It only took 3 days and 60 miles for Dylan and Karla to feel the spark. 365 days later, they took that journey again, this time as husband and wife. Though they had both been involved for the 3-Day in years past, Dylan and Karla didn’t officially meet until friends introduced them on the 2017 San Diego 3-Day. Dylan started walking for his ex-wife’s good friend in 2002 and has now participated in 13 events. 2016 was Karla’s first year walking. But 2017 was the one that counted, because that’s when they met each other. That’s where their story began…
How did you then meet each other?
Dylan had walked in the Philly event in 2016 and again in 2017 along with other good 3-Day friends. When the 2017 San Diego 3-Day came around we were introduced by common friends at the Red Marlin Day 0 party. Our friends had no idea what would happen in the days to come.
What was your first walk like together?
That depends who you ask. 😉 Dylan would say the first day wasn’t like any other walk. Karla might say she had her eye on Dylan, but the first day was fairly normal. The second day we walked together more, talked more and started to realize there was a spark. By Day 3, it was pretty clear we had a strong connection. Plans were altered and the Monday following the 3-Day we spent all day wandering around San Diego. For the sake of brevity, many details are being left out, but it goes without saying (now) that we couldn’t deny the connection.
And how has your 3-Day experience changed over time?
We continue to meet amazing people who have become dear to our hearts and unfortunately a few of these dear friends have lost their lives, which gives us more reason to continue this effort. Together we are more determined to raise money and participate. As far as the actual walk goes, it’s changed considerably given we basically walk all 60 miles holding hands.
This year was your first walk as a married couple!
Dylan proposed to Karla a month after the 2017 3-Day (right before Christmas). She moved to Raleigh from Atlanta two months after that. We both decided pretty quickly we wanted to get married in San Diego right before the 2018 3-Day but the details kind of fell into place over the next few months. On a drive from Orange County to San Diego in January 2018 we passed Oceanside, the city Dylan’s dad grew up in. We visited the house his dad grew up in and, subsequently, drove a few miles south to Carlsbad where Dylan’s grandfather had established a church in the early ‘60s after retiring from the Navy as a Chaplain. The visit wasn’t intended for scoping out a wedding venue, but we both decided after walking the church campus that there was no better place to profess our love for each other and to bring both families together. As more plans came together, we decided the Red Marlin (where we had originally met) was an obvious location for the reception and of course that meant our guests would be staying at the Hyatt Mission Bay. It was not only our wedding host hotel, but also the 3-Day host hotel! It was pretty cool seeing our wedding family transition to our 3-Day family.
And what was it like walking only a few days later?
It made for a LONG week. We got to San Diego the Sunday before the 3-Day and didn’t get back home to Raleigh until the day after Thanksgiving. We both had a blast walking in the 3-Day for our honeymoon. 😊 We also spent a couple of days at the Hotel Del Coronado following the Closing Ceremony.
You were also featured in the camp show this year for the Newlywed Game!
It went by so fast we barely remember! Dylan does remember being right on more of the questions than Karla. LOL
What are some lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day that also apply to your relationship?
Sometimes in the real world it’s good to have the 3-Day family as an example of giving and philanthropy to look back on for reference. We both have lifelong friends we’ve met at the 3-Day and get to see throughout the year.
What makes a great 3-Day walking partner?
One who will hold your hand and listen to your rambling.
And partner in life?
Not much different! We are each other’s priority and nothing else is more important. It helps that we basically think the same way.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans?
Well, Karla’s birthday is 2 days after Valentine’s Day so it’s kind of a combined thing. We honestly don’t put much emphasis on Valentine’s Day. We don’t need a holiday to remind us to love each other. That said, for Karla’s birthday she wanted to go to the Daytona 500 so we’re going to Florida that weekend and watching fast cars turn left for a few hours. I’m sure we’ll be holding hands the entire time 😊
They met at a training walk in July of 2006. They’d both walked in the 3-Day in 2002, but it took four years for fate to bring them together. From there, they joined the same 3-Day team, Viva Las Chicas, and saw each other at meetings, awareness days, and of course, on the event. As their friendship grew and their lives changed, they realized something. They were falling in love. The 3-Day was the beginning of Jenn and Bruce’s love story, but it certainly wasn’t the end.
Now, they’re married! And they still participate in the 3-Day together, both as crew and walkers. Through illness and strength, good times and many miles, the 3-Day has continued to be a huge part of their love story, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
This year for Valentine’s Day, Jenn is sharing how we all can take the 3-Day love into our own relationships. She says, “every day is Valentine’s Day in our house,” which makes her the perfect person to share stories and memories for this holiday.
How have you brought your love story onto the 3-Day?
There have been many small moments and gestures over the years. But by far the most impactful was the result of a health crisis. In March of 2014, Bruce suffered a hemorrhagic stroke after a Tampa 3-Day reunion gathering. We had planned to walk in Dallas that year, but the 3-Day was put on the back burner. His recovery was remarkable. We had the support of so many of our Chica and 3-Day family!
We married the following January, made our return to the 3-Day as part of the Event Support Crew Team in Atlanta in 2015, then embarked on our biggest challenge. We decided to walk the Philadelphia 3-Day in 2016. With the help, love, and generosity of that same 3-Day family, we trained, met our fundraising goals, and landed in Philly to walk with team “A String of Pearls.” Bruce was determined to walk every step. It was his 7th time walking and my 6th time walking. We walked every mile, most of it hand in hand. What we didn’t realize was the impact it was making with the other walkers and crew members around us. We were just being us.
But near the end of Day 1, we met another walker who had been taking our photo from behind. At about Mile 58, we posed for a photo, briefly told our story, and became Instagram famous for about 15 minutes! As we walked into the Closing Ceremony holding hands, the Route Safety Crew asked us to take a photo with them because we’d been holding hands all weekend. The entire experience was more overwhelming than usual, if that’s even possible. I was so incredibly proud of my husband’s determination!
What are some lessons you learned on the 3-Day that apply to your marriage?
Kindness rocks! Couples who wear tutus together stay together. Teamwork, compromise, and sharing ideas is essential. Hugging is appropriate at all times, even while sweaty. Love and accept each other, practice patience, and be grateful for every moment.
What are some tips for couples who want to be involved in the 3-Day together?
Learn to take care of yourself as much you take care your spouse. It’s okay to be on different crew teams, in different sweep vans, or for one to crew while the other walks. You don’t have to follow your partner onto a sweep van, and you also shouldn’t expect your partner to follow you onto a sweep van. Partners give the BEST foot rubs! Have fun! Dance in the street! Hold hands!
What are some of your best 3-Day memories with Bruce?
Bruce being the ultimate walker stalker in 2006! Staying up past lights out and talking in the 3-Day lounge. Teaching Bruce the Cupid Shuffle in the streets of Tampa. Our 3-Day friends surprising us on a training walk to tell us that they’d raised enough money for Bruce to walk in 2016, so he could concentrate on training. Miles 58-60 in Philadelphia 2016. Walking hand in hand together, not just during training, but on the event. There are too many to list!
Tell us some of your favorite love songs.
Can’t Help Falling in Love
Thinking Out Loud
A Thousand Years
All of Me
When You Say Nothing at All
If I Had Million Dollars
How would you summarize your love story?
We’re just two ordinary people who found each other because of the 3-Day. And because of our experiences together, we know that time is precious, so it’s not worth wasting on the petty things. We want to be silly, love each other, be there for one another, and enjoy all the time that we have together.