Melissa and David: 3-Day Power Spouses

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Today is Spouse’s Day, and we are lucky to have many spouses, along with significant others of all kinds, walk with us on the 3-Day. Their love and support mirrors the love and support that surround the pink bubble on our 60-mile journey. It’s inspiring to say the least! One such couple is David and Melissa from the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day.

They have been together for a decade, and now walk the 3-Day with their daughter Alex, plus four other couples! Together, they have walked and crewed and made themselves a staple in the “powerful pink bubble of love” that is the 3-Day.

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But it all started with Melissa. She is a breast cancer survivor (20 years now, and counting!), and walked her first 3-Day in 2007 along with her daughter. At the time, David was their walker stalker, but soon he was walking and crewing alongside them.

Melissa says that even now, “Doing the 3-Day as a couple is an extraordinary way to do the event! Sharing something that is so important keeps us focused on our shared values and we are there for each other when training is tough, motivation wanes, or simply to enjoy each other’s company. We both have full time careers that take up a lot of time and the world is a busy place. Training walks are ‛our time’ to shut down phones and just be together, talk about life, and plan for the future. We now walk long walks year-round.

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“When we are on event, we have the advantage of having our partner and best friend on site to share the experience, to take care of each other, to share that extra dessert in the evening or to bring each other coffee in the morning!”

That is the case whether you’re walking or crewing! Melissa and David have done it all, supporting each other when David didn’t think 60 miles was a big deal (Melissa still reminds him of this) or when Melissa took a tumble as part of bike safety crew (David helped her get back up and out onto the route). Those long miles together bring them closer every year.

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Melissa says that no matter how you get involved, the 3-Day is a great way to connect with your loved ones.

“The 3-Day brings us back to the sense of community where we are all in it together and if anyone is in need, then we have all failed — so the spirit of being there for each other is present in everything we do throughout the weekend. David and I live our marriage like this as much as possible, but life today can make us all a bit self-centered. The 3-Day always brings a wonderful experiential reminder of how powerful kindness really can be when someone is tired, hurting, losing motivation or simply walking with sadness and grief. There is no substitute for a kind word and a helping hand.”

Since they have started participating together, David has also spoken at the Opening Ceremony in Melissa’s honor, and Melissa spoke at the Camp Show in 2017. They are also training walk leaders and members of the Komen Advisory Council. The 3-Day has become a part of their life and their marriage, and they encourage other couples to also participate together.

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“I would say that any couple who are considering walking together should jump in. There is plenty of space for alone time and together time and time with your friends on the event. There are only upsides to walking with your partner — or even walking while a partner is on the crew. Making the 3-Day a family affair helps in every aspect of the event.”

Do you know a 3-Day couple, or are you part of one? Tell us how the 3-Day has brought you and your spouse closer in the comments!

 

51 Miles, 51 Years of Marriage: Meet Dennis and Sandy

For Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants, Day 3 is a big deal. You’ve collectively raised millions of dollars to help end breast cancer. You’ve slept in pink tents. You’ve eaten countless grahamwiches, quenched your thirst with sports drink, cried at the camp show speeches, and showered on a truck. You’ve met amazing new friends and bonded with the old ones. You’ve proven your incredible dedication to working toward a world without breast cancer. And, let’s not forget that you’ve walked an average of 20 miles each day; some walkers reach this point feeling victorious and undefeated, others feel exhausted and ready to quit. But you don’t quit. You keep going. You put one foot after the other, you lean on others for support, maybe you take a quick ride in a sweep van, because you know that by being there, just by being at the 3-Day, your presence means making a very real impact on somebody else’s life.

Dennis and Sandy M. are similar to their fellow Komen 3-Day walkers, but for them, Day 3 on this year’s Philadelphia 3-Day® wasn’t just Day 3. It was their 51st wedding anniversary, and we talked to them this weekend to learn a few lessons about the many ways that their marriage has been just like the 3-Day.

Dennis and Sandy McGee celebrated 51 years of Marriage on Day 3 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Dennis and Sandy McGee celebrated 51 years of Marriage on Day 3 of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Sandy and Dennis met when they were teenagers; Sandy was 16 and Denny was nine days shy of turning 18. It was the summer of 1962. Sandy recalls, “On a Saturday night, my cousin invited me to go on a babysitting job with her and meet the guy who my cousin fancied, who lived downstairs. When we met, we both liked each other and started seeing each other on the weekends and talking on the phone.” Dennis bought her an engagement ring for Christmas, and they were married on September 14, 1963.

Like many newlyweds, the start of their marriage had a few trying times. “We were very poor and only had six wedding gifts, three of which we could not use. One, as I recall, was a shower curtain, and the apartment we rented had no shower, just a tub,” Sandy laughs. “We had some really hard times. We didn’t have much of anything. What we did have was each other and our family.”

After five years of marriage, Sandy was pregnant with Tammy, their first daughter, and Dennis had been drafted into the army. He was wounded in July of 1969 and came close to death. “He is my hero, and the most humble man I know. He is my best friend,” said Sandra.

Four and a half decades later, these best friends decided to walk the 3-Day after seeing the passion that their daughter Tammy had about her 3-Day experience. “When she speaks of the women she has met while walking, her eyes just light up. After I heard her speak at a fundraiser, I said to myself, ‘I want to know that passion, I want to meet those women,’” said Sandy. Sandy and Tammy walked together in the Tampa Bay 3-Day last year and Dennis, even though he wasn’t registered to walk, trained with Sandy and Tammy, logging over 500 training miles. This year, he decided to walk the 3-Day. “I figured if I was going that far, I should do the walk and get credit for it,” said Dennis. We caught up with Tammy, who has been married for 22 years herself, and she said “Every day they just want to spend more time together. They still hold hands. All during our training walks, they hold hands.”

Dennis found this rose on Day 2 of the 3-Day, and carried it from the final pit stop to camp where his darling Sandy was waiting.

Dennis found this rose on Day 2 of the 3-Day, and carried it from the final pit stop to camp where his darling Sandy was waiting.

How exactly, is 51 years of marriage like the 3-Day? “Well, in marriage as well as in the walk, you just keep going and supporting each other even when the going gets tough and the end seems so far off,” said Dennis. “Sometimes it’s just one foot after the other, and sometimes you are having so much fun you don’t even know you’re walking or how far you have walked. Our marriage is like that,” said Sandy. “Just keep walking. It’s going to be not so fun sometimes, then boom – the very best time you’ve ever had happens.”

Sandy and Dennis both said that a good marriage is about always treating each other with respect and kindness. “When people ask me where the better half is at, my answer is that there is no better half in our relationship. We are fully equals. You get back what you put out,” said Dennis. Their equality is obvious when Sandy replies with her own response, that one of the most important things in marriage is to show each other respect. “I can honestly say the first man I ever dated turned out to be my soulmate. I love him more today than I did 50 years ago.”

Sandy and Dennis at Mile 51 of the Philly 3-Day, celebrating 51 years of marriage. Photo courtesy of their daughter, Tammy S.

Sandy and Dennis at Mile 51 of the Philly 3-Day, celebrating 51 years of marriage. Photo courtesy of their daughter, Tammy S.

As they stopped at Mile 51 to celebrate 51 incredible years of marriage, the unbreakable bond between Sandy and Dennis is apparent as they lovingly embrace. At this moment, time has stopped for the couple, and here, at Mile 51, it’s all about love, endurance, and respect. As Dennis said, “The trials that you conquer together will make the relationship stronger and the commitment to each other deeper. Do not dwell on past problems and mistakes, but learn from them, and move forward as a pair.”

We were honored today to share their story; one that we can all learn from as a true lesson in endurance, teamwork, and commitment, proven to be unshakeable after 51 amazing years.

This photo shows Sandy and Dennis 10 years ago, with a favorite quote: "If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I would never have to live a day without you." -Winnie the Pooh

This photo shows Sandy and Dennis 10 years ago, with a favorite quote: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I would never have to live a day without you.” -Winnie the Pooh