Congratulations to the 2019 Michigan 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Melissa Melson

For the 2019 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season, we’re pleased to be continuing the Local Impact Award. This award is being given to participants who have been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day® community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees have gone above and beyond in their efforts leading training walks, attending 3-Day community events, supporting the 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

Please join us in congratulating the 2019 Michigan 3-Day Local Impact Award Winner, Melissa Melson!

Her Team Captain, Janice Shore, raves about Melissa!

“The Hines Pink Pathers are so very happy that Melissa is receiving this award! Melissa is considerate and kind to all she encounters and is always willing to help with questions or problems, whether it is 3-Day related or not. Melissa really puts her heart and soul into everything she does including her commitment and dedication to the 3-Day!”

We got to know Melissa a little better, and learn more about the serious impact she has had on the Michigan 3-Day. When she was answering these questions, she didn’t yet know that she’d be our award winner!

What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?   

I am not sure what it was. It was just a feeling truthfully. I had heard about it before and the end of 2011 on the radio and was inspired by the 3-Day message and ad. I heard the advertisement on the radio and I just felt like I had to sign up. I was stuck in traffic and it just felt like the right thing to do.

My mom’s mom had breast cancer probably 20 years prior but no one else had it when I first walked. Despite not really knowing people diagnosed when I first signed up, that was soon to change, and it turns out the 3Day was leading me right where I needed to be! My mom ended up being diagnosed right after the end of my first walk with stage 2 almost 3 breast cancer. The following spring a classmate was diagnosed at age 30 with Triple negative breast cancer, and she died 3 years later. Many more have been diagnosed over these last 7 or 8 years including my stepmom as well.  Watching then fight such a hard fight made me frustrated and I needed to do something. Unbeknownst to me, the 3-Day helped me find my way to help, my purpose before I knew I needed it.

What has brought you back to the 3-Day year after year? 

The people I met on my first 3-Day became the family I got to choose. It was an amazing positive and proactive environment despite having a rough first walk. I didn’t train like I should have. I didn’t have the right shoes, and I didn’t know anyone really when I started. I was about 80 lbs heavier, but the happy pink bubble draws me back every year. I could have had blisters and sore muscles from head to toe, and I would still come back year after year.

It’s also the list of names I walk for that grows each year unfortunately.  More people need me. I feel like I need to raise money for those who can’t and walk for those who are unable to. This walk gives me a way to help, a way to deal with a feeling of helplessness to help my loved ones when I cannot cure their cancer or take their pain away.

What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success? 

Start early, do a variety of things, and join a team if you need the extra support to help, give you ideas, and they can help you train and be better prepared too. I send emails and reminders. Just because someone doesn’t donate this year doesn’t mean they won’t next year, or that their busy life won’t get them sidetracked and they forget.

Contact local businesses, talk to your job to see what you can do there. You can do online fundraisers where you can reach people outside your neighborhood or social circle. Try a lot of different things because what works for one community might not work well in yours. What works for your friends might not be as successful with the people you know, so broaden your reach and try a variety of types of fundraisers until you figure out what works for you.

What is your best advice to anyone participating in the 3-Day?  

Be prepared (train, good shoes, and focus on health going in) but also have fun. Don’t rush, stop and enjoy the pink roses lol. Enjoy all the beautiful people and the 3Day family. This is a pink bubble, that is unlike anywhere or anything else in the world.

What’s a fun fact about you? 

I was just on Channel 4 news, interviewed by Paula Tutman for a recently developing passion! I’ve always cared about the environment and animals and living creatures. I think pesticides that kill bees and pollinators are not good for us either and I can do something to help pollinators and the world we live in. I found out a way to help and started my own pollinator and environmentally friendly flower garden. It is over 15 ft long and about 4 feet wide and doing pretty well considering this is my first year as a gardener.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?  

  • Do what you can, the best you can.
  • One step at a time.
  • I cannot tap out until Cancer does first.
  • Great shoes go a long way.
  • Health and hydration sure make life easier!

Congratulations, Melissa!

Congratulations to the 2019 Michigan 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Gary Bertolini

Please join us in congratulating our 2019 Milestone Award Winner; Gary Bertolini. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Milestone Award is given at each event to a walker or crew member who has an outstanding history of participation in the Komen 3-Day. At the Michigan 3-Day camp show, we presented Gary with this special honor.

Gary is loved by both the 3-Day family, and his own family as well. He has managed to merge those to groups to surround himself with people who can’t say enough about him.

His son-in-law Tom Crews with Gary, and says,

If you’ve met Gary, you know that he bleeds pink for more than three days out of the year. The Michigan Komen 3-Day is not a week long event for him, but a commitment. His decade in the 3-Day aligns roughly with my entrance into his family. I remember stories of him walking the route the weeks ahead, and preparing it for walkers because that’s just what he does.

As he became more involved, we had conversations about ideas he had to increase membership and try to rejuvenate the Michigan 3-Day, and how excited he was to pass those ideas along. Three years ago, when Gary’s grand kids were old enough that we could leave them for a long weekend, I remember thinking he must have put something in the water to make me think this was a good idea, and I joined. It wasn’t in the water, it was in his passion to help others. It wasn’t good enough to raise money, he had to try to raise thousands of dollars every year! It wasn’t good enough to be on crew, Gary had to be a leader by example on that crew. He was the first one there ready to work and the last one to stop. As his son-in-law, the pressure was on, but in the best way possible. Gary’s commitment inspired me to do more than just thank him for the incredible work that he’s doing to ensure my daughter, his grand-daughter, will never have to be a survivor of this terrible illness, he inspired me to step up and be a part of the change.

Gary’s commitment to Komen, his passion for all the organization stands for, his tireless work ethic for the 3-Day weekend and the 362 days that lead up to it, and his selflessness to fight for the cure are just a few of the reasons that I’m proud to call him Dad and that have inspired me and others to get involved in this cause!”

His daughter Liz L. also Crews with their family, and has seen the 3-Day grow and live in Gary’s heart for more than a decade.

“Over the past twelve years, the 3-Day has become a big part of my dad’s life. The first year, Gary chose to walk to honor friends and family members who had been affected by breast cancer. But, like many of us, after participating one year, he was hooked. He participated for several more years as a walker, raising much more than the minimum donation each year. As time passed, Gary became more involved in the 3-Day organization by participating on advisory panels and offering suggestions about how to grow the event.

A few years ago, Gary transitioned from a walker to a crew member, but did not lose his drive to make the event the best it could be. He continues to fundraise thousands of dollars each year as a crew member, and gives his all on event. Whether he’s driving a truck, setting up a shelter, restocking the food tent, or encouraging walkers, he’s there with a smile and a can-do attitude that keep everyone going. If Gary sees something that needs to be done, he will take care of it, no questions asked. For three days, he’s not just our dad, but everyone’s dad. If someone is struggling to open a case of water, he’s there with his pocketknife to help out. When he sees a walker struggling to make it into lunch, he offers them his camp chair or a fresh piece of cardboard to make them more comfortable. Gary always has a warm smile and is ready with a good dad joke to make people smile. And when friends and family come to visit and cheer the walkers on, he’s the first to welcome the little kids to the event as a temporary grandpa. I am so proud of the commitment Gary has made to the 3-Day event and to finding a cure for breast cancer. His positive attitude and hard work are truly an inspiration.”

His other daughter (and fellow Crew member!) Emily, echoes that sentiment.

“In 2008 my dad asked my sisters and I which one of us wanted to walk 60 miles with him. Now, none of us are particularly athletic so we weren’t sure what he was thinking, but Dad filled us in. He wanted to participate in the Susan G Komen 3-Day in memory of his colleague Linda Dinger, who had recently lost her battle with breast cancer. Thinking of the family connection we also have – my grandmas both survived breast cancer – I agreed to be his buddy and tent-mate for what would become our first event. I was intimidated by the fundraising, but Dad told me not to worry; it turned out he was very right! That first event was both a learning and bonding experience, sharing a smaller space in a pink tent than we ever had, and Dad improvised some first aid techniques for a blister that definitely weren’t part of the training. We didn’t usually keep the same pace but we met up at lunch each day, even when I had to sweep there, and that really kept me going. By the time we crossed the finish line together, Dad was hooked on the experience and talking about things to do for the next time.

Dad continued to walk until a few years ago, with my Mom as his personal support team, smashing through the fundraising minimums every year. Even after joining me, my sister Liz, and later my brother-in-law Tom as crew, Dad continues to fundraise like a walker with his unwavering dedication to the cause. Dad had heart bypass surgery a few years ago, and I’m sure that all his walking kept him in good physical shape and helped his recovery. Even after his surgery, Dad has not missed a Michigan 3-Day event since we started.
I’m so proud of my Dad’s contributions to all aspects of the 3-Day, from motivating other walkers with “dad jokes” and a fart noise machine, to helping run a pit stop, to participating on the advisory council to his remarkable fundraising.”

After all of that heartfelt praise and admiration, we had to speak with the man himself! This is the 3-Day, according to Gary.

What was your inspiration to do your first 3-Day?

A good friend and co-worker lost her hard fought battle with breast cancer in 2006. She was a young mother of 3 taken from us too soon by this disease. I decided to participate in the 3-Day to honor her memory.

What has brought you back year after year?

While we have made great progress over the last 12 years there is still a lot more to do. I hope to stay involved until we have a cure. Also, I do this to show my children that it is important to have causes and to give your time and energy to supporting them. Two of my daughters and my son-in-law participate with me each year.

What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?

It starts with a great group of friends and family that know how important it is to find a cure so that future generations don’t have to experience this disease. It also helps to be doing this to honor a woman that was loved by so many. In addition to this I believe the secret to my success in persistence. I start with this long list of annual donors with a letter soliciting their continued support. Then I repeat it every month until I receive a donation. Not many have told me to stop because I am becoming annoying but many have thanked me for the reminder and said  “I thought I had already donated”.

What is your best advice to anyone participating in the 3-Day?

Work hard to fundraise and train before the event. If it is your first 3-Day try to join a group of experienced 3 Dayers who can help you with training and fundraising tips. Once you are on event – Have Fun!! Reflect during the day on why you are here and engage with others along the route – share stories and make new friends!!

What is a fun fact about you?

I am a jokester. My kids and grand-kids moan and groan at my “Dad Jokes”. It gets so bad at times that I tell them something serious and they wait for the punchline!! I have to tell them I am not joking. Oh well, a small price to pay I suppose!!

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned on the 3-Day?

This event is ultimately about raising money for breast cancer research and programs that save lives. If you are on event you have done your job and you should feel very proud for doing so. This is not about causing yourself physical harm. Walking each step of the 60 miles is an accomplishment but not a requirement. You know your body and what it can do. Please don’t push it beyond your comfort level. All of your supporters want you to be healthy the day after the event. Tired but healthy!!

Congratulations, Gary!

2019 Michigan 3-Day Route Preview

It is almost here! The Michigan 3-Day is next week, and as you get ready for the event, we have a preview of what you can expect on our first 3-Day of the year! We can’t believe the weekend is almost upon us, but your Michigan 3-Day staff and coaches have been hard at work all year long to plan a fun-filled weekend for everyone heading to the Great Lake State.

After getting great feedback on our route from last year, you’ll be happy to see some familiar sights, but we have taken extra effort to make this year even better than the last! That includes an updated experience for our Opening Ceremony and camp, both of which will take place indoors at the Sheraton Detroit Novi. We will be taking over three different hotels in the Novi area, spreading the 3-Day spirit far and wide.

You can follow along with us on Facebook to see the grand unveiling of what the new Opening Ceremony will look like, but Event Production Manager Melanie Toner thinks everyone will love the new set-up!

After the Opening Ceremony, walkers will start their 60-mile journey. There will be changes to the route as we walk in and out of camp, so that we can give our walkers a direct route in and out of the hotel, and Melanie and the 3-Day team are working hard to make those changes extra special.

After walking out of the hotel, walkers will cross over Interstate 96 and head North to Walled Lake and into Novi. Keep an eye out for our first cheering station of the day and then an amazing photo op at Pavilion Shore Park.

After this you can look forward to some new route stops, but we will still visit all the amazing Michigan towns that have been such great hosts to us in the past. That includes the quaint neighborhoods of the Walled Lake community that embody the lake culture of the Mitten state!

Then, we will finish our day back at the new hotel camp.

Melanie says, “You can expect the same elements of 3-Day camp and your night with your fellow 3-Dayers that you’ve loved in the past! It will just be spread over two floors. Although we are moving camp from the outside, the move indoors creates a new and exciting atmosphere with all the comforts of home! (indoor bathrooms anyone?)

The first floor will hold our Opening Ceremony, and following the ceremony, the space will transition into your 3-Day Dining Room for the rest of the weekend. It will include the all-new 3-Day Lounge brought to you by Amgen, complete with charging stations, giveaways and frozen yogurt! And back again this year (to everyone’s delight) is a fan favorite, the Bank of America massage chairs. Also be sure to visit the 3-Day store, get your 2019 Michigan pin and buy a 3-Day “wish you were here” postcard for to a loved one! Don’t forget to bring stamps.

Then on the second floor there will be the medical team, a Manduka stretching area, our Youth Corps area and more! It will be a space for connection, community and a chance to refuel”

Ann Love, another member of our Michigan Event Production team, echoes this excitement, enthusing, “I am very excited to see the hotel portion of the event come together. The hotel has been really supportive, and I think everyone is going to love what we’ve put together!”

Day Two will start with the Bank of America Breakfast of Champions for our Top Fundraisers. Usually honored on Friday at Camp Show, this recognition will now take place before we leave camp first thing on Saturday.

Day Two we will head south through Novi again, and then into Plymouth where we’ll pass by the Plymouth Historical Museum. We will spend much of the rest of the day in Plymouth, including visiting Kellogg Park, where the familiar Pink Fountain awaits and walking along the Ann Arbor Trail Road and then into Northville, another historic Michigan community.

At lunch on Day Two, we will reach the halfway mark of our walk… and we’re going to celebrate! Enjoy special photo opportunities, a local DJ and more excitement. This new celebration will take place at all of our 3-Days this year, and we are especially excited to debut it in Michigan.

One of Ann’s favorite parts of Day Two is that it will be a shorter route, thanks to the new hotel camp location. We have heard your feedback about Day Two being a bit long and taken that into account this year.

Day Two will end back at camp with an all-new Honor Ceremony. This special addition will include stories from walkers, crew, Youth Corps, and more. You’ll even have a chance to share with the world why you commit 3-Days.

Melanie says that our Day Three route is very similar to last year. “We know people loved it, so we didn’t want to change that feeling!”

The day will start with a short bus ride to an elementary school in Livonia. Then much of the day still takes place in Dearborn, including a pit stop at the Dearborn Historical Museum. This is just one of the fun destinations right in the heart of downtown Dearborn. York Street in Dearborn is especially supportive of our walkers, coming out in full force to cheer them on. Also keep an eye out for gorgeous views of the Rouge River near the end of the final day of walking.

Other highlights to look forward to on the route throughout the weekend are:

  • Walled Lake
  • Cheering stations in downtown Plymouth
  • Ford Field in Dearborn
  • Hines Park
  • Downtown Northville (Ann especially love the historic homes)

After 60 miles, our walk will once again finish at the Ford World Headquarters. This has been such an iconic and special spot for our Michigan 3-Dayers, and we are honored to once again be able to finish our journey there.

Instead of having a separate Participant Finish Area and Closing Ceremony site, we will have one celebratory Closing Festival area. So, all the excitement can be in one giant space! There will be live music, crowd games and prizes plus even some line dancing!

When the last walker arrives, we will immediately begin the Closing Ceremony. The Closing Ceremony will be like what you have come to expect in past years, but with some new festive additions.

The celebration will be for everyone, regardless of when you finish! Plus, having the Victory Area also hold Closing Ceremony means there will be less walking after you finish your 60-mile journey! Which we know our walkers will love 😊

All in all, we are looking forward to showing off many new additions to the 3-Day this year and kicking off our 2019 3-Day season in style.