Congratulations to the 2018 Michigan 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Erika McKee

Please join us in congratulating our 2017 Milestone Award Winner; Erika McKee. 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 Erika with this special honor.

Erika is an amazing asset to the 3-Day family, and her story is a deeply personal one. Her husband and family say she is an “inspiration to our family and your dedication to the cause is awe-inspiring.”

Erika receives her award at the Michigan 3-Day.

Fellow walker Shelley echoes that, saying, “You couldn’t ask for a more loyal supporter of the 3-Day than Erika McKee. I have known her for almost 25 years and she is the most generous and caring person I know….Always putting everyone before herself. She is truly a special person and loyal friend.”

More love came from her parents Dave and Deanne, “We are proud parents of Erika. She has always excelled in work, academics, and helping others. She walks each year for breast cancer awareness as many have survived (including her Mother) and many have lost to the disease.”

Want to learn more about the amazing Erica? Let’s hear from her! When she answered these questions, she didn’t know she’d be getting this honor!

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

My mother, Deanne Nelsen.  The toughest woman I know.  At age 58, she was diagnosed with heart disease.  After 4 unsuccessful angioplasties, she underwent Open Heart Surgery.  After recovering from that major surgery and rehab, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  Thankfully, she caught it early and was able to beat it after a lumpectomy and radiation.  She just celebrated her 80th birthday this past year!

Once my mom was through all of that, I was beyond thankful.  I felt strongly that I had to do SOMETHING to give back.  I heard about the 3-Day and told my husband about my “crazy idea”.  He didn’t even blink, and instantly responded “I’ll walk with you”.

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

The first year, our weather conditions were horrible.  We had extreme heat and thunderstorms during our first night (and we were evacuated into a school in the middle of the night, for safety).  And, I was only going to do this ONCE!  After all, between the training and the fundraising, it was a huge endeavor.  But, the energy of the event and the incredible people that I met drew me in right away.  Somewhere early in Day 3 (in 2004), I started talking to my husband about “next year”.  He looked at me and said “We haven’t even finished the 60 miles yet.  Isn’t that like talking about the 2nd baby, when you’re still pregnant with the first?”  I laughed and told him that I knew it would be another big undertaking, but after that first experience, how could I not come back?  I mean, all I had to do was WALK!  And in doing so, there were SO many people I could help.

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

The first year, I wrote letters to everyone I knew – friends, family and friends of my parents.  After all, we were celebrating her surviving breast cancer (and heart disease).  Donations flooded in and we raised $10,000 in 2004.  But, when I decided to walk again, I knew I had to get creative.  After all, how could I keep asking friends for donations, year after year?  So, I came up with the idea of a Silent Auction.  I canvassed local businesses for donations and hosted a huge party at our house.  We just hosted our 14th annual Silent Auction – and most of our friends can’t wait for the event every year.  We’ve even added absentee bidding to the event – for friends who can’t make it in person, but still want to participate in the bidding/donate to the cause.  Since 2004, our family has raised approximately $115,000 for the Cause.  And everyone around me knows that I am far from done!

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

Walk at a comfortable pace (it is a LONG walk, not a race) and stretch often.  First time walkers often walk far too fast on Day One and pay for it later.  Do not rush to get to camp.  The experience is about the walk itself.  Enjoy the route, talk to as many new people as you can, listen to their stories, share yours.  The people you meet will truly change your life.  The 3-Day is 3 days of how the world should be – kindness, friendship, love, compassion.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I love playing sports and rarely sit still.  Although I spent most of my childhood as a competitive swimmer, I now play volleyball in the winter and golf in the summer.  However, I found my absolute passion at age 38 – Ice Hockey.  I traded in my childhood figure skates to hockey skates and absolutely love the sport and the camaraderie of hockey team.  (Perhaps it was always in my blood though – my mother, my inspiration for walking in the 3-Day, played college hockey at the University of Toronto, in the late 1950’s).

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

My experience on the 3-Day has truly changed my perspective in life.  There is so much we can do as a society, together, to help and support others.  I think one of the best by-products of my involvement is the impact it has had on my children.  They are now all involved in the event and each one of them understands the importance of community and giving back.  We only hope we can spread this spirit of giving on to others.

3-Day Michigan Coaches: Favorite Parts of the 2018 3-Day

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The countdown is on to our first 3-Day of 2018, and no one is more excited than your Michigan 3-Day Coaches. Jennifer, Heather and Gina have been preparing, planning and getting pumped up for this coming weekend since Michigan’s Closing Ceremony in 2017. They can’t wait to welcome all our 3-Dayers back into the Pink Bubble!

What are they most excited for this year?

Coach Jennifer is looking forward to “meeting all of the new folks that I have been talking to on the phone and via email for the past several months and reconnecting with our amazing veteran walkers.”

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The coaches with Event Production Manager, Ann Love

Crew & Volunteer Coordinator Gina echoes that statement saying she can’t wait for to welcome “those returning and meeting the new faces on the event,” especially when it comes to the Crew and Volunteers.

Crew, Youth Corps and volunteers are all a huge part of the 3-Day experience after all!

“I must give a shout out to our all-volunteer and all-around amazing Crew. You will find Crew around every turn, and at camp, making sure walkers are fully supported,” Coach Gina promises. “Youth Corps, our friends in yellow, are youth who commit to serving the walkers throughout the weekend. Be sure to “high-five” a crew or Youth Corps member!”

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You can also high five your coaches because they have some great advice for you! How should you make the most of your time on the Michigan 3-Day? Their top tips are all very similar:

  • “Enjoy every single moment the 3-Day has for you. Do not be in a rush to get to the next pit stop, don’t worry about what “number” you are! Enjoy it and soak it in. Take a lot of pictures, talk to your fellow walkers, not just those you may be on a team with. Trust me, these three days will fly by.” – Coach Jennifer
  • “Savor the moments, every step, each interaction, because as the saying goes, ‘It’s the little moments that make life big.’” – Coach Gina
  • “One step at a time. Soak it all in! Don’t get so lost in “just getting it done” that you miss all the awesomeness that comes with every minute.” – Coach Heather

While you soak in these moments, also remember how much the 3-Day matters to walkers, Crew and coaches alike.

Coach Gina says, “My 3-Day ‘why’ became much more personal in the past year and has renewed my energy in this fight. My own breast cancer battle brought surgeries, chemo, radiation, and more…but I am blessed because I had my 3-Day community around me, who lifted me up when I needed it most. The 3-Day to me is a family, a family bound together by their passion, enthusiasm and drive to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer.”

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Every step you take on the 60-mile route makes a huge difference. And of course, no one knows the route better than these three ladies!

Here are their favorite spots to look for over your Michigan weekend:

  • Walking along the water early on Day 1
  • Camp! All the coaches promise that camp will be cozy and full of fun things to do
  • All the local cheering stations!
  • But especially the Plymouth cheering station on Day 3
  • Kellogg Park
  • The cheerleaders on Day 3
  • York Street in Dearborn
  • Any place along the route where there are dogs! (Good point Coach Jennifer 😊)

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This team works hard, but they also love to work together and support each other!

Gina is the “calm, cool and collected” one of the group who “always has a kind word for everyone.” Heather and Jennifer describe themselves as two peas in a pod; they even finish each other sentences!

Coach Heather sums it up nicely when she says, “If I had to use one, all-encompassing word, it would be FRIENDS! We are there for each other in all aspects of our lives. We cheer each other’s victories and we show love and support during our times of struggle. We are blessed to be part of this tightknit team and we are so excited to share an amazing 2018 3-Day with our awesome walkers and crew!”

With excitement and love like that, you know this weekend is going to be one for the books!

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2018 Michigan 3-Day Route Preview

Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3day walk in Novi, Michigan on August 4, 2017.

The Michigan 3-Day is this week, and as you get ready for the event, we have a preview of what to expect on our first 3-Day of the year! We can’t believe the weekend is almost here!

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!

Camp will once again be at Novi Middle School after we received such a warm welcome from the Wildcats last year. This outdoor camp allows us to take advantage of the great Michigan summer weather, and since the camp site is safely away from any noise or light, that won’t interfere with your 3-Day beauty sleep.

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New at camp this year will be Bank of America photo booths so you can get that perfect 3-Day photo, and toiletry bags from Hilton Hotels.

Our Michigan Event Production Manager, Ann Love, previously a Michigan 3-Day Coach, is very excited about these new camp amenities!

“I want one of those toiletry bags for my everyday life! They’re such a great addition!”

Bank of America will also be providing more massage chairs than last year, and Mohawk will once again be providing padding to make your tents as comfortable as possible. We want our 3-Dayers to experience a full night of glamping!

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We also listened to feedback from last year and have created a more compact camping layout. It’s more intimate, people will be a little freer to move around and have fun with their 3-Day pals!

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies are also in the same locations as last year, with the Opening Ceremony taking place at Walled Lake Western High School. The ceremony itself will be slightly different from last year but Ann and our 3-Day team want all the updates to be a surprise for our 3-Dayers. So, follow along with us on Facebook to see the grand unveiling!

“Walled Lake School loves having us! We will walk by their administrative building, so they have a big cheering station and have the whole district of student staff, teachers and everyone there. It’s a great start to the 3-Day!” Ann promises.

Day 1 of the Susan G. Komen 3day walk in Novi, Michigan on August 4, 2017.

After the Opening Ceremony, walkers will start their day along the Walled Lake Trail, which was a hit last year and is one of Ann’s favorite spots on the route!

“We always love the opportunity to walk along the water. Surprisingly, we don’t always get to walk by a lot of lakes, even though we have so many of them in Michigan!”

Other highlights from Day One are Pavilion Shore Park, Novi Ten Shopping Center and Novi Meadows!

There will be minimal route changes as we walk in and out of camp, due to construction, but Ann and the 3-Day team are working hard to make those changes extra special.

“We’re doing our best to fill that area with cheering stations and make that part of the walk exciting and welcoming as people get closer to camp. We want the route to feel different every day!”

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After a fun night at camp, Day Two will take 3-Dayers through the city of Plymouth. That’s where we will see the now famous “Pink Fountain,” which is an excellent spot for photos! After that, we will pass through the city of Northville. Spots to look out for though the rest of the day are Cass Benton and Kellogg Park (a favorite spot of Ann’s!) as well as Northville Downs.

Day Three will again be a similar route to last year’s because it was such a hit in 2017! Much of the day takes place in Dearborn, including a pit stop at the Dearborn Historical Museum. Ann loves this spot, which is a fun destination right in the heart of the downtown of Dearborn.

Ann says, “The whole city of Dearborn in general loves having the 3-Day there. They’re so excited that we are once again hosting our Closing Ceremony in this hometown. The hosts of these Sunday locations are so awesome and supportive. They’re so excited that we come there and always are so thankful.”

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We will finish, as usual, at Ford World Headquarters for our celebratory Closing Ceremony.

Ann promises for a truly inspiring and personal 3-Day experience this year.

“We really worked, especially in Michigan, to make things feel as intimate and personal as possible. We want people to be surrounded by their friends and 3-Day family.”

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She can’t wait to welcome all the 3-Dayers “home” to Michigan in just a few days.

“I’m always excited to get started! It’s so nice to see everyone and be in the Pink Bubble. I love kicking everything off in Michigan for a fun season!”