Congratulations to the 2017 San Diego 3-Day Milestone Award Winner

2015 Head Shot Beach

Please join us in congratulating our 2017 San Diego 3-Day Milestone Award Winner; Julie Copaken! 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 San Diego 3-Day camp show, we presented Julie with this special honor.

10624862_10152678333214547_4923881863721838775_n

She is the Team Captain for The Keepers, and her teammates are not surprised she is being presented with this honor. They have only the best things to say about her! Their testimonials include…

“Julie is one of the most generous, enthusiastic and dedicated people I have ever met.”

“Julie has a warm, enthusiastic, infectious spirit that the carries with her in everything she does. Her passion for life and the people she loves is admirable.”

“Julie stands out as a leading fundraiser. She has consistently been a top fundraiser for the Philadelphia 3-Day and is currently 3rd in lifetime funds raised across all participants. Julie will walk San Diego this year and we are happy to recognize her significant contributions!”

10645157_10152675474839547_6603103370507754_n

They also shared some fun facts about Julie! Did you know that she has an identical twin sister who is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon or that she has a collection of over 5000 shark teeth?! What a fascinating 3-Dayer!

But now let’s hear from Julie herself. When we asked her these questions, she didn’t know she would soon be selected as our winner!

10629248_10152791477964547_9036327202279799572_o

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

I participated in my first 3-Day event in 2005. I was an Associate Brand Manager on the Motrin brand team, and I was responsible for the brand’s national sponsorship of the 3-Day — yes I designed and funded those water bottles some of us still carry with us, and made sure there was plenty of Motrin along the route to help with our sore feet and muscles! As a national sponsor, I was asked to speak at the Philadelphia event, and thought there was no way I could address the crowd unless I had been out there fundraising, training, and ultimately walking the event just like the people I’d be addressing. While I did not have any connection to breast cancer when I started this journey, I was hooked after that first event.

Capes Back

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

First, when I started fundraising, I realized just how many people I know who have been touched by breast cancer. My mom’s friend, my friend’s mom, my colleague – they were all survivors. And then, too many people shared how they had lost a loved one to breast cancer. And then, I started thinking about all the women in my life — my three sisters, my mom, my friends, my aunts, my cousins, my colleagues. One in eight is a staggering statistic, and it just became important for me to do my part. For the record, I hadn’t yet learned that men could be affected by breast cancer too…

Then there was the actual event. From the music at opening ceremony, to the people you meet along the way, to the powerful closing ceremony – it’s addicting. One of my favorite moments – in my life, not just my 3-Day experience – was year one, night two. We’d walked about 26 miles on day 1, and 20 miles on day 2. Needless to say, we were exhausted. But then a band started playing after dinner, and something crazy happened.

We all started dancing on those weary feet and legs of ours, and we danced the night away — we being several hundred women and a few brave men. It was just one of those moments…Truly amazing.

IMG_2007.JPG

Fast forward to Year #4 (2008) when the 3-Day took on new meaning for me. In August 2008 my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

I wore a t-shirt that year that read “4th year walking for boobs everywhere, first year walking for one particular pancreas.” My mom and aunt came to watch me cross the finish line. My dad couldn’t make it – the chemo was taking too big a toll at that time. He died two months later, four months to the day from his diagnosis. Cancer is ugly. And losing a loved one to cancer is awful. I won’t write more about it, because words are not sufficient to describe the loss. If you could see me now as I write, the tears on my cheeks might paint a better picture.

IMG_1998

Then came Year #5 (2009), when I learned that my friend Mary was a breast cancer survivor. I hadn’t known; she’d been in remission from the time I had met her. But, the cancer was back. In a way I feel proud that I had been working to help find a cure for her, even before I knew her. So Year #5 again took on new meaning. My t-shirt read “5th year walking for boobs everywhere, first year walking with a heavy heart.” I walked in support of Mary, and in my dad’s memory, in an effort to find a cure for all cancer, so that fewer people have to suffer the loss I feel every day.

Then fast forward to Year #8 (2012), when the world lost Mary. I hate cancer. So, I walk…
And, funny enough, I no longer walk with anyone I knew pre-3-Day. My teammates are also a BIG reason I come back year after year. Each is an amazing woman I’ve met along the way – Maryanne, a 9-year survivor/thriver who I met around Mile 10 in 2012, and Libby, who lost her mom Brenda to breast cancer in 2012, and who Maryanne and I met at Open Ceremonies in 2014. I can’t wait to see who we might meet along the way this year to add to our team for next year!

550766_10151192522959547_2026239496_n

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

I guess it’s several different things. First, I ask just about anyone I can think of. I build on my list year after year, scouring my email to see who I’ve sent emails to or received emails from. And, for the most part if we’ve exchanged emails, you’re added to the list – a list that is well north of 600 people today, and results in approximately 200 individual gifts/year across the three organizations for whom I raise money (one of which is Komen).

Second, I ask again, and again, and again, and again. I send “Friendly Reminders” to bring my request back up to the top of potential donors’ inboxes knowing that for many people like me, emails can “get buried.” Then I send “3-Weeks Until the 3-Day” and “3-Days Until the 3-Day Fundraising Deadline” reminder emails. I supplement those emails with Facebook posts.

Third, I make it interesting, funny, personal, and if appropriate, competitive – you never know what’s going to be the thing to make someone decide to donate. An example of funny – I have created a “Health of Benevolence” report tracking fundraising efforts over the years and “donor type” (including Family, Family Friends, Philly Friends, and ex-boyfriends, which always gets a laugh).

IMG_2002

An example of personal – including a poem I wrote about my experience of my father’s final days/moments, or sharing a list of everyone for whom I walk (both attached). An example of competitive – if I’m in the running for Top Fundraiser or close to a goal, I share that…people like to help you cross the finish line!

Finally, I follow up to ensure those who can have submitted their matching gift requests. It’s an extra step, but according to my records, I’ve raised nearly $75,000 for Komen in this way since 2010, when my company (Johnson & Johnson) started matching employee gifts 2:1 for Susan G. Komen 3-Day.

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

Do the training. Walking 60 miles is harder than it might seem. And bring an air mattress. The ground is hard! But then, enjoy every moment. Bring some pink flare. Take time to meet people along the way and share your story. Cry if you need to. Someone will comfort you. And then laugh often. And, don’t forget to hydrate and put Vaseline between your toes!

10615627_10152679413789547_8183396242761541556_n

What’s a fun fact about you?

I’m an identical twin. We look a lot alike and it’s always fun when we’re together. Oh, and I’ve taken up a new hobby! I moved to Florida 3 ½ years ago, and I started collecting sharks teeth! I have found nearly 6,000 of them in the last year and a half!

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

Finding your passion and giving yourself to it can be so rewarding in ways you may have never imagined – whether it’s the sense of progress in the fight, the sense of accomplishment in achieving a goal, the network I’ve been able to maintain through my yearly fundraising efforts, or the amazing friends and 3-Day Family I’ve gained along the way and the memories we’ve created together over time… I feel so lucky for all of it…

 

Congratulations to the 2017 Atlanta 3-Day Milestone Award Winner

IMG_1408.JPG

Please join us in congratulating our 2017 Atlanta Milestone Award Winner; Christi Ann Witlberger! 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 Atlanta 3-Day camp show, we presented Christi Ann with this special honor.

To get to know Christi Ann better, we asked the 3-Day community for stories about her, and the she got rave reviews!

10460181_10101408188830457_9210888576795154182_n

Her parents and fellow walkers, Carl and Colleen Ferland, have been supporting Christi Ann on her 3-Day journey for more than a decade! Both of her grandmothers had breast cancer, and so when Christi Ann got involved to help, her parents jumped at the chance to be a part of her cause.

“We own some Denny’s restaurants and she came up with the idea to place a jar at the registers to collect from our customers to help with our fundraising.  This has been a huge success for us!

The employees have really gotten behind us and started having bake sales, garage sales and contests to collect  the most  donations. Christi has been the team captain for all these years, she  has been dedicated to organizing each year’s packets to go out to all the restaurants and track the donations each week. She sends encouragement messages to the restaurants to keep the enthusiasm high.  She tries very hard to keep us all straight with reminders to register and do our on-line check in by due dates and is the first one ready to catch the bus on the mornings of the walk.  We are very proud of Christi’s dedication and commitment to the 3-Day!”

10346186_10101381258638777_1134421428364120369_n

Talk about being a great team player! Now let’s hear about the 3-Day and Christi Ann’s story in her own words. When we asked her these questions, she didn’t know she would soon be selected as our winner!

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

My grandmothers! Both of my grandmothers are breast cancer survivors and I felt like I could honor them by becoming a part of something that could help put an end to this disease. One night I saw a commercial on TV for the walk and I decided at that moment that this was it. I called my mom and told her WE were signing up for this. She went along with it and we just keep coming back for more and now we walk as a family: My dad, my mom and my sister walk alongside with me!!!

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

I enjoy coming back every year because I know that each and every year I walk and fundraise we are closer to a cure. I enjoy the time I get to spend with my parents and sister. The memories we make and the conversations we have are priceless and worth every blister!!!!

1375791_10101018925971347_563951088_n.jpg
What is the secret to your 3-Day fundraising success?

Teamwork! I have not done this alone. Through the use of my dad’s restaurant franchise, we have been able to raise money each year for the 3-Day. Our Denny’s employees and customers are amazing and have helped us succeed each and every year.

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

It’s an amazing and life changing experience. Take it ALL IN. You will laugh and you will cry. You will learn a lot about yourself. You will challenge yourself and your body. When you think you can’t possibly walk one more mile, YOU CAN!!!!! The 3-Day is a family and they will be with you every step of the way!!!!!

What’s a fun fact about you?

I hate running but I am training for my second half marathon this coming March.

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

Just keep going!!!! Carry toilet paper in your backpack 🙂 and the Grahamwiches are tha bomb!! You should have one at every Pit Stop, but beware…..they go fast!! 🙂

IMG_1405.JPG

2017 Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day Wrap-Up

IMG_1000.JPG

On Friday morning of our first West Coast 2017 3-Day, the sky cleared for a bright blue fall sunrise next to the Space Needle at Seattle Center. Our 500 walkers and 175 crew started their journey with a poignant and emotional Opening Ceremony led by local participants.

IMG_1007

Our first Pit Stop of the 3-Day was at Daejon Park after 3.3 miles of walking in perfect weather conditions! Walkers took in the Seattle waterfront as they enjoyed the beach theme of the pit stop, complete with “shark attack” photo opps and a treasure chest of fun 3-Day treats!

IMG_1038

From there, they passed through Mercer Island Park, and an amazing local cheering station before arriving at lunch at Downtown Bellevue Park. With fountains, tiered grassy areas for lounging and eating, and a bright sunshine, it could not have been a more relaxing lunch spot.

That afternoon, walkers passed through more of the Seattle suburbs including Bellevue and Redmond, before arriving home at camp that night. Throughout the whole day (and indeed the whole weekend) the Seattle Police Department worked with our route safety team to keep all the walkers safe as they made their way home.

IMG_1064.JPG

Our walkers ended their day at the picturesque Marymoor Park, which had turned into a 3-Day wonderland for the weekend! From the Bank of America putt putt golf course and massage chairs, to performances by local singers, to our amazing 3-Day Food Service Crew serving up a delicious dinner, our walkers were welcomed home in style after 22.3 miles.

That night at camp show we celebrated our Local Impact Winner, Judy Kent, and Milestone Winner, Erin Havens, for Seattle. Our top fundraisers were also recognized by Bank of America. Congrats to Top Crew Fundraiser John McHale, Top Individual Fundraiser Loretta Englishbee and Top Fundraising Team, the Valley Girls & Guys!

IMG_1114

After a good night’s sleep, the sun rose on another beautiful fall day of walking.

The day kicked off at Grasslawn Park, where some four-legged friends joined the ranks to cheer on our walkers! By Pit Stop 2 at Spinney Homestead Park, our walkers had already clocked 6.9 miles for Day Two. Pit Stop 2 was a fan favorite for its Dr. Seuss theme. It helped remind the walkers that every person is a person, no matter how small – and every step is a step towards the cure!

IMG_1120

Then at lunch at Juanita Beach Park, we met our amazing Seattle 3-Day Youth Corps via Facebook Live, and heard their stories of dedication and strength. Walkers were already halfway done with their second 20-mile day, and taking it all in easy stride!

Right after lunch there was a local cheering station in the beautiful Heritage Park, as the whole community got involved to cheer on our walkers. Plus, it was a great spot for photos!

At Pit Four, and mile 18.5, our walkers could “wet their whistle” at an Old West themed stop. They were cheered on their way to the final miles of the day by the local Susan G. Komen Puget Sound Affiliate, who also brought coffee for an extra caffeine boost at the end of the day.

IMG_1178.JPG

It was friends and family night at camp, so local supporters came to camp at Marymoor Park to play at the Bank of America putt putt and game areas, and continue to cheer on their amazing walkers! Our 20-Mile walkers also joined the 3-Day family that evening before the whole group turned in for their last night of camping.

Day Three dawned a little cooler, but with perfect walking weather for our September Sunday. We began at the University of Washington before walking through Cowen Park to our first Pit Stop of the day. Our walkers were already 3.6 miles closer to the finish line!

IMG_1191

 

From there, there were more miles in nature through Seattle’s gorgeous parks before lunch close to the water at Lake Union Park. With only six miles left in Day Three, walkers then made their way through the iconic Olympic Sculpture Park.

We had a little liquid sunshine as the Sunday afternoon wore on, but our walkers powered through and finished the 60 miles with smiles on their faces. Our closing ceremony was full of love, congratulations and (of course) a lot of dancing feet!

IMG_1219

Our journey is never truly done, though, as was evidenced throughout our closing ceremony. We are all still working, and walking, towards Susan G. Komen’s Bold Goal to reduce the nation’s 40,000 breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.

21586983_1917551221594214_6577381836395293904_o

Photo via Simply Darling Duo

As we hugged and celebrated and danced together, one message rang loud and clear; that though our feet may ache, our spirit and dedication will live forever; through aches, and pain, and blisters. We are shouting loudly and proudly that in this fight, where we seek to live in a world free of breast cancer, WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP. Thank you, Seattle. We are so very proud of each and every one of you.

If you’re ready to be a part of this incredible journey again in 2018, sign up now at The3Day.org/Register.