Congratulations to the 2019 Twin Cities 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Cynthia Geye

Please join us in congratulating our 2019 Twin Cities Milestone Award Winner; Cynthia Geye. 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 Twin Cities 3-Day camp show, we presented Cynthia with this special honor.

Before she left home for the 3-Day this year, we talked to Cynthia about what the 3-Day means to her. She is walking this year with her granddaughter Callie Powers, and walking for Jen, Callie’s mom and Cindy’s daughter. When Callie was born, Cindy had just completed treatment and she told the family that Callie would be her reason to live and keep fighting. Now, Callie is walking with Cindy for the first time, in Jen’s honor.

Jen says that Cindy is “a very positive person, always looking on the bright side, laughing and is totally goofy. She has made this walk her passion and will not stop until we eradicate this disease.”

We are honored to share Cindy’s story, in her own words, below…

Back in 2005, one year after surviving 3 bouts of metastatic breast cancer, my oldest daughter suggested, no, she insisted that we do something big in the fight against breast cancer. She had seen an ad for the Susan G. Komen 3-day Breast Cancer walks. She used every coercive method she could to convince me to walk. I, of course, came up with every imaginable excuse as to why I should NOT walk. But, walk we did (even convinced my younger daughter to join us).

Since then, I have walked every year and every city multiple times. Sometimes with my daughters and many times as a solo walker. This year, I am walking with my granddaughter. This is my 27th walk and each walk is so memorable. With every walk, I meet new friends. We share our stories, our tears, our hopes for the future. We laugh, we cry, and we support one another. Each walk is 3 days full of kindness, caring and commitment.

When I first started walking, there was a song titled “Why We Walk.” The refrain says it all: “We walk to remember. We walk to celebrate…. For those who are gone and those who live on. We honor them all and that’s why we walk.”

You see, God has given me amazing health these last 20+ years and I can use it to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. The blisters, aches and pains are nothing compared to what every cancer patient goes through when we are battling this disease.

As I am a fast walker, I have been told many times that it is not how fast you walk, but, rather, enjoying the 3-Day journey. This is about all the people, not just the walkers.

It’s all the people that come out to cheer us on. The bald women with their signs that say “Thank you. You’re walking for me.”  To know that we are helping them have a second chance at life. Every survivor, no matter where they live, deserve the best possible care.

It’s about the little girls holding their signs that say, “Please find a cure before I grow up.”  To have the color pink be more than the symbol for breast cancer, but rather the color for hair ribbons and prom dresses.

This is not about what you endure while walking – the blisters, aches and pains – it is so much more.  It is what you walk away with – the memories that will last a lifetime.  While my own cancer journey was very scary, not knowing if I would survive, it has ended up as a true gift.  It has brought me many blessings, a deeper faith and a richer perspective on life.  It has brought me to the 3-Day.

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!

Congratulations to the 2018 San Diego 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Sue Cloonan

Sue Cloonan_SD Milestone Award Winner

Please join us in congratulating our 2018 San Diego Milestone Award Winner; Sue Cloonan! 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 Sue with this special honor.

Our coaching team was so excited to present this award to Sue, who has maintained a position as a top 10 fundraiser for many years as part of her team, Walking and Wine-ing. She is such an important and beloved part of our 3-Day community, and has raised $153,349 over the course of her 10 events!

Her Aunt Patty says that Sue “is a family oriented person who puts herself out over and over again to help family and friends. A wonderful daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, niece and friend – we are so lucky to have her in our family. She inspires me and others by her example.”

We then talked to Sue herself, who gave us an inside peak into her love for the 3-Day…

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

All the people that I’ve met at the golf course where I worked to help find a cure. So many people affected by cancer.

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

The 3 day is the way the world should be!!!! Everyone supporting everyone!

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

An amazing support from my customers, vendors and associates! All donating and supporting for the cause. My event became the event of the year. The spirit, dedication: all for a cause

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

Commit to 2 walks . The first one is amazing and then it becomes more amazing every year.

What’s a fun fact about you? 

I love to give hugs and listen to people!!! And I love wine (red especially)

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

ENJOY Every moment! All the supporters, walkers, volunteers.