Burt Lipshie’s Fundraising Milestone: $250,000 Raised

“The 3-Day has given me a purpose beyond my own day-to-day life. I cannot imagine what the last 16 years would have been without it.” —Burt Lipshie

We are honored to celebrate Burt Lipshie, 29-time 3-Day walker, on surpassing the incredible fundraising milestone of $250,000 raised for the 3-Day! We marvel at the ways in which he’s made the world a better place through his participation and fundraising. We asked Burt to answer a few questions that we’re excited showcase here today on the 3-Day blog.

How did you get involved with the 3-Day?

My sweet cousin, Judy Lipshie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. The tumor was small, and her lymph nodes were clear, so after a lumpectomy and radiation, she and her doctors thought she was done with it. However, two years later after suffering what felt like a torn muscle in her abdominal area, Judy got the news that her breast cancer had metastasized to her liver. Over the next three years, she was a fighter who did all she could. She was a true champion. But she could not conquer the beast. She died, still in the prime of her life, in April 2004 at 62 years of age.

Several weeks later as I was in my office, Judy just seemed to be everywhere. I could really feel her presence. I emailed her daughters to tell them that I was having a “Judy Day,” and they wrote back that they weren’t surprised. They were having one, too. They thought their momma was proud of them that day because they had just signed up for the 2004 Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day. I told them I was proud of them too, and that I would surely contribute to help them reach their goals.

I thought about it for a couple of days and knew I could not let them do this without me. I needed to put my body on the line as well to fight back against Judy’s killer, so we walked together. As we cried on each other’s shoulders at the end of the Closing Ceremony, I realized that I had found my life’s cause. The 2020 New England 3-Day would have been my 30th walk.

We all know raising money during a global pandemic isn’t easy, but how have you done it?

I am blessed with an extraordinary donor group. My donations are somewhat lower this year than prior years, but not dramatically. In this year’s fundraising emails I have focused on reminding them that breast cancer does not practice social distancing, and that it is not “on pause” because of the pandemic. Indeed, breast cancer patients and survivors, with their compromised immune systems and vulnerability to the economic disaster the pandemic has caused, are among the most at-risk segments of our community. I think that struck a responsive chord. Additionally, Komen’s decision to put all 3-Day donations through the end of June into the COVID-19 Action Fund also really helped. I could honestly tell my donors that their dollars were going directly to assist people who needed help the most.

What is your secret to raising so much money every year?

I wish I had a secret that I could share. You know that old saying, “Choose your parents wisely”? That can be applied to donors as well. I haven’t done anything special. I write emails to my friends and colleagues, make them cry, and then I just become the conduit for their incredible caring and generosity. I suppose that it helps that they know how hard the 3-Day is from all of my prior emails and journals, and I have found that keeping the group apprised of how training is going and of any news that Komen has shared on the scientific front helps to remind those who might otherwise put off making an annual donation.

What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?

Of course, it is mostly the cause. I need to do all I can to help see to it that Judy did not die in vain. I need to do all I can to help bring about the day when no other man or woman, no other family, loses a person they love to breast cancer.

But there is also the 3-Day community. Little did I know back in 2004 that I would quickly become embraced by this extraordinary group of people. Since 2008, I have done two walks every year – Dallas/Fort Worth with my cousins, and first Chicago, then Michigan, with my dear friend, Mary Larson. When, a few years ago, Mary thought she was through walking, I decided that I would cut back to walking only Dallas/Fort Worth, and that that year’s Michigan walk would be my last. However, by the time that Michigan 3-Day was done, I had already signed up for the next year.

How could I give up spending that long weekend with all the friends I had made over the years? The 3-Day community is very, very, special.

What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?

You can well imagine that over 29 3-Day walks I have accumulated many memories. A couple stick out.

The most meaningful for me happens every year in Dallas. In the Spring of 2004, I was asked to participate in a conference on the future of legal education held at SMU Law School in Dallas. Judy was then living with her mom in Abilene but had spent most of her adult life in Dallas, and she had planned to come to Dallas while I was there and sneak in to hear me speak. However, by the time the conference was held, she was already in hospice. After the conference, I took a long lonely walk along Turtle Creek, where she and I had so often walked together. This time, my steps took me all the way up to Curtis Park. There, sitting on a bench, I spoke with Judy by phone. It was the last time I heard her voice. She died two days later.

Every year, the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day goes through Curtis Park, and passes “Judy’s Bench.” Every year, I get to walk by that sad place with hundreds of others fighting the same fight that for me began on that bench. It is always a highly emotional moment for me. In 2019, one of the 3-Day legends, Jim Hillmann, was walking with me when we got there, and he already knew my story from prior years. When I reached the bench, and essentially dissolved, Jim was right there to get me through it. His kindness at that moment embodied the 3-Day spirit.

Another powerful memory is also from the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. It was day three, and our route had us turning down Houston Street heading toward Dealey Plaza. There, at a small informal cheering station, sat an elderly woman holding a sign that thanked us for walking “from a 50-year survivor.” Without even thinking about it, I stopped, knelt at her feet, and took and kissed her hand. We both cried. I could go on for days about powerful 3-Day memories, but those may be the clearest in my mind.

How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?

The 3-Day spirit and the mission is much more than just the three days of the event. It is year-round. As I always write to my donors during October, “you and I don’t need no stinkin’ awareness month.” My pink Komen bracelet is on my wrist every minute of every day. When I go out for a walk, whether for training or (especially these past couple of months) to get out of the house and get some air, I always wear a 3-Day shirt, 3-Day hat, and hot pink sneakers, along with my fanny pack festooned with 3-Day pins. I want always to be a walking billboard.

Every once in a while, it pays off when a woman passing me or going the other way looks at my get-up, and I can see in her face that she is thinking, “Yes, I need to make an appointment for a mammogram.”

Now that you’ve raised $250,000, what’s the next goal you’ve got your eyes on?

The thought that I have actually raised $250,000 is still astonishing to me. I remember so vividly when I sent out my first fundraising email in the Spring of 2004, I was wondering how much of the minimum fundraising requirement I could raise through donors and how much I would have to self-donate to do that one walk.

Amazingly, I wound up the number three fundraiser for San Diego 3-Day in 2004. Those wonderful people have never stopped donating. A few weeks ago, within moments of receiving the donation that put me over $250,000, I received another donation.

I thought how fitting it was to immediately start on the next $250,000. Well, it took me 16 years to raise this much. At my age, I cannot imagine being able to do this for another 16 years…there is, after all, only one George Nummer. However, my goal remains what it has been from the first dollar I raised: to do everything I can to slay the monster that murdered my Judy. So, for as long as I can, I will keep fundraising and walking.

Tell us what the 3-Day means to you.

The 3-Day has enabled me to fight back against my beloved cousin’s killer.

It has allowed me to be the conduit for the generosity of the many people in my world who have responded to my fundraising emails over the years.

It has brought me lifelong friends from among those I have met on event, and from my own local New York group of walkers.

The 3-Day has given me a purpose beyond my own day-to-day life. I cannot imagine what the last 16 years would have been without it.

Burt, we cannot thank you enough for your passion, dedication, and heart. THANK YOU for your commitment to making a difference in the fight against breast cancer. We are inspired by you and grateful for the contribution you’ve made to lead our Komen 3-Day family with your remarkable fundraising accomplishment!

Burt’s achievement will qualify him for the next level in the Lifetime Commitment Circle. He joins Loretta Englishbee, Kathy Giller and Bert Stein as Impact members at the $250,000 level.

2016 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Award Winners and Honorees

Saturday evening’s camp show at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is all about celebration: walkers celebrate completing an amazing 40 miles, crew members high-five over giving hours upon hours of service to their fellow 3-Dayers, and everyone celebrates each other. It’s true that every walker and crew member could rightfully be given a medal for their accomplishments, but since that isn’t really possible, we do like to take time at the end of Day 2 to recognize some walkers and crew members for outstanding achievements. We were pleased to award the following outstanding walkers, crew members and teams in Dallas/Fort Worth:

Top Individual Fundraiser

Our top fundraiser this year, Liz Fagan, raised an impressive $12,011 this season. In her three years with the 3-Day, she has raised over $17,000. Liz Fagan is an emergency room physician who won the EmCare Commitment to Care award, which is voted on by patients. You’re truly dedicated, Liz.

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Top Team Fundraiser

We’re thrilled to announce that Top Team Fundraising award winner is Pink Soles in Motion, who have raised an astonishing $150,000 this year, with 85 team members! In their amazing 11 years as a 3-Day team, they have raised $1,469,646. WOW!

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Top Crew Fundraiser

Our Top Crew Fundraiser this year is Pamella Whitham, who has participated in 13 events. In her time with the 3-Day, she has raised over $55,000 for Susan G. Komen. Pamella loves Paris and her home in Malibu, where she is a realtor. She loves time with her husband, children, garden, ducks, and chickens, and especially, her eight grandchildren. You’re a star, Pamella!

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Top Training Walk Leader: Mary Tengra

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Join us in congratulating Mary! Every year you’ll see Mary in a new outfit and hat on the event. She’s worn everything from a birthday cake to a sphere of pink Styrofoam cups on her head. Her talent and creativity keeps people searching for her outrageous outfits at Opening Ceremony every year. Mary is a 20-year breast cancer survivor; she has been a dedicated team captain of NO WALKER LEFT BEHIND since 2011 and welcomes new walkers to her team every year. She’s a no-nonsense leader telling new people, “be prepared to participate in group fundraiser and tell your family they’re going to be just fine without you while you’re out training with us.” Mary has a way of embracing walkers like family and as her team name reflects, there are NO WALKERS LEFT BEHIND. One of her teammates said: “I’ve been walking w/ Mary for 5 years and we have never gotten lost, turned around maybe, walked longer than we planned maybe, skipped a couple turns maybe but never lost….” Here’s what a few other teammates have said about Mary:

  • “When you say to Mary, ‘I thought we were not doing hills today!’ her response is, ‘this is not a hill it’s an incline.’”
  • “And finally when planning our 3-day décor, nothing for Mary is too big, too bright, too over-the-top, has too many feathers, has too much bling or is just way too uncomfortable.”
  • “Mary, we love you and Thanks for being more than a Captain; Thanks for being a true friend!”

Milestone Award and Local Impact Award

These two other special awards are presented to participants who stand out and shine extra brightly in a sky of very bright 3-Day stars. The Milestone Award is given at each event to one participant who has an extraordinary history of involvement with the 3-Day, and the Local Impact Award recognizes a participant in each 3-Day city who has been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day in their community throughout the year.

Milestone Award Recipient: Catrina Gibson

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Catrina has participated in 11 events and this year will make 12 & 13, being in Dallas/Forth Worth and San Diego. She has raised over $59,000 and leads the team Pink Soles in Motion. Her dedication to Komen and the memory of her beautiful mother who she lost in 2000 has given her the drive and determination to never give up when it comes to fundraising and recruiting walkers to join the fight. A verse that she lives by is: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9). Catrina, thank you for never giving up and coming back to raise money and walk for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day year after year. Here are some fun facts about Catrina:

    • When Catrina arrives to an early morning training walk and there’s a great song on the radio, you can catch her jamming in her car until it’s over.
    • She tortured herself for five days of Orange Theory Fitness workouts for a great looking t-shirt.
    • She has mastered removing the under layer of clothing while walking.

Teammate Sandy Sauceda said about Cat, “One of the best memories I have with Cat at the 3-day is when she convinced me to walk wearing our Cure Bear costumes.  This is not like me but I had so much fun.  She brings that out in people. We walked more together as a group that year and chanted and laughed so much!  She Inspires! She has been a TWL for 8 years and has lead most of our walks, especially the 18 miler (nobody is crazy about that) but she is always game.  She gets all going and makes sure that we have what we need (walker stalkers) to make it.  She is dedicated! She gives even when it is hard. Life gets crazy and being a captain of a large team is stressful. Catrina is always there taking on more than her share to make the team successful.  She cares!”

Local Impact Award Winner: Dr. Sheryl Cowan

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Dr. Cowan has been a 3-Day participant since 2009 and has walked in 9 events up to this year. She registered for all seven of the 2016 cities and raised the money to participate in every one. Due to her commitment to her community and patients, she will attend four in person and walk the rest around the city of Plano where she lives. She has raised over $48,000 and contributes the generous donations she receives from her colleagues to her team mates on STEPS, which stands for Screening, Treatment, Educations and Programs. Sheryl held a board position with the Komen Dallas County Affiliate and her commitment to Komen and breast health never waivers. She has created an amazing, family-oriented atmosphere with Team STEPS as well as others and has rallied the troops to not only help each other, but she has led the charge to help the local community, especially during the 2015 tornadoes that swept through Texas.

Here’s a little bit about Sheryl from her teammates: “Sheryl carries business cards with her at all times. Wherever she goes she finds a connection with people through health or fitness or a family member touched by cancer. She gives them her card as a personal contact if they are in need of medical help, as a way to tie them in with Team STEPS through our Facebook page, or to offer an opportunity to walk the 3-Day in honor of someone with breast cancer. Sheryl is very much a believer that everyone has something to contribute to a team so that the team can achieve its goal. The goal of the 3-Day is to raise funds and walk 60 miles. She connects people who need help with fundraising, people who have aches and pains that need stretching, solo walkers who need motivation. She finds that strength in each person which is why our members keep coming back. They feel needed and appreciated. “Although we began as a group of walkers under the name Team STEPS, we have grown to be a team of walkers passionate about “saving lives and curing diseases”. Our training walks, under Sheryl’s leadership, are inclusive of teams from all over Dallas and its suburbs. We consider everyone an important part of the 3-Day family no matter the team they register under and invite them to train with us. Sheryl has said that she is not the “cutesie/tutu type” personality. Her team was built to train any walker who wants to walk the 60 miles to reach that goal.”

Please join us in giving a round of applause and a high 5 to all of these extraordinary 3-Day participants. With your help, we’re 60 miles closer to ending breast cancer forever!