Why I Walk: How Mark S.’s 3-Day Training Supported His Health Journey

“I know that there are probably very few others on the 3-Day who will understand my excitement to finish 60 miles while battling my illness. I know there are many others who are battling other challenges like mine.”

The 3-Day is an amazing accomplishment for anyone who participates. The fundraising, training, and walk weekend itself push many people out of their comfort zone. Mark S. knew he would be one of those people when he decided to join the Philadelphia 3-Day this year. But Mark also knew that getting out of his comfort zone would be a very good thing!

He was diagnosed with MdDS, Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, in 2016, and has been experiencing a variety of health issues since then.

That, combined with weight gain over the last few decades due to a variety of reasons, led Mark to need — and want! — to make a change in his physical fitness.

“I read that walking helps reduce MdDS symptoms. I had tried walking for exercise many times to try and lose weight before MdDS, so walking seemed like a good option for me. When I first started walking, my limit was ¾ of a mile in 20 minutes. It took another 20 minutes after the walk for my MdDS symptoms to decrease to their “normal” levels. After all my training, I now walk 3 miles in 45 minutes during my lunch break, and the time it takes for my MdDS symptoms to recover from my walks is substantially shorter.”

While he was working on his fitness, Mark decided to join the 3-Day to really jumpstart his progress.

“Walking 60 miles for breast cancer research seemed like the perfect match for my goals. There is no way I could have undertaken this challenge when I was at my heaviest; I could not even manage to walk an entire mile! I imagine the depression, anxiety, and helplessness I often experience with MdDS are some of the same emotions someone has to conquer as they fight breast cancer. But we can all do this!”

Mark began participating in 3-Day training walks, as well as extending his own personal walks. That, combined with healthier eating habits, helped him lose more than 100 pounds!

All of that work culminated in October, when Mark began his first 3-Day in Philadelphia. We caught up with him after he crossed the finish line with a big smile on his face, and he told us how much those 60 miles had meant to him…

The 3-Day weekend was an amazing experience! It was emotional for me personally at the start and of course at the finish. Here I was, challenged to walk even one mile for exercise in early 2018, yet starting a 60-mile journey in October 2019. I never thought I would be at this point where walking this much would be part of my regular daily schedule.

During the walk, it was incredible to talk to others. I met a man who was married for almost 50 years before his wife lost her battle. There was a young mother who just recently finished her final treatment who was walking with her mother. I passed a woman who just had knee surgery four weeks prior but was giving the journey her best. There was a man in an orthopedic boot determined to participate in all 3-Day events this year. The stores were inspiring and will stick with me forever.

I also can’t forget about the Crew! The kids in Youth Corps who truly get what it means to serve others. The people who take the time to decorate the inside of a port-a-potty (I even had to take a picture of the inside of one!). The Safety Crew who made sure walkers were safe. There were so many people giving of their time to make these three days possible!

My walking journey is not finished!

We love seeing walkers like Mark accomplish new goals and reach new heights on the 3-Day and we’re honored to be a part of their wellness journeys.

2019 Philadelphia 3-Day Wrap-Up

Over the weekend, hundreds of walkers, Crew and supporters gathered to celebrate the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day. We were so honored to return to the East Coast, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to bring more awareness to our mission, and the whole Philadelphia community came out in support of this goal.

Our weekend began inside the Grand Ballroom at Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, where hundreds gathered, ready to take on the fight against breast cancer. The sun rose as our Opening Ceremony kicked off with speeches from our local participants, as well as our Bank of America partners. Then, our local survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer led our walkers out into the fall morning.

We had perfect, cool fall walking weather for our first day, which began with walks through Penn’s Landing and Rittenhouse Square. Our first pit stop was at the beautiful Penn Park, marking 3.3 miles down already for the weekend.

The Please Touch Museum was a beautiful landscape for pit stop 2, and then we made our way over the Concourse Lake Trail in the afternoon. After a quick stop at the Rodin Museum Grounds, walkers arrived back home at our hotel camp! We enjoyed 3-Day BINGO, the Bank of America massage chairs, and comfy cozy beds to end Day One on a high note.

Day Two dawned bright and cool again, for another gorgeous day of walking. Right off the bat, walkers passed the Liberty Bell, and then at the first pit stop, our Philadelphia 3-Dayers ran the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Arms raised in the fall sunshine, they celebrated the first of many exciting moments during the day.

The celebrating continued at lunch, thanks to our new Halfway Celebration. We danced, took photos, and relaxed after 30 miles well-walked. Mark especially had a ball leading everyone in the 3-Day flash mob.

In the afternoon, we continued our walk throughout downtown Philadelphia, making everyone’s favorite stop at the Philadelphia Zoo. Giraffes, flamingos, zebras, eagles and more all came out to cheer on the Philadelphia 3-Day! Soon after, walkers again arrived home at our host hotel.

On Saturday night, we hosted an emotional Honor Ceremony, recognizing the loved ones we walk for, as well as honoring the last 15 years of the Philadelphia 3-Day. Everyone ended the night with joy and a new purpose. Philly was all ready for Day Three!

Sunday started off beautiful, with a walk down the historic Elfreth’s Alley to start our morning. Walkers loved snapping photos and taking in the history of this famous street! The photo ops continued after the first pit stop, when we went down Cheesesteak Avenue, and everyone had to pick a side: Pat’s or Geno’s. The walkers remain divided on their cheesesteak choice but united in their goal to finish Day Three!

The rain held off until lunch, but even a little liquid sunshine couldn’t stop these amazing walkers! They passed through Rittenhouse Square and the beautiful 30th Street Station before entering University of Pennsylvania’s campus at the end of their journey.

Our Closing Ceremony was held at Shoemaker Green on the Lawn at Penn for the first time, and despite the rainy weather, it was still a picturesque and wonderful spot to celebrate 60 miles! Walkers crossed the finish line with smiles and hugs all around.

The Closing Ceremony was jam packed with friends and family waiting to celebrate our courageous walkers and crew. Together, we raised $1.7 million toward the fight to end breast cancer. Philadelphia, thank you. We are so honored and grateful for everything you have done for our 3-Day family over the years.

Congratulations to the 2019 Philadelphia 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Riley Weston

Riley (at left)

Please join us in congratulating our 2019 Philadelphia Milestone Award Winner; Riley Weston. 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 Philadelphia 3-Day camp show, we presented Riley with this special honor.

Riley has participated in the 3-Day for nine years and raised more than $180,000 in that time! Coach Carol, who has known Riley as a fellow walker and a coach, says she is “the most talented, humble person you would every have that chance to meet.”

That love is echoed by her friend, Lyndell, who says,

“I met the amazing Riley Weston seven years ago when I joined team Faith Girlz to walk for such a worthy cause. I was feeling down about the passing of my best friend. While my BFF didn’t have breast cancer (brain cancer), cancer had hit my family and started touching people who I cared deeply about.

Over the last few years, Riley and I have formed a friendship that has helped me grow as a person and an advocate in many ways. Her passion for finding a cure is contagious! Her efforts to continually raise a great amount of money shows her commitment to the cause and this organization. I am thrilled that Riley is receiving this year’s Milestone Award! I am proud to be a Faith Girl and honored to be able to call her my sistah and my friend. :)”

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

I had lost my grandmother. My aunt (her daughter) was in remission. My sister asked me to do the walk with her in 2010 when her friend backed out at the last minute.

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

Since then, I have lost my sister to triple negative breast cancer. One of the promises I made to her was that I would not stop walking, raising money and awareness until this disease was something we spoke about in past tense. My cousin is also now in remission like my aunt!

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

Take no prisoners! Seriously though, I do not have matching funds, so I really just talk to people about breast cancer and what it has done to me and my family. I also ask them if they’ve even heard of triple negative, which most of them have not. I explain the research that Susan G. Komen does and how they reach so many people. Personally, I tell them when I lost my own health insurance, it was Komen who made sure I was still getting mammograms.

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

My sister used to say this a lot and I still do for her: SUCK IT UP, CUPCAKE! And HAVE FUN!

What’s a fun fact about you?

I’m a believer in the impossible, I’m obsessed with my chocolate lab, Joe Bob, and never say no to a good apple pie moonshine, honey whiskey or cookie dough. Not necessarily in that order 😉

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

That life is way too short, that these women I’ve met are my friends for life and that we CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!