Meet Cathy O’Grady, Philadelphia 3-Day T-Rex

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October is an awesome month for many reasons; the Atlanta 3-Day, it’s Fall, and its Halloween! To help with your costume planning, we have some prehistoric inspiration from the Philadelphia 3-Day. Cathy O’Grady has walked the Boston 3-Day twice, and also walked in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Arizona. She’s also crewed the Philadelphia 3-Day twice.

If you were on the Philadelphia 3-Day you may know Cathy, even if you don’t know her face, and it might be hard to know her face – because Cathy is also known as the Philadelphia T-Rex! In addition to her crewing duties, Cathy keeps the walkers laughing and smiling through all 60 miles of their 3-Day journey, as well as giving them some great photo opportunities. What makes her such a dedicated 3-Dayer? Let’s find out!

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How did you first become involved with the 3-Day?

I lost my mother to breast cancer and I always wanted to get involved but constantly made excuses why I couldn’t do it. One summer, I was speaking to my friend from Utah and she informed me that she would come to Boston and walk with me. That’s all I needed to hear so I immediately signed up. I never realized what a life-changing experience I was about to undergo.

What were your first 3-Day experiences like?

I and my friend Tracy had NO idea what we were doing. We didn’t train, we wore the wrong type of sneakers and just followed the crowds to walk from Framingham to Waltham. We started as a team of 2 and, by the time we got to Waltham, we were a team of thousand, because everyone was our friend.

Day 2 brought torrential downpours and lots of unhappy walkers…but not us! We hunkered down in our tent and just made memories. […]

The following year, we were a team of twelve. We formed the “Sofia’s Angels” (the same year I started my nonprofit foundation under the same name).  We perform real acts of kindness! As small as leaving quarters on gumball machines to giving coats, scarves and other warm items for the homeless, to paying off over 20K in layaways at Christmas time at Toys ‘R’ Us. Most recently we were able to raise 50K to purchase a handicap-accessible van for a family!

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When did you first don the T-Rex costume and why?

Last year, I had signed up to crew in Philly.  It was my first time crewing and, being a previous walker, I knew how much strength and laughter I took away from seeing people at the cheering stations. I wanted to do something big! What’s big? A T-Rex! So I ordered it and, although I was sweating in it, it was truly so rewarding to see all the walkers and random people smiling and approaching me for pictures.

How do you keep the walkers smiling all weekend?

I have hidden and jumped out to scare them. I have chased them for a hug. I have held their hands as they crossed the finish line and coming back to camp. I danced with them at camp. I smiled more than they did through all of this because I could see how much they loved it. The best part was that people didn’t know who I was so, when I wasn’t wearing the T-Rex, I would hear people talking about finding T-Rex for pictures!

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Why is laughter important on the 3-Day?

I think all the emotions we feel during the 3-Day are important. Laughter is contagious! Seeing someone laughing and smiling, you can’t help but do the same.

What are other tips or “must-dos” do you have for 3-Dayers?

You must sit back and just take in all that is happening around you. I rushed through my first 3-Day and felt like I didn’t take the opportunity to really appreciate the experience. Also, talk to others! EVERYONE has a story and everyone is willing to share it.

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What keeps you coming back year after year?

I feel like I’m making a difference. I just became a grandmother to a beautiful baby girl and, by the time she is old enough to understand what breast cancer WAS, I want it to be a WAS.

We agree, Kathy – we can’t wait until the day that breast cancer is extinct. Thanks for cheering on our 3-Day family with your terrific T-Rex!

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2017 Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day Wrap Up

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Mother Nature could not have provided better weather for our last 3-Day of the month, with the sun rising on a warm and sunny day for Opening Ceremony on Friday. The ceremony was a heartfelt one, led by local favorite (and Philly top fundraiser!) Kathy DiRusso, our Honors Speakers, as well as breast cancer survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer.

As Katy Perry’s “Roar” echoed over the grounds of Willow Grove Park Mall, our walkers headed out on the route to start their 60-mile journey.

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At Pit Stop 1, they took a deep dive under the see for “Fin-tastic Fun,” and their first grahamwiches of the day! They had already walked 2.4 miles, and were heading towards Bra Street, a local cheering section that is a favorite of local and out-of-town walkers alike. It was the perfect spot for team photos, and to feel the love from Philly.

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Before they knew it, they had already made it to lunch at the New Covenant Church, which provided a perfect balance of sun and shade for our walkers to relax, dig in to their meal, and even do some stretches. They had already walked 10.8 miles after all! We also met our Youth Corps at lunch via Facebook Live, so check the 3-Day Facebook page to hear their stories.

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That afternoon, there were more local pit stops before coming to Pit 4 at the Flowertown Picnic Area. Here, walkers could receive “3-Day Awards,” including special stars for survivors. As they entered the park, the Youth Corps had set up hop scotch to give them even more fun as they walked!

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Then, after a successful 19.7 miles on Day 1, they came home to camp at Germantown Academy. Many visited the massage chairs at the Bank of America Tent, or played games on camp’s Main Street before our Camp Show for the evening. Then we honored the top fundraisers for Philadelphia, as well as awarding the Milestone and Local Impact winners for the year.

Day 2 began as pretty as Day 1 had ended, and walkers were dropped at Fort Washington State Park to start their day surrounded by more beautiful nature.

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After 6.7 miles, they arrived at Pit Stop 2 in Pastorius Park, to be greeted by some well-known figures. Historical American heroes like Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin greeted our walkers, helped them add their own John Hancock to the “Declaration of the 3-Day,” and took lots of photos.

From there, it was on to lunch at Kendrick Park & Playground, where walkers stopped for a dance break with Youth Corps. They had already walked 16.2 miles by the time they reached Pit Stop 3 at Houston Playground!

From there they passed several local cheering stations with everything from DJs to free pizza to breast cancer bracelets, and of course, plenty of cheer from the community! This helped propel them through a hilly second half of the day.

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They ended the day back at Germantown Academy for Friends & Family night at camp. There they played games and relaxed in the massage chairs at the Bank of America tent, had a group dance party and tucked in to the famous 3-Day mac n’ cheese before lights out on Day 2.

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Day 3 started off cooler, as walkers were bused to the Philadelphia Zoo. The staff gave our walkers a wild kick-off to their day thanks to visits with animals including cheetahs, Bald Eagles, hippos, giraffes and more!

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After that, there were several amazing cheer stations along Kelly Drive, including one at the beautiful Gillin Boathouse along the river. On the way to lunch, many walkers also took a slight detour to run part of the Rocky steps and get their inner champion going.

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Then they lunched at the spacious ground of the Rodin Art Museum, passing through Love Park as they exited. From there, they explored more of downtown Philadelphia, even passing Independence Hall, as they walked their final 8 miles of the 3-Day.

Before the finish line, though, they made a stop at Pit Stop 2 on Passyunk Avenue. After 13.4 miles on the day, walkers paused at either (or both!) Geno’s or Pat’s for a classic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich to give them an extra boost.

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The drumline from the Philadelphia Eagles welcomed the walkers to the Finish Area at the Navy Yard, where many danced down the Mohawk pink carpet to cross the final finish line in style. Then, at Closing Ceremony we all took the time to thank the 400 walkers and 250 crew members who helped raise more than $1.1 million towards Susan G. Komen’s Bold Goal.

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.

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As we hugged and celebrated and danced in the sun, 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, Philadelphia.

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

 

Congratulations to the 2017 Philadelphia 3-Day Milestone Award Winner

Please join us in congratulating our 2017 Philadelphia Milestone Award Winner; Leedrester Jackson. 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 Leedrester with this special honor.

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This is her 12th year walking the 3-Day, and she is a 30-year breast cancer survivor, having beaten breast cancer three times. She has also raised nearly $5,500 this year alone!

She is well-known in Philadelphia, and we wanted to hear about the 3-Day and Leedrester’s story in her own words. When we asked these questions, she didn’t know she would soon be selected as our winner!

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

As a breast cancer survivor, I wanted to be a part of helping people detect cancer early enough to beat it, and finally find a cure.  In 2005, The 3-Day came to Philadelphia and the 68 – year old lady “lost her senses” and volunteered to walk 60 miles in three days and if that wasn’t enough, to camp out for two nights.

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

I walk because… as a three-time breast cancer survivor, I continue to enjoy good health and so I walk for those who can’t.

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

I send letters to family, friends and church family (Grace Baptist Church of Germantown – Rev. Dr. James H. Buck, Jr., Pastor) many of whom have been prayerfully and financially supportive of me on my eleven years 3-Day journey.  My supporters are committed to helping find a cure for breast cancer.  They do the donating and I do the walking.

After the walk, I show them how much I appreciate them by sending   thank you letters in which I share the weekend events with pictures.

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Leedrester got a standing ovation from her fellow Philly 3-Dayers

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

Practice, practice, practice on the hills because Philly is very hilly and keep your feet lubricated.

What’s a fun fact about you?

2017 Weekend Destination Birthday Celebration celebrated with 74 women. The Lord blessed me to celebrate 80 years young and I am a three-time breast cancer survivor: 30 years, 15 years, and 7 years. This was truly a fun fact weekend.

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

I have learned that you need to stay hydrated, stay alert, keep stretching and take good care of your feet.

On behalf of all of us walking, crewing, and supporting the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, thank you Leedrester.