The 2021 Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day was two years in the making. With lots of planning and pivoting and Covid protocols and safety measures put into place, the Komen 3-Day family finally reunited in beautiful San Diego this past weekend! And what a beautiful and magical three days it was. Grateful and excited participants, volunteers and staff took over the city of San Diego after a two-year hiatus and picked up right where we left off in November of 2019.
Friday morning was cool and hazy as walkers, filled with excitement, started to make their way into the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Thousands of people decked out in their pink outfits, pink accessories, and even pink masks eagerly gathered for the Opening Ceremony. The crowd was buzzing with elation and anticipation as the ceremony began, freely waving ribbons in the air. We heard from participants whose lives were affected by breast cancer, highlighting how Komen’s four pillars of research, care, community and action have played a role in their personal experience with breast cancer.
Our survivors and those living with metastatic breast cancer led us out on the route to signal the start of our 60-mile journey together. A parade of pink took their first steps on the route, passing Dog Beach and continuing into Del Mar Village.
A tunnel of cheerleaders and walker stalkers greeted walkers as they passed by one of our favorite neighborhoods on the route! Their eyes widened as they passed through the pink-hued bubbles from the bubble machine and welled up as they felt the love from the Del Mar community. Passing through a huge arch of bright pink balloons with pink bras scattered around the building next door was one of the highlights of this spot along the route!
Walkers then stopped for a quick snack at the second pit stop along Torrey Pines Beach, posing for photos on the lifeguard towers before heading up the infamous Torrey Pines Hill. At the bottom of the hill, walker stalkers cheered boisterously and held signs with words of encouragement. Walkers certainly earned their lunch at Kellogg Park after trekking up the steep hill!
One of the most beloved spots along the route is the Children’s Pool in La Jolla, where walkers watched the seals down below sunbathing on the rocks. Walkers stopped to pose for photos at this fan-favorite destination. They made their way through the quaint neighborhood of Bird Rock, where a handful of shops and boutiques were handing out goodies. This was a perfect spot to take a break and admire the colorful mosaic benches scattered throughout the neighborhood!
Later that day, walkers made their way past Fanuel Street Park and then into camp, buzzing with excitement to pitch their pink tents! Smiles across their faces emerged as they crossed off their first 20 miles. They ended the day with full stomachs from dinner and yummy desserts, some settling into camp overnight, and others heading off in shuttle buses to local hotels. They ended the day with full stomachs from dinner and yummy desserts, the perfectly sweet and tart lemon bars were a favorite among walkers!
At camp, walkers picked up mail from friends and family as well as legacy pins they had earned. ecoATM provided highly coveted battery packs that walkers used to charge their phones at camp and Natura Bissé provided refreshing mists and samples to try throughout the weekend. There also was a ShopKomen tent with clothing and accessories available for purchase, our sweet mocktails and munchies, and massage chairs provided by Bank of America.
Our Friday night activities officially kicked off as the last walker made his way into camp and raised the flag. Afterwards, the Bingo Boyz took the stage for a night full of bingo, prizes, and lots of laughs!
At our Bank of America Breakfast of Champions, we celebrated our top fundraisers and awarded them with donations toward their 2022 3-Day fundraising provided by Bank of America. These participants raised an astounding amount of money this year that is helping us get that much closer to a world without breast cancer.
Afterwards, walkers headed onto the route for Day 2 as they passed over the bridges of Mission Bay and crossed into Ocean Beach, enjoying the views of the water as the sun peeked out from behind the morning marine layer.
The San Diego bike cops grooved with and greeted walkers into the Sunset View Elementary pit stop before stopping to take photos at picturesque Sunset Cliffs!
After walking along the stunning ocean-front streets of Sunset Cliffs, walkers made their way to lunch at Bonita Cove where a multitude of walker stalkers and furry friends cheered them on. At lunch our Halfway Celebration welcomed in walkers as they passed through the metallic silver and pink streamers. The DJ cranked up the tunes and gathered a large crowd of hyped-up walkers, crew and youth corps for the “Cupid Shuffle” and “Wobble.”
They walked through the quaint town of Mission Beach and back along toward camp at Crown Point Shores. On the last mile of the route, the first-ever Memorial Mile featured photos of loved ones who had lost their battle with breast cancer. Quietly and solemnly, walkers made their way back to camp, many with a lump in their throat and tears on their face, as they walked by the beautiful photos of those for whom we walk.
This led us into the Honor Ceremony later that night where we were reminded of why we walk, why we fundraise, and why we commit to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.Three participants shared their personal stories with us about the people who motivate and inspire them to walk. At the end of the ceremony, we turned to those beside us and told them about who we walk for, sharing stories, memories, and hugs with strangers who quickly became family. And then we solidified our commitment by lighting our candles for those we’ve lost.
On the morning of Day 3, walkers woke up to one of the most beautiful orange and pink sunrises emerging over the water at Crown Point Shores as they lined up at the start line to finish their 60 miles. We all took a moment to appreciate the beauty that San Diego had to offer and be thankful for the weekend of sunny skies and warm weather. 40 miles down, and 20 to go.
Walkers made their way through Mission Beach to the first pit stop at Belmont Park and passed by Sea World. After passing this San Diego staple, they walked to Old Town and conquered Juan Street Hill! We watched as a pair of walkers hiked up the hill and embraced each other at the top with tears filling their eyes. It was an emotional moment, witnessing the strength and determination that is within each of the people in the Pink Bubble.
After the journey up Juan Street Hill, walkers had lunch at the beautiful Pioneer Park in Mission Hills. Our crew was there with the biggest smiles and made sure everyone received delicious wraps and salads to fuel them along the remainder of their walk. Walkers rested on Mohawk Flooring’s SmartCushions as they enjoyed their lunch under the shady trees before heading to the medical tent for massages!
Walkers stopped at the Walgreens cheer station in Hillcrest for snacks, drinks, and were elated to be offered anti-inflammatory gel to help them on their final leg of the journey!
At the final pit stop in Balboa Park, the crew was ready to serve up drinks and snacks as the sun beamed down in the afternoon. A cutout of Captain Jack Sparrow was there to welcome walkers into the “Pirates of the Cari-bosom” themed pit stop. Crew certainly dressed to impress for the theme, complete with everything from pirate hats to eye patches. One walker stalker and his talking pet parrot, Emmy, even came out to cheer everyone on!
It was an emotional end as walkers crossed the finish line into Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego. Many walkers Facetimed with friends and family who could not be there with them as they walked through to the end.
Walkers and crew were excited to receive their finisher medal from our National Presenting Sponsor, Bank of America as a symbol of their incredible accomplishment. Our 2021 3-Day season ended with one of the most memorable Closing Ceremonies that honored survivors, walkers, crew, and Youth Corps. The crowd of pink was set against a stunning view of the downtown skyline on one side and palm trees lining the street on the other. Together, we continued the tradition of raising our shoes to salute breast cancer survivors and those living with breast cancer, filled with so much love for our 3-Day family and for those we walk in honor of.
Our 2,300 walkers, 250 crew and 180 20-mile walkers celebrated as we recognized the incredible accomplishment of the $9.2 million raised in the fight against breast cancer!
From the moment the event started on Friday morning, through the very last seconds of the Closing Ceremony on Sunday evening, we were surrounded by love, hope and kindness. There were endless moments of inspiration. And it was a constant reminder of the power of this incredible community.
While we revel in the accomplishments of the 2021 San Diego 3-Day, we can’t help but look towards 2022 when we’ll have the opportunity to come together in New England, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego.
Congratulations and thank you!