Focusing on Spreading Positivity with Survivor and 3-Dayer, Elaine

When I walked across the finish line, and my son wrapped me up in a hug and whispered, “I’m so proud of you Mom,” that went straight from my ear to my heart.

If you walked the 3-Day in Seattle or Atlanta this year, you likely saw Elaine. Or heard her! She’s a solo walker known for her constant smile and jingling outfits that signal her presence even before you see her coming.

This year marked her 9th and 10th 3-Days respectively, and her first year really highlighting her survivor story as part of our partnership with Mohawk Flooring. She says that recognition was never really something she looked for, and as a solo walker, not something she always got. She flew under the radar and made her 3-Day connections in the smaller moments. This year changed that for her.

“To have Mark say ‘Hi!’ to me by name in the morning, or to see the photographer on the route, I feel like the arms have truly been opened to me and I have been fully welcomed into the fold. And I have felt that support and recognition so much this year. I’ve been able to share my story and my message this year in a different way, even after doing this for 8 years. The arms have been opened wide. It’s a beautiful thing and a beautiful welcome.”

The 3-Day family first welcomed Elaine eight years ago, when she walked her first 3-Day while in the middle of radiation. She had already signed up for the 3-Day before her diagnosis and had even sent out more than 100 fundraising letters! She knew she knew she had reached her fundraising goals and felt that she could meet her physical goals as well. Her doctor gave her approval to walk and told her to listen to her body. So, she did. And she walked every one of those 60 miles.

Along the way, she had her first welcome from the 3-Day Pink Bubble.

“I met two Crew ladies on my first walk in Seattle. I was nervous about wearing a survivor shirt and they just enveloped me in this hug. And I was bawling, and they just kept telling me that I could do this. And to be held by them, and feel that support, was everything to me.”

She has continued to have similar memories and stories over the last decade, making new friends each year and finding new strength with every step.

“Whatever you believe in, it’s a comfort to know that there’s a plan. And it’s tough to think, “How could this be part of a plan?” But meeting those ladies on my first 3-Day, or talking to women in Atlanta this year, it just shows me that these things are meant to be this way.

I’m a pretty positive person, and I try to focus on that positive outcome. So, this has been my way to do my part.”

She also does her part year-round, fundraising all year and encouraging those around her to learn about their breast health.

“I want to shake strangers and remind people to go get their mammograms! Just go do it! Early detection is everything. I talk to everybody, whether it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month or not.”

She finished her 10th walk during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year, and her son was there to welcome her across the finish line. Though her journey has been long and difficult, she says being a survivor has helped her find more compassion for herself daily, and that the 3-Day has shown her the worth that she brings to the world time and time again.

“It is so much more filled with compassion for me, and for anyone else who has this diagnosis. I can be so much nicer to myself, and the 3-Day helped me with that.

The universe draws us to where we need to be. The universe drew me here to the 3-Day.”

2018 Seattle 3-Day Wrap Up

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Friday dawned with a bit of liquid sunshine to kick off our first West Coast 3-Day of 2018! As the sun rose over the Seattle Space Needle, our walkers and crew raised their arms to honor survivors, those living with metastatic breast cancer, and those who they would carry in their hearts on this 60-mile journey. It was an inspirational and motivational start to Day One of the Seattle 3-Day!

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From there, our walkers braved the elements with smiles on their faces as they took on the first few miles. They crossed through Rogers Playfield after 2.3 miles for Pit 1 and by the time they arrived at lunch at downtown Bellevue Park, the rain had cleared.

Then, the sun came out just in time for lunch, and the walkers rejoiced! Laying in the sun on their Mohawk mats was the perfect way to enjoy lunch. We also met our Seattle Youth Corps in a Facebook Live! From there, they walked through Bellevue and Redmond before arriving back home at camp at Marymoor Park. The fall night finished crisp and clear as our last walker came home to camp.

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Our camp show on Friday night featured memories from some of our walkers, a message from Susan G. Komen’s CEO and awarding our Seattle Milestone and Local Impact Award winners. After that, participants returned to their tents for a much-needed good night sleep.

Day Two started from camp and the walkers went through Grass Lawn Park at Pit One after 3.1 miles. The scenery was beautiful, and our walkers made quick work of the next few miles before arriving at lunch at Juanita Beach Park. There was dancing, relaxing, and lots of fun!

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In the afternoon on Day Two there were lots of cheering stations and community support as walkers went through the Kirkland and Redmond neighborhoods. Walkers loved taking photos with the Seattle “Angel,” the Lil’ Smokies Guys and the Parrotheads of Puget Sound. The Youth Corps was also running around, spreading laughter wherever they went!

Our final walker came into camp, welcomed by a crowd, on Friends & Family night to end Day Two! Walkers relaxed in the Bank of America massage chairs and dug into mac n’ cheese for dinner – two long-time 3-Day favorite traditions. Our Saturday camp was full of emotions, as we heard from a local survivor speaker and our Seattle Youth Corps, who all described why they participate in the 3-Day and how it has changed their lives. We ended on a high note with a camp dance party!

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And then, suddenly, it was already Day Three! Walkers were bused to start their day on the beautiful University of Washington campus before walking through downtown Seattle parks and trails. They arrived at Pit Stop 2, and Gasworks Park, after taking on 7.1 miles already. The sun came out for Pit 2, and walkers were able to get a lot of great photos and memories along the waterfront before continuing their journey.

From there, we continued along the water and into the heart of downtown Seattle, stopping for lunch at Lake Union Park. The Olympic Sculpture Park was another great photo spot at Mile 12.6 on the day, before everyone came home and crossed the finish line at Seattle Center.

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In view of the famous Seattle Space Needle, we had not one but TWO marriage proposals (and enthusiastic “yes”-es!) at our Participant Finish Area. Then, Grandma Ruby led five generations of women in her family across the finish line as our final walker. The 2018 Seattle 3-Day journey was complete!

We then led a triumphant group of walkers, crew, volunteers and supporters into our Closing Ceremony. The local Puget Sound Affiliate helped us thank Seattle for helping us raise $1 million this weekend in the fight against breast cancer. Then, there was only one thing left to do…dance it out! Thank you, Seattle, for an amazing 3 days!

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Congratulations to the 2018 Seattle 3-Day Milestone Award Winner, Nancy Schulman

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Please join us in congratulating our 2018 Seattle Milestone Award Winner; Nancy Schulman! 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 Seattle 3-Day camp show, we presented Nancy with this special honor.

We learned just how much the 3-Day means to Nancy when we spoke directly to her…

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

My sister, Susan, invited me to walk the 3-day with her in 2006. She had walked for the first time the previous year and had described the experience as ‘the world as she wished it could be every day’ – full of kindness, compassion and everyone looking out for each other. That really resonated. I had recently lost a close friend to this disease. Gail was 30 when diagnosed (her newborn wouldn’t nurse on the breast that had cancer). She had no family history of this disease and was 43 years young when she died.

So when my sister asked me to join her, I was motivated to walk in memory of my friend Gail, and in gratitude of my own health as my 50th birthday approached. From that very first year, my sisters, Ellie and Joni, along with my husband, Joel, and son, Logan, were incredible Walker Stalkers along the route – encouraging and cheering on the sea of pink.  Other family members join in each year when they can.  Team White Butterflies had begun.

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What has brought you back year after year?

Seattle will be my 13th walk. Many things have kept me coming back to the pink bubble for the past 12 years, including: the caring community of walkers, crew, safety, medical, and staff – all working together to end breast cancers’ devastation; my son, who at the age of 6 challenged me to keep walking until he was old enough to walk with me (I did and 2018 will mark his third year as a walker); the diagnoses a few years ago of a cherished childhood friend and, last year, my beloved sister-in- law; the 4th/5th grade Junior White Butterflies our team has inspired; the butterfly wings that I wear at every walk, made by my sister Ellie, that carry the names of my donors and their loved ones; the firsthand knowledge that the money I help raise is making a difference – and the opportunity to see my fantastic husband in a pink wig and tutu!

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

I don’t have any secrets to fundraising – I just ask. I ask anyone and everyone. And then I ask again. But that’s now – my first year I was incredibly intimidated by the idea of asking people for money. But to my surprise, I was able to raise more than the minimum.

My donors wanted to support finding a cure and shared stories about their families, friends or coworkers affected by breast cancer. So, the next year, I felt bolder and my reach widened. And, now I am admittedly greedy for this cause. It’s not personal if someone doesn’t make a donation. I also accept words of encouragement and a wave if they see me training around town. But if you don’t ask, it will always be a no.

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While I have been known to stand outside a grocery with a donation box, and post fliers around town, I do most of my fundraising by email. After my initial letter, usually in late spring, I send out short training updates about once a month, a little more frequently as the date approaches. The updates are key because with each one, my donations spike. We all need reminders. And, I follow up with genuinely grateful thank yous.  After the event, I send out a final thank you and recap.

I also wear my 3-Day shirts often and wear my White Butterflies team pin daily. If anyone comments on my pin or my shirt, they are rewarded with a smile and one of my 3Day business cards. By the way, the pins will be sold in Seattle for $10 along with cool knitted nipple hats made by a close friend. See, I told you I was greedy!

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

My best advice is to make the effort to meet and talk to your fellow 3-Dayers. Listen to their stories. Share yours. Laugh, cry, sing, dance. Have fun. It’s not a race, so enjoy the journey. It’s a journey of hope and inspiration through some pretty incredible cityscapes. You will make amazing friends along the way that I guarantee you will take with you when the 3-Day is over. Oh yeah, also train beforehand and stretch often on route. I change socks and underwear at lunch. (Doesn’t last long, but you sure feel refreshed!)

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What is a fun fact about you?

I love to read, listen to audiobooks and narrated books on tape to the blind for over a decade. I love it!

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

A single step will bring you closer to your goal, so keep moving forward with perseverance and determination. You can’t always tell when your actions, kind word or helping hand will inspire or change a life.  So be there – show up – and spread kindness.  I can’t change the pain of those words, “You have breast cancer,”  but I know I am helping to make detection more accessible and treatment more tolerable and successful by raising money for, and walking in, the Susan G Komen 3-Day.  That is why I can’t walk away.