60 Miles to Forever: Tom and Kasandra’s 3-Day Proposal

On the final day of the Seattle 3-Day last fall, the finish line was abuzz with anticipation. Medical crew members were gathered, a group of friends craned their necks to see that final corner beyond the finish line, and our host Mark was grinning from ear to ear. A proposal was coming!

Tom Riggs had worked with the Seattle 3-Day team to prepare for his proposal to fellow 3-Dayer, Kasandra, at the end of his 60-mile journey, and everyone couldn’t wait to see the culmination of this love story that began with a shared love of the 3-Day!

Tom says being a part of the 3-Day has helped in his relationship with Kas because it has taught him patience, perseverance, and the importance of foot rubs. 😉

“Being the person to bring her food, being a shoulder to lean on and giving lots of encouragement was important to our bond!  I LOVED being the person she could rely upon when her personal heroic acts were finished. Sharing that journey together makes the hard places easier, the great places even more awesome and the accomplishments FANTASTIC!”

After each conquering the 3-Day separately, they are now looking forward to driving a sweep van together in Seattle this year, finally making that 60-mile journey as a married couple. 2019 will also be the year they finalize moving in together, celebrate her son’s and his daughter’s college graduations, and (of course) get married!

The tuxes have been ordered, she said “yes” to a dress, the venue and rings have been selected, and the music is chosen — but there’s still so much to do! But of course, they already know that their accent color will be PINK! Until their wedding, they have super top-secret Valentine’s Day plans this week (sorry Kas, Tom wouldn’t tell us in case you read the blog!), and lots more planning to do for the 3-Day and their big day. It’s going to be a big year!

For the full story of Tom and Kasandra’s love, we let Tom take over. After all, a man in love should tell his own story 😊

When I met Kasandra in the summer of 2017, one of the first things I found out about her was that she was signed up to walk in the 2017 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. That was among the many, many things that endeared her to me! Because I was unable to participate in 2017, I committed to helping her train, raise money and get prepared. Once she was at the starting line, I spent the rest of the weekend supporting her. I knew how much the event takes out of a person physically, emotionally, and mentally, so I wanted to be there for her. I figured I was in a good position to be that friend who would understand.

After committing to the 2018 event in Seattle, Kasandra decided to switch roles with me. She wanted to come to the event to be my supporter and be at as many of the cheering stations as possible. So, when I knew in my soul that I wanted to ask her to marry me, it seemed a natural fit to propose at the 3-Day, as the event has become so important to the two of us.

I sent an e-mail to the 3-Day coaches, asking them for help. Gayla was so sweet (she even sent me a meme!) in responding, pledging support to help me. As I walked on the first day of the event, I told everyone that I was carrying the engagement ring for 60 miles and to look for the proposal at the finish line. I even recruited a friend who is attending the University of Washington to meet us at the finish, so she could use my phone to put the proposal on Facebook Live (I told all our mutual friends on Facebook to be watching!). As news of my proposal got out among the Seattle 3-Day staff (particularly the AMAZING medical crew), everyone got in on the fun to surprise Kasandra!

On the second day of the walk, I pulled my IT band and found that I couldn’t finish the event. It was so frustrating! However, the event staff was so kind in allowing Kasandra and I to take over a sweep van for Sunday. So, as we drove all over Seattle for the day, all I could think about was the proposal. As we parked the van and headed up to the finish line, everyone on the staff was smiling, knowing what was coming. To make everything look official, I even walked (gingerly!) through the finish line. The announcer gave me the microphone and it was time.

Honestly, I had rehearsed what I wanted to say for three days. But when the moment came, I couldn’t think, because all could see was her eyes and all I could think was how much I love her. So, after an initial comment about “going steady,” I dropped to one knee (also gingerly!) and proposed to her in front of the people at the finish line and dozens more on Facebook Live. And she said YES!

We now have planned a June 22nd wedding! Because we’ve recommitted to driving a sweep van for the 2019 3-Day in Seattle, we will have a table at our reception where people can support us our fundraising. We even have a name for our van already – Sweepless in Seattle! – so look for us on the route! And, of course, I’m looking forward to being under the Space Needle again, where I will kiss this amazing woman one year later as my WIFE!

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.