Honoring the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Lifetime Commitment Circle, as told by Burt L. 

In June 2018, we brought together participants who have shown leadership in fundraising and team development with Susan G. Komen’s mission team and Scientific Advisory Board for an inspiring appreciation and mission-focused event at Komen headquarters. We not only celebrate this group of participants, but all of our participants as the 3-Day is forever emblazoned on the wall at Komen headquarters. This wall will be replicated this year on all of our 3-Day events. If you’re a registered 3-Day participant, learn more about the Lifetime Commitment Circle here. We’re thrilled to share more about the Lifetime Commitment Circle experience by fellow Michigan and Dallas/Fort Worth walker, Burt Lipshie (now in his 15th year participating and 28th and 29th events).

What a weekend! Together with some 40 other people from around the country — including two from Alaska — I was flown to Dallas to participate in a “celebration” for those of us 3-Day walkers who have, over their lifetimes, raised more than $100,000 in the fight against breast cancer (one of the Alaskans is the all-time champion, with more than $400,000 raised). It was an unforgettable couple of days.

After checking in to our hotel, we gathered at Komen headquarters for dinner, and a talk by, and with, Komen’s CEO, Paula Schneider. Her focus, despite the strides and advances being made in this struggle, was on how much we still have to accomplish. There are 154,000 women in the United States today living with metastatic breast cancer (and we cannot forget — the widow of one of our lost walkers reminded us — about the number of men, as well). And we saw a film clip of an interview with one of them, a 39-year old mother of two, made last fall, that left us all teary-eyed — even before Paula told us that she lost her fight in March. And she was not alone. We still, again just in the United States, lose 40,000 women (and some 500 men) each year to breast cancer. The bold goal that Komen announced last year is to cut the number of deaths in half by 2026.

Susan G. Komen CEO Paula Schneider

On a lighter note, earlier in the week, one of the group circulated an email asking, “Who’s up for meeting at 5 am in the hotel lobby for a little training walk Friday morning. Seems fitting for this amazing group to walk together.” And, so, some 13 of us got up before dawn on Friday to do about 2 1/2 miles together, talking and laughing, before Friday’s programming. I’ve attached a picture of the group.

Then back to headquarters to spend the morning with Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board. These are some of the top folks in the breast oncology field who, among other things, guide Komen on making research grants. One of the members of the Board is not a doctor of medicine at all. She is a Doctor of Psychology, a therapist, and a 35-year breast cancer survivor. Her role on the Board is to be a patient advocate. Indeed, we learned, there must be a patient advocate on every team that Komen funds.

After our talk with the scientists, we had one of the powerful highlights of the event. The agenda called it simply an “Office Tour.” It was much, much, more. We piled into elevators to go from our large conference room up to the Komen offices. As each elevator door opened, we were greeted by a roar of cheering. All of the Komen employees were lined up on either side of a long hallway, cheering and waving pink pompoms.

And that wonderful moment led to the end of the hall, where, on a long wall, all of our names were inscribed. We all stood and gaped. We cried. We took a million pictures. No one wanted that moment to end.

But, somewhat behind schedule, we needed to go back downstairs, for a meeting with the heads of Komen’s various sections — Public Policy and Advocacy, Community and Network, Health Equity Initiatives, and Education and Patient Support. There are important things being done besides the scientific research.

The advocacy team is working on obtaining more federal funding for breast cancer research through the NIH and CDC. And, a big issue is insurance coverage and access to clinical trials. The various Komen local Affiliates provide more than $23,000,000 in grants each year, dealing with local issues, including the Treatment Assistance Programs. Komen’s recent 3-Day fundraising goal for the Treatment Assistance Program was $500,000. It raised some $650,000.

One of the major focuses going forward is the Health Equity Initiative. The death rate among African-American women diagnosed with breast cancer is 40% higher than white women. The rate of triple negative breast cancer — one of the most aggressive and deadliest — is dramatically higher in the African-American community. Why? Research is being done on whether there is a genetic cause, and if so, how to combat it. But, also, the statistics show that African-American women get diagnosed later, when the risk of death is greater, as is the cost of treatment.

Sadly, by Friday afternoon, the celebration had to end. With promises to each other to keep in touch, the group slowly dispersed. Many back to the airport. Lucky me, since I was down there, I got to spend some quality time with my Texas cousins, who are the reason I got involved with the 3-Day after we lost their mother Judy (my cousin) to breast cancer.

Now I am back. And more energized than ever. We have accomplished so much. There is still so much to do. The monster must be slain.

I hope you all know that I know that while it is my name on the wall at Komen headquarters, the honors belong to all of you who have walked, crewed and supported so many of us. Together we have gotten this far. I know we will not stop now.”

Thank you, Burt, for your vivid and poignant recollection of the honoring of our Lifetime Commitment Circle and for sharing it with the whole 3-Day community. Please join us in honoring and recognizing our Lifetime Commitment Circle members and all of our participants and crew members for their passion, dedication, and commitment to Susan G. Komen. We are proud to work alongside you in our fight to end breast cancer forever. Please visit the 3-Day Lifetime Commitment Circle replica wall while you are on-site at the 3-Day events in 2018.

Why 3-Day Volunteers Matter

We are only a few weeks away from our first 3-Day of the year, and there are still ways to get involved! If you are still looking for ways to join the 3-Day family but can’t commit to walking or crewing all three days or walking 20 miles, we are always looking for volunteers. The 3-Day volunteers help with so many parts of our weekend and support the walkers and crew in immeasurable ways.

Think you might be interested in the 3-Day? Volunteering is the perfect way to get started!

If you need more convincing, here are just some of the ways that our 3-Day volunteers matter so much, coming right from Coach Gina and the other 3-Day Crew & Volunteer Coordinators.

Volunteers are the heart ❤️of the 3-Day.

Volunteers share the load. One person can not make the 3-Day happen on their own and volunteers are constantly collaborating and working together to make More Than Pink magic.

Volunteers are helping hands. You’ll see them taking care of everything from working at pit stops to cheering on the walkers as they cross the finish line!

More hands mean more hearts, and more hearts mean more fun!

Volunteers share a passion and energy to make a difference. They help us in such a huge way as we work towards Komen’s Bold Goal.

Volunteers are that special ingredient that makes the 3-Day a success. You’ll see their work and effect throughout the weekend.

“There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.” James Doolittle said it, and we couldn’t agree more!

Volunteers are ordinary people with extraordinary hearts. Anyone can be a volunteer, so never hesitate to sign up!

Volunteers matter because they are selfless. They make the 3-Day a seamless experience for our walkers and crew.

Because they give without expectation. Who doesn’t love that?

Volunteers are the people you turn to when you need something done. If you need dinner served, or photos taken or help finding your camp mail…the volunteers are there for you!

Because volunteers are people you can count on.

Without volunteers, there would be no 3-Day.

What do you love most about our 3-Day volunteers? Tell us in the comments!

Walking for MeeMaw: Meet Jessa G. from the San Diego 3-Day

I think the thing I love most about the 3-Day is how much the entire event is like one big family reunion. Everyone is so open and easy to talk to. Everyone is there to support everyone else.”

When Jessa G. talks about the 3-Day, she is truly describing a family affair. Her mom, Heather, has been a part of the 3-Day in one way or another since it began in 2001. Heather, and now Jessa alongside her, walk in memory of their MeeMaw (Jessa’s grandmother, and Heather’s mom). MeeMaw lost her fight to breast cancer when Jessa was young, and since then Heather has been a part of the 3-Day family.

(Jessa and her mom)

A few years ago, Jessa also joined the Pink Bubble as a member of the Youth Corps!

“I had finally found a way that I too could join my mom in memory of my MeeMaw!”

Last year was the first year Jessa was old enough to walk the 3-Day…and walk she did! She and a family friend took on those sixty miles with smiles on their faces and determination in their hearts.

Jessa says, “Although I had already been in the background of the walk, helping make sure things went smoothly and happily for all the walkers, I didn’t know how truly challenging it is. Having that walking experience really gave me a new respect for my mom and all the people who walk the 3-Day year after year. Walking in my mom’s footsteps helped me so much. My mom even let me use the same fanny pack that she used in her first 3-Day, 16 years later.”

Jessa’s mom was there to watch her cross her first-ever 3-Day finish line, and they hope to expand their family’s presence in 2018. Both of Jessa’s younger sisters will be on Youth Corps, and her mom will be part of Lunch Crew. Jessa is hoping to make it back from college in time for the event as well, but no matter if she’s walking, or there in spirit, she will have the 3-Day in her heart.

“It’s so important to me to continue to be a part of the 3-Day in any way, because of the amazing work that I’ve seen through the 3-Day do, just over the past few years that I’ve been there. I’ve seen just how it brings people together and creates lifelong friendships of love and support. The pink bubble is something to love and miss when you aren’t there.”

This past year is still fresh in her mind , and she was more than happy to share tips for first-time walkers:

  • Train more on sidewalks and concrete than on trails!
  • She also warns against doing any form of activity before the event that could put yourself at risk for injury.
  • If you need some extra pep in your step, Jessa loves listening to pop artists like Halsey, Ed Sheeran, Avril Lavigne, Bruno Mars, Little Mix, as well as musicals like Hamilton to keep herself motivated during those long training walks.
  • Need fundraising ideas? Jessa says to “ask literally everyone you know! People are more willing to help out than you would think; teachers, friends, doctors, family, everyone.”
  • She also recommends asking people to donate old furniture or clothes and having a garage sale where all the money goes towards breast cancer.

These tips come from an expert, too! Though Jessa has only walked the 3-Day once, she has grown up around a 3-Day veteran — her mom, Heather. Jessa says that her mom has been a life-long motivation, and the epitome of someone who is More Than Pink.

“She was the first one in my family to start doing the 3-Day, and she has consistently been a part of them for so many years! She’s talked with so many of the people on so many different events. I haven’t gone to a single 3-Day where I haven’t been approached by one person or another asking if I’m Heather’s daughter. Everyone I’ve talked to has had just the greatest things to say about how she has helped them through something in their lives, or just been there to talk with them even outside of the 3-Day.”

With role models like Heather and her MeeMaw, Jessa is going to keeping walking and working towards a world without breast cancer.