“Everyone recognizes the Backpack Guy,” mentions a pink-clad walker in the darkness of the Seattle Center. “He’s been doing this forever, and we even saw him in Tampa Bay last year!” The pink boas, the tutus, the extraordinary amount of pink necklaces that would make a rapper proud are the norm out here on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. It’s usually also safe to say that most participants are either directly or indirectly affected by breast cancer, and it is common to find man cancer survivors and even those in treatment out braving the elements and pushing their physical limits for the cause.
William K from Redmond, Washington, had no ties.
In his 9th year of walking the Seattle 3-Day, he has donned a pink kilt (a ‘Utilikit’), some seriously sturdy leather boots, and an unmistakeable backpack. Not a small bag on his back or a fanny pack, mind you, but a full backpacking-style backpack. “It slows me down,” William mentioned in the pink light of the Opening Ceremony, with the Space Needle in the background. That and the large wrist weights that look like a superhero’s outfit. “Oh yes, the wrist weights,” adds William, noticing that I am staring at them. “They really help make your hands feel better.” That would make sense, since a lot of walkers notice the swollen hands that develop from swinging back and forth for 60 miles. After a good look at him, he appears something like a Scottish soldier with a serious penchant for pink. The overwhelmingly female crowd loves him, though, and he has become a staple to the annual event in Seattle.
“I’m a systems engineer in Redmond, but when I started, I had no connection to breast cancer. It was just a lot of fun,” says William between ‘hellos’ to people who recognize him as they pass. “Since I started though, I’ve had my mom and a sister diagnosed with breast cancer, so now it’s become very relevant.”
As a male with no initial connection to breast cancer, William still encourages other men and women to become involved, even if they don’t know someone directly. “I never worried about wearing the pink of the 3-Day, and it’s really easy to get involved! I would advise people to stand out, have fun, and make a strong statement!” Go William! He and 1,100 walkers and 300 crew members will wrap up the 60-mile route today that has raised $2.9 million to help end breast cancer!