Meet Northern Nippys, Twin Cities 3-Day Team

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Twin Cities 3-Dayers take their walking and training seriously all year long, even in the dead of winter temperatures. Minnesota’s freezing temperatures bring teams together early in their 3-Day journey, whether that team is two people or 32 strong. One team, The Northern Nippys, has been both a duo and an army of more than 30 people, and through the years they have become a Twin Cities 3-Day staple thanks to creative fundraising and boundless recruitment energy.

This year, the Nippys, led by Team Captain Laura Lamson, are aiming to raise $100,000 as a team of at least 40 people, and already have 39 team members behind that goal.

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“I’d always dreamed of a big team! And then a friend of mine signed up and she said, “If we have ten, then we should go for 15!” And I said, “Why don’t we go for 20?” Lamson explained.

“It turned into such a positive peer pressure situation from there and escalated up, and that was the year we had 32 people. It was just amazing! A lot more work, but a lot more fun came with it. After that the numbers changed, but this year is my 10th year walking and my friend’s 10th year as a survivor, so we have vowed to raise $100,000.”

Such a bold goal means recruiting new team members, hosting many group meetings for support, and a whole lot of fundraising.

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Recruiting was the easy part for Lamson, who welcomes anyone and everyone onto the Nippys. A few team members signed up immediately after the 2016 3-Day finished, and more soon followed thanks to word-of-mouth through various friend groups, and social media promotion.

A good support system is key for any team, especially one with lots of new members, and the Nippys have it in spades.

“We have team meet and greets to make it fun! I make a video from all of last year’s photos to give them a feel for the 3-Day and make them comfortable right from the start,” Lamson says. “Then, we talk about why you’re walking and who we’re walking for, and just keep it positive! We do ongoing team meetings and brain storming, and see what we can do for fundraising and support. We also have our team Facebook page for people to ask questions, and share ideas or tips from past walks.”

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For veteran walkers like Lamson and a few of the other team members, that means sharing everything from their packing list to their fundraising letters.

Even with a large team, fundraising can be a daunting task, especially for new walkers with a big goal.

“So many of my walkers are intimidated by [fundraising] but I tell them that on average you need about 50 people to donate.”

Getting those donations just depends on what each walker is comfortable with. Lamson has developed a list of more than 500 people she mails letters to each year, and continually reminds new teammates that “it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

The team also runs one fundraiser with a local restaurant and another with a local bowling alley, distributing the proceeds throughout team members who need an extra boost towards their goal. In the past, the team has also done garage sales, dog washes and more.

“Every little thing we do brings fun and brings us together. The more we do, the more it makes us unified as a family.”

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This feeling of family culminates every year on the 3-Day itself.

“You are just in this happy little mode no matter what happens,” Lamson recounts. “It’s how we all wish the world would be. It’s just the kindness and generosity that comes out in everyone, and you feel like a family. The more years I walked, the more I knew how important this was. One in eight women are affected and I’ve got to walk for them! You get on the 3-Day high and it’s too fun to walk away from the little 3-Day bubble.”

So every year, the Northern Nippys come back for more of that family love from their team, and their whole Twin Cities community. This year they have a big goal to achieve, but luckily, they also have each other to help them on their journey.

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The Twin Cities 3-Day Wrapup

The dedicated Susan G. Komen 3-Day® family of the Twin Cities put on an extraordinary event this year, beginning with a gorgeous sunrise over the Opening Ceremony and high spirits as participants moved from Edina into Minneapolis, passing by the scenic Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. The crews did a fantastic job, and their themed Pit Stops were awesome. A solid 1980s theme at lunch, complete with cutouts of celebrities of the time period, rejuvenated everyone to push through the 20.4-mile route. Diners were rewarded with entertainment, great games at the Camp Show by Bank of America and New Balance, and a stirring speech by John Shinar, who is walking all 14 events this year.

Day 2 proved to be a bit more challenging, as most walkers agree, that “Day 2 is the most difficult!” Newly formed blisters and sometimes old hot spots pop up on Day 2, and the extra length at 22.3 miles added to an arduous journey through the suburbs of Maplewood, Roseville, Shoreview and Vadnais Heights. Fortunately a strong and supportive crew both on the route and back at camp helped to make it possible. The famous couch continued to make its appearance along the route. The drumline and the post-lunch cheering stations were only some of the excellent roadside entertainment options on Saturday. What better way to celebrate the end of 40 miles and Day 2 than with the Satin Dolls and some dinner before hearing the stories of breast cancer survivors and involvement of the Youth Corps?

Most cities in the continental United States heat up at some point during the summer, and this weekend, temperatures climbed to dangerous levels on Sunday, and the starting point in the morning was made from the planned lunch stop. Thank you for being so accommodating! The shortened final day made for hot and humid, but taxing walk into the Participant Finish Area, on the beautiful lawns in front of the State Capitol. We all extend a special thanks to friends and family who made the Closing Ceremony even more special. Overlooking the hundreds of walkers and crew who made the Twin Cities 3-Day spectacular, flag bearers and breast cancer survivors alike could view the sea of support from so many who make this vibrant 3-Day® family in the Twin Cities so special.

Join us in the beautiful Twin Cities in 2014!

MORE PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE TWIN CITIES 3-DAY

A Stormtrooper with a Cause

Kevin D assembles his walking gear on the Twin Cities 3-Day, dressing as a Stormtrooper from Star Wars on his fight to end breast cancer.

Kevin D. assembles his walking gear on the Twin Cities 3-Day

“I’m Eileen’s husband,” says Kevin this morning as he assembled his walking gear before sunrise. “Oh, and I’m a Stormtrooper,” he adds in a nonchalant way. It’s true. I had noticed him stride out of the Opening Ceremony two days ago in his full Star Wars gear, highlighted with a pink and white armband with a dedication to his wife. At first I thought the highly recognizable Star Wars costume was simply another fun way to walk the 60-mile route, but this was a dedication to Eileen who passed away in November 2012. They had met through the 501st, an international Star Wars organization, and both had matching Stormtrooper costumes and often worked with charities to brighten the mood and raise much needed funds.

Kevin D emerges from his pink tent to walk Day 3 of the Twin Cities 3-Day in honor of his wife

Kevin D. emerges from his pink tent to walk Day 3 of the Twin Cities 3-Day in honor of his wife

“We actually met for the first time in 2006, but she didn’t know who it was because I was in a Star Wars costume!” laughed Kevin. “We met officially one year later.” He flashed the photograph of him–very unrecognizable–in one of the variations of the costumes with Eileen smiling beside him, an arm wrapped around the white hardened plastic, unknowing that this would be her future husband. “I proposed to her in a friend’s Darth Vader’s suit!” He also confirmed that with a picture. (He did take off the mask to propose.) The memories, however, brought back tears, and Kevin stood in a field of disassembled pink tents remembering the legacy of his wife.

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Kevin D. embraces a neighboring walker at camp on the Twin Cities 3-Day as they remember his wife Eileen

“Eileen started walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® many years ago,” explained Kevin. “She has an aunt who is a breast cancer survivor, and she became a strong supporter of the Komen 3-Day over the past several years. This is my first 3-Day, and I’m doing this in her honor. I want to continue to do more around the country.” As we talked, a participant who had been tenting nearby exclaimed that she had known Eileen, and the two embraced remembering this extraordinary woman. The 3-Day offers much more than an opportunity to help others by raising money for breast cancer research; it offers the chance to heal, and we see this over and over as participants who have lost friends, family, wives, husbands, mothers, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers pick up a flag, a banner, a symbol of their loved one and step out onto the street to honor a wonderful life.

Good luck to the Twin Cities 3-Day walkers today in the heat and through the Closing Ceremony!

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Kevin’s armband dedicates his walk to his wife

Kevin as a stormtrooper moves out onto the route after the Opening Ceremony on the Twin Cities 3-Day, to the delight of children and adults on the route breast cancer

Kevin as a stormtrooper moves out onto the route after the Opening Ceremony on the Twin Cities 3-Day, to the delight of children and adults on the route