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!

Route Hours, Cabooses, and Sweep Vans, Oh My! Behind the Scenes on the 3-Day Route

If you’ve been out on the 3-Day route before, you’ve likely noticed a bike with a pink flag that follows the line of walkers along the route. The caboose is a 3-Day staff member who rides behind our last walkers to make sure that everyone gets to each pit stop and back to camp in a safe and timely manner. Each year, in our post-event survey we often get questions about route hours, route safety, and sweep vans.

We wanted to take this opportunity to explain why we have some of the route procedures that we do, and also let you know about a change to our sweep vans and busses this year. We had some questions for two of our seasoned cabooses, Coach Gayla of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, and Robin, the 3-Day Crew & Volunteer Operations Manager, to get the inside scoop on why the caboose and our pit stop and route hours are such an important part of keeping our 3-Day family safe on the route.

Coach Gayla poses on the 2016 Michigan 3-Day with football team members who did an awesome job cheering on our walkers.

Is it “bad” if you end up near the caboose?

Of course it’s not bad to be walking near the caboose! We love company, but we don`t want walkers to lag along the route and get behind schedule. If we ride up behind you while you’re walking we’ll let you know that you’re the last walker and how we’re doing on time. If it looks like your pace won’t get you to the next pit stop before it closes, we’ll present you with options: to pick up the pace (we know this isn’t always possible) or to get in the next sweep van once it arrives. They will gladly give you a lift to the next pit stop so you can rest, refuel and rehydrate before the stop closes.

Have no fear if the caboose is near! Photo graciously provided by walker Robin Collison.

Why do pit stops close at a specific time?

We are required by the city to set up pit stops along the route during certain times of the day. We are not allowed to have them open 24 hours a day for all three days or even the 8-12 hours it takes you to walk the route. So we need to make sure that the walkers move along the route at a comfortable, but continuous pace, so that no one is on the route after dark, or after the pit stops have packed up and left or even after the police and route safety are scheduled to be done for the day. We also want to respect the time of the crew members out on the route so that they can get back to camp to enjoy dinner and festivities, too. You may not know it, but they’ve been out at that pit stop for hours before you came through, setting up and getting ready.

Our amazing crew members need breaks, too!

Why does the route open and close at specific, set times?

The route opens after sunrise and closes before sundown so that the walkers and crew will not be on the route in the dark. These times will vary from city to city, as daylight hours vary during the year. And there are other factors, like in Twin Cities on day one, the route is short so we close the route early, to keep the pace consistent across all three days. In San Diego, we keep the route open after sunset from the last pit stop into camp because it is partially lighted and we hand out flashlights.

A beautiful and balmy morning greets San Diego walkers as they leave camp for Day 2 of the 2016 3-Day.

I don’t like feeling rushed on the route. Can’t we just walk at our own pace and arrive when we want to?

I know it’s no fun to feel like you’re being tailed, but there’s a reason we keep the walkers on a schedule. We ask walkers to average a pace of 3 miles an hour in order to complete each day’s route before dark. In addition to safety reasons, remember, it’s not just you out there―from Pit Stop crew, Route Safety, local police, to Sweep and Route Marking, the volunteers are out there supporting you. We want to respect their time and energy and allow them to get back to camp to enjoy dinner and the festivities, and start again bright and early the next day.

Robin smiles with some of our energetic route support cheerleaders!

I worry that if I take a sweep van, it means I didn’t really “do” all 60 miles. What do you think?

While we know the most important thing is the funds we raise, we totally understand it can be disappointing to you personally if you don’t walk all 60 miles you set out to do. For your own safety, you may need to catch a lift on a sweep van for just a bit here and there, and then get back on the route and walk what you can. We want you to walk in to camp and the Closing Ceremony to experience the joy of the event, so don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion or injury. Your overall event experience will be far less enjoyable if you do.

We’ve also got a helpful hint for you! New this year: the Lunch and Camp Shuttles will be passenger vans instead of busses. If you can’t walk anymore and you’re done for the day, make your way to a pit stop, then catch a Shuttle van to lunch or camp. In the past these shuttles were large busses that used to wait at each route stop until the stop closed. Rather than waiting at each stop until it closes, the Shuttle vans will now leave each stop on a regular schedule. This will allow you to move forward to lunch or camp and keep moving forward more quickly.

There’s no shame in letting us sweep you off your feet.

We hope that helps clear up any questions about why we enforce our route and pit stop hours, and why the caboose and sweep vans are here to help. But if you do have any more questions, ask them below, and we’ll have our friendly coaches reach out to you with a response. Your safety is our number one priority―and we know that working together for a safe and incredible experience means we’re 60 miles closer to ending breast cancer forever.

Let Sweep Vans Sweep You Off Your Feet on the 3-Day

When I first heard about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, one of my first thoughts was, “Twenty miles each day for three days? Could I really do that?” Thankfully, the people around me who knew and loved the Komen 3-Day immediately reassured me that if at any point I couldn’t walk, there was a solution: sweep vans! Hearing this term, I couldn’t help but think of vans with giant brooms attached to them, like Zambonis for suburban roads. Thankfully, I quickly learned about what sweep vans really are, and with that, I signed myself up for the 2014 San Diego 3-Day® and dove wholeheartedly into fundraising and training. On Day 1, I was thrilled to have made it to about mile 13 with no ailments. However, shortly after lunch, I developed a blister the size of a quarter between my toes. Ouch! The kind folks on the medical crew fixed me up, and I hobbled on. Then, at mile 16, I took a step and felt a searing pain as the blister popped. I took a few more tentative steps, but decided I needed to wrap it up for the day. So I hopped in a sweep van for the first time, and was instantly delighted to be in a mustache-themed rolling relief station, complete with disco music blaring and two incredibly kind ladies who brought me to the final pit stop.

Besides the great music, smooth ride, and the chance to rest and relax my aching foot, I got to meet several 3-Dayers – some brand new, some veterans on their 15th walk. I loved hearing their stories about why they did the 3-Day, and in just a few miles of that ride we bonded over the reasons, both heartbreaking and inspiring, that we were all in San Diego that weekend. Though the circumstances that had brought us to walk were sometimes tragic, what was empowering was knowing we were all in it together, fighting breast cancer with our footsteps. No blister, leg cramp, or exhaustion could take away our desire to keep up the fight. And without the shared experience of being “swept” in San Diego, I may have never heard those stories or made those lasting connections. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Last week on Facebook, we asked people for their experience with 3-Day sweep vans. As usual, the stories from our 3-Day community made us smile. Your experiences, while diverse, always pointed back to one overarching theme: What an amazing community the 3-Day is to be a part of. Please enjoy a few stories of the sweep life, and to read through them all, visit this post on Facebook.

“Our very first 3 day, we had to be swept at the end of day 2. We were all so upset and very emotional about it. The ladies that picked us up were so wonderful and reminded us how far we had come and that we had no reason to be upset. The 2nd time we walked the whole thing without being swept but still love the encouragement they give while driving by!” – Sarah

“In January of 2005, at age 32, I completed my treatment and reconstruction from my breast cancer diagnosis. To celebrate my journey, I wanted to walk in the Arizona Susan G. Komen 3-Day. I signed up & one week later found out I was pregnant w my due date being 3 weeks after the walk! Nothing was going to stop me, I was determined to walk despite being 36 weeks pregnant. However there was something that did stop me on Day 1; CONTRACTIONS!! But thanks to the sweep van, I made it through Day 1 & the rest of the weekend! I am an 11 year survivor & my son is 9! THANK YOU SWEEP VAN!” – Bonny

“I went into last year knowing that I would have to sweep. I have bad hips. It was the best experience that I’ve had in the three days journey ever. The crew is unbelievable and is so nice. I went into year for last year knowing that I would have to sweep. It was the best experience that I’ve had in a 3-Day journey ever. The crew is unbelievable. A week after the 3-Day last year I had my second hip replacement, my left hip. This year I walk with two replaced hips. I can’t wait for the journey but I can tell you this I will probably sleep because it’s so much fun. Love you guys, thanks for all of your support!” -Sue

And here’s a little perspective from one of your friendly crew members on driving a sweep van:

“Being on the sweep van crew is all about having a servant heart! We truly love the walkers and we know encouragement along the way is just as important as providing a ride! We know there are walkers that hate the idea of sweeping and we get it. We won’t make you ride if you don’t want to, but we can’t guarantee we won’t circle back around and check on you repeatedly!” – Carrie

Have you ever ridden in a 3-Day sweep van? What was your experience like? As we enter 3-Day season, we want to remind you that there is no shame in taking a sweep van at any point during your 60-mile journey. Whether you’re a resistant passenger or a willing rider, the sweep van gets you closer to the goal that we all share: a world without breast cancer.