Meet Team Princess Warriors from the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

African American women in the U.S. are often diagnosed younger and with more aggressive breast cancer than their white counterparts. They are also often diagnosed at later stages when treatments are limited, costly and the prognosis is poor. And they die from breast cancer nearly 40% more than Caucasian women. These facts are staggering, and Susan G. Komen is working daily to reduce disparities to achieve breast health equity.

We are not doing this work alone. We are supported by 3-Dayers like those on Team Princess Warriors from Dallas/ Fort Worth. Sylvia, Yolanda and Felecia have collectively walked in the 3-Day for more than twenty years combined, participating in 3-Days across the country. They are best known in Dallas/Fort Worth and will also be joining us in Chicago this year, but their dedication extends far beyond the bounds of the 3-Day weekend.

They are breast cancer health advocates all year long. They take any opportunity they can to “educate women, especially women of color, and make them aware of how this disease affects African American women.” We are honored to have them in our 3-Day family and are so proud to share their story. Read on for more of their expertise and inspirational stories.

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What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?

Sylvia’s mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at 46 years old. Unfortunately, she passed away from the horrible disease at only 48 years old. Her paternal great grandmother, paternal grandmother, and three of her dad’s sisters have all been diagnosed with breast cancer as well. That’s not to mention that three of her husband’s aunts, two of his cousins and their sister-in-law are also breast cancer survivors.

Yolanda and Felecia both have friends who have been diagnosed and are currently fighting this disease as well as loved ones who have succumbed to breast cancer.

What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?

Our favorite memory was standing in line to take pictures after Day 1 during our second year. We were standing behind John and Lisa Shiner. I immediately recognized him because he was one of the inspirational speakers at camp during Sylvia’s first year walking. His wife and my mom who passed from breast cancer were both named Martha. We laughed and cried and hugged and cried some more. His wife Lisa is such a sweetheart.

After talking with them, they invited us to walk with them the next year in Twin Cities, so we did! We walked together all three days and they invited us over to their beautiful home for dinner. This was just the beginning of our friendship, and we have made so many more like it over the years. 

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What are your top training tips for first-time walkers?

  • Make sure you invest in good socks and shoes.
  • Make sure you wear all clothing before the event to see how everything works for you.
  • Remember, this is a walk not a race.
  • Take time to enjoy the scenery and the wonderful people around you each day on the 3-Day. Listen to their stories, learn more about them, and enjoy each and every minute with your new group of forever friends.
  • Train, train, and TRAIN before the 3-Day.
  • Hydrate and take advantage of the pit stops and lunch.

As a tight team unit, what is your advice to help pass the time on training walks?

We talk about times in the Army. It’s bittersweet reminiscing about friends who have gone on before us and we always talk about the effort to get rid of this disease that impacts so many across all walks of life.

We all love music in general. If we had to pick a favorite song, it would be “Roar” by Katy Perry. The lyrics are suited for any fight you may be going through. Those diagnosed and fighting breast cancer, along with their family and friends, truly get knocked down sometimes, but dust themselves off and keep fighting. It shows the strength and willpower of those going through this journey and those left carrying the torch for family and friends we’ve lost to this disease.

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What does the word “commitment” mean to you?

Commitment is something that we have lived our entire adult lives honoring. We all made commitments collectively, over a combined 78 years, supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States by serving actively in the US Army. It’s definitely something we do not take lightly. 

We have also made a commitment because of our drive and compassion for those who have been affected and are battling breast cancer. As a team, we dedicate our time and resources to a part of something so much greater than ourselves. Although we try to touch many with our cause, even if we only touch a few, it’s worth it.

Especially given how breast cancer impacts the African American community, why is the 3-Day so important?

Understanding that African American women die from breast cancer nearly 40% more than Caucasian women is alarming. Early detection is key. The 3-Day is SO important to us because it gives us another opportunity to educate women, especially women of color, and make them aware of how this disease affects African American women. Speaking from experience, it’s both unfortunate and also a kind of blessing that you’re made aware of this disease when someone you love has been diagnosed. But often it’s too late to fight it.

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We try to do our part and continue to make others aware that breast care is truly important to their health. We are often stopped during the walks and asked, “Why so much pink?” We love it. It gives us another chance to provide information to someone who may be uninformed.

How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?

We are truly walking billboards for breast cancer awareness. We are not only sporting our pink gear during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but all throughout the year. We always reach out to those we encounter, making them aware of our 60-mile journey to save lives. Sylvia hosts events at her home throughout the year and works with the local school to ensure information is provided to the staff during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Walking 60 miles is an accomplishment; we try to use every opportunity to not only fundraise but educate those we meet daily.

What are you most excited about for 2020?

We are always excited about the opportunity to walk 60 miles in 3 days together. It gives our team another chance to spread breast cancer awareness and spend quality time together. We are excited about being in the city of Chicago this year as well! This is always a great opportunity to meet new people, be a part of their trials and triumphs, and provide words of encouragement to those who have gone through this ordeal or for loved ones currently going through it.

Join Team Princess Warriors at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day by registering to join us in 2020 NOW! You can also find more information on how breast cancer affects the African American community, and what Susan G. Komen is doing to help, on our website.

Happy Halloween from the 3-Day Awarewolves

What’s that? Do you hear that howling? Is it Halloween? Or is it…The Awarewolves?!

This amazing team is a staple on the 3-Day, and their costumes keep them Halloween-ready all year long! They walked with us in New England in September, but their 3-Day journey began long before that. It began when Linda Lafragiola was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, when she and her sister Kathi Elliot decided that breast cancer would not beat them.

Linda explains, “Since being diagnosed, I decided to raise awareness about early detection and how important it is. Participating in the 3-Day allows me to share my story and experiences with any and everybody, year-round.”

What began as a promise, and a walk, between two sisters, has now grown to a whole team! That team includes their very own Awarewolf, Kathi’s beautiful Siberian Husky, Nika. Nika joined many of Linda and Kathi’s early training walks and quickly became their mascot.

After one of those such walks, the sisters started sharing possible team names with Kathi’s husband, David and her daughter Paige. They were talking about how everyone on the walks jokingly asks if Nika is a wolf, and right on cue, David began singing “Werewolves of London.” Suddenly, the group was singing “Werewolves in San Diego” instead, in honor of their upcoming walk in California.

From there, they all talked about how their team mission was about awareness and early detection, in honor of Linda’s own early diagnosis. So, David came up with AwareWolves. Paige created the team logo. Kathi coined the tagline, “Don’t be afraid — Early detection saves lives”. Linda found the amazing hot pink wolf ears. But they each came up with their own signature howls! And from there, a team was born.

More of how their story and team began, in Kathi’s own words…

“Linda learned that she had breast cancer in 2011. Fortunately, it was an early diagnosis and the cancer was limited to a small tumor. She underwent surgery that summer, followed by six weeks of radiation.

Mid-way through her treatment a friend asked Linda to join her at the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in San Francisco in June 2012. She thought, ‘60 miles in 3 days…if I can survive breast cancer then I can do that!’

As a sister of someone who is going through something like breast cancer, you try to find ways to be helpful. Driving Linda to radiation appointments was something I could do. When Linda said she was walking, I said, ‘Why not me too?!’ From then on, the drives to radiation became a time to plan fundraisers and future training walks.

Linda’s last radiation appointment was on November 1, 2011 and the next morning, we laced up our sneakers and started training. Several months later, we had logged more than 1,000 miles and raised over $5,000 dollars each – enough for two 3-Day walks. So, we decided to register for the San Diego 3-Day in November 2012, as well.

Clearly walking 60 miles is no small feat, especially factoring in inclement weather and hilly terrain, but any 3-Day participant will tell you that the aches, pains and blisters are worth it.

Linda says her first 3-Day in San Francisco was emotional, inspiring and eye opening. It really hit home.

She told me, ‘I met so many women and men whose lives had been touched by breast cancer. It was mind boggling! It helped me to go from feeling like a victim — saying why did this happen to me? — to actually doing something about it.’

Not long after completing our second 3-Day in San Francisco, Linda and I officially started our team, cleverly named…The AwareWolves.”

But that was only the beginning of so many amazing memories for their team and their sisterhood!

Since then, they have walked in nearly ten 3-Days in different cities, and their team has only grown in number and recognition!

“The AwareWolves pack has grown, just by the people we have met along our journey,” explains Linda. “Some of them are veteran 3-Day walkers and crew members. Some are first-time walkers who have joined us to see what it’s all about. Everyone loves our signature ears and I swear some people have joined just to rock the ears and howl with the pack! 😄 And, we’re ok with that! Our team is made up of people from all over the US and although we walk at different speeds, we know we are there for each other. 💕 We are known for taking our time, enjoying the event and everything that comes with being in the pink bubble.”

Though in the past the Awarewolves have been in that pink bubble for a few Halloween weekend walks, this year Linda will be part of a group costume, which is a Pac-Man theme, instead!

She and Kathi are gearing up to walk in San Diego in November, and even though Halloween might be in the rearview mirror at that point, you can expect some AwareWolves on the San Diego 3-Day trails. Just keep a pink ear perked up for their howl!

The A to Z’s of 3-Day Teambuilding

No one ever walks alone on the 3-Day. Even walkers who start off solo end up being welcomed into new groups and paired with other solo walkers, so they are supported and loved every step of their 60-mile journey. The other, larger reason for that is we have so many amazing 3-Day teams on all our walks. Big or small, teams keep each other moving and motivated all weekend long.

So, if one of your goals for the year is to grow your team, or you’re having trouble getting some long-time walkers to come join you once again, we want to help! Here are our A to Z Tips for building your team, recruiting new team members, and making sure you’re surrounded by all your favorite people on the 3-Day this year.

  • ASK: We are starting off with the obvious one here because it truly can be something people struggle with. You won’t know if someone is interested in joining your team unless you ask them! Don’t be afraid! The worst thing that could happen would be that they say “no.” And then you’re no worse off than when you started.
  • Be a teammate as well as a team leader. Every team needs a captain, but never forget that you’re part of the team too! Take time to focus on your own 3-Day journey so that you can fully enjoy this process.

  • Co-Captains (Lean on them!): Coach Sharyn says that as a Team Captain of her team, “A String of Pearls,” she makes a point of making sure everyone knows who their teammates are. She also introduces her co-captains and leans on them when she is most busy. When everyone knows each other, everyone always has a good source of information and a support system.
  • Delegate: You can’t be expected to do all the teambuilding all on your own! Work with your other teammates, or even ask your local coaches to help find people who might need a team.
  • Encourage bonding between your existing teammates. This will create friendships that are sure to last long past the 3-Day weekend. This will also increase the reach your teambuilding efforts have.
  • Family and friends: They’re the most likely to want to join you on a 60-mile walk so if you haven’t asked them yet, now is the time! Also, remember that just because you’ve asked them in the past, it doesn’t mean their answer is final. It might not have been a good year for them, or they might have been previously unavailable. 2019 could be their year!
  • Go slow: Don’t feel the need to recruit 10 new team members in a single week! It will only leave you frustrated. Take it slow and grow your team as you can.
  • Have a plan: Give yourself small deadlines and tasks that you can easily work into your existing schedule. Making a long-term plan will make it easier to hit your teambuilding deadlines.

  • Include Crew and 20-Mile walkers in your teambuilding efforts, too! Coach Tisho loves recruiting ALL members of the 3-Day family to her teams, so she wants to remind other teambuilders not to forget the Crew and 20-Milers.
  • Just keep at it! It’s all about the follow-up and the reminders. In a busy world, staying in touch with potential teammates will keep the 3-Day top of mind for them.
  • Know the details about the event so you can share with your potential teammates. Talk to your coaches and find out where the ceremonies and camp are as well as any details that are available. It might just spark more interest to get someone registered!
  • Leverage every contact that you have. You never know who might want to join the 3-Day! Your tax accountant could be a breast cancer survivor or maybe your kid’s swim team coach loves long distance walks. Everyone could benefit from a little 3-Day love in their lives ❤️

  • Make teams within a team! If your team gets larger, break your people up so they can focus on what they do best. Have the super fundraisers on call to help other teammates or tap those with big social circles to recruit new team members.
  • Never stop sharing your passion about the 3-Day. It might just be the inspiration someone needs to join you. Coach Gayla swears by passion and enthusiasm to help you achieve all your 3-Day goals 😊
  • Organize happy hours and social events with friends, then talk to them about ways they can be part of the 3-Day. As a 3-Day walker, crew member, 20-mile walker, volunteer, private cheer station, or even as your walker stalker. Even if you don’t add any new team members, you’ll have a fun night out with your pals.

  • Personal connections are great, but you can also take recommendations from other people! Your best friend’s mom might want to walk, or your neighbor’s sister. Expand your reach!
  • Questions are a great way to start a teambuilding meeting! Coach Gina says that for a “welcome meeting” she asks people to give one word that describes their leadership or one word that describes what the 3-Day means to everyone at the meeting.
  • Rock on 🤘 Coach Gayla recommends painting rocks with words like #Commit3Days and The3Day.org and leaving them along trails and sidewalks as you do your next training walk. Add your team name or Facebook group so other walkers can find you! People will see them as they pass by and you might get a new team member you never even knew.

  • Social media is a simple way to stay connected, especially if you have team members in other cities. Create a team Facebook Page (Coach Liz loves this idea) and keep in touch all year long.
  • Training walks are key for making lasting connections. Coach Gayla says that for every training walk you host; you should ask your teammates to bring someone who hasn’t walked the 3-Day before.
  • Understand that “not right now” doesn’t mean “no.” Keep people on your radar for future years or other opportunities to support the 3-Day in the future.
  • Vacations are fun, so make it about that! Reach out to your out-of-town friends and family and invite them to spend a long weekend with you on the 3-Day.

  • “Why” is important! Coach Gina encourages her team captains to find out the reasons why their team joined the 3-Day. What is your “why” for being part of the 3-Day?
  • X-plain your mission and the difference the event has made in your lives and the lives of others. Showing the impact that the 3-Day has not only had on your community, but your own life, will encourage people to join your mission.
  • Yearly Events help make a big difference in your team’s fundraising efforts and are also a rallying cry for new members to join. Coach Sharyn’s team throws a big fundraiser on the four days of the Memorial Day Weekend every year and invites her whole team (now up to 26 people!) to participate if they’re able.
  • Zero to 10 Questions. Coach Liz asks every knew team member to provide a question or two that they want to know about their fellow teammates. Then she starts a chain email so everyone can get to know each other and find common bonds. It’s all about making new friends and expanding your 3-Day family 😊

What are the best ways you’ve found to recruit new team members? Tell us in the comments!