Holding Hands Every Step of the Way: Jenn and Bruce’s 3-Day Love Story

They met at a training walk in July of 2006. They’d both walked in the 3-Day in 2002, but it took four years for fate to bring them together. From there, they joined the same 3-Day team, Viva Las Chicas, and saw each other at meetings, awareness days, and of course, on the event. As their friendship grew and their lives changed, they realized something. They were falling in love. The 3-Day was the beginning of Jenn and Bruce’s love story, but it certainly wasn’t the end.

Now, they’re married! And they still participate in the 3-Day together, both as crew and walkers. Through illness and strength, good times and many miles, the 3-Day has continued to be a huge part of their love story, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

This year for Valentine’s Day, Jenn is sharing how we all can take the 3-Day love into our own relationships. She says, “every day is Valentine’s Day in our house,” which makes her the perfect person to share stories and memories for this holiday.

How have you brought your love story onto the 3-Day?

There have been many small moments and gestures over the years. But by far the most impactful was the result of a health crisis. In March of 2014, Bruce suffered a hemorrhagic stroke after a Tampa 3-Day reunion gathering. We had planned to walk in Dallas that year, but the 3-Day was put on the back burner. His recovery was remarkable. We had the support of so many of our Chica and 3-Day family!

We married the following January, made our return to the 3-Day as part of the Event Support Crew Team in Atlanta in 2015, then embarked on our biggest challenge. We decided to walk the Philadelphia 3-Day in 2016. With the help, love, and generosity of that same 3-Day family, we trained, met our fundraising goals, and landed in Philly to walk with team “A String of Pearls.” Bruce was determined to walk every step. It was his 7th time walking and my 6th time walking. We walked every mile, most of it hand in hand. What we didn’t realize was the impact it was making with the other walkers and crew members around us. We were just being us.

But near the end of Day 1, we met another walker who had been taking our photo from behind. At about Mile 58, we posed for a photo, briefly told our story, and became Instagram famous for about 15 minutes! As we walked into the Closing Ceremony holding hands, the Route Safety Crew asked us to take a photo with them because we’d been holding hands all weekend. The entire experience was more overwhelming than usual, if that’s even possible. I was so incredibly proud of my husband’s determination!

What are some lessons you learned on the 3-Day that apply to your marriage?

Kindness rocks! Couples who wear tutus together stay together. Teamwork, compromise, and sharing ideas is essential. Hugging is appropriate at all times, even while sweaty. Love and accept each other, practice patience, and be grateful for every moment.

What are some tips for couples who want to be involved in the 3-Day together?

Learn to take care of yourself as much you take care your spouse. It’s okay to be on different crew teams, in different sweep vans, or for one to crew while the other walks. You don’t have to follow your partner onto a sweep van, and you also shouldn’t expect your partner to follow you onto a sweep van. Partners give the BEST foot rubs! Have fun! Dance in the street! Hold hands!

What are some of your best 3-Day memories with Bruce?

Bruce being the ultimate walker stalker in 2006! Staying up past lights out and talking in the 3-Day lounge. Teaching Bruce the Cupid Shuffle in the streets of Tampa. Our 3-Day friends surprising us on a training walk to tell us that they’d raised enough money for Bruce to walk in 2016, so he could concentrate on training. Miles 58-60 in Philadelphia 2016. Walking hand in hand together, not just during training, but on the event. There are too many to list!

Tell us some of your favorite love songs.

  • Can’t Help Falling in Love
  • Thinking Out Loud
  • A Thousand Years
  • All of Me
  • When You Say Nothing at All
  • If I Had Million Dollars
  • Love Someone

How would you summarize your love story?

We’re just two ordinary people who found each other because of the 3-Day. And because of our experiences together, we know that time is precious, so it’s not worth wasting on the petty things. We want to be silly, love each other, be there for one another, and enjoy all the time that we have together.

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!

A Daughter’s Love, A Doctor’s Support: Robin Elm’s 3-Day Story

Robin Eggert Elm has been walking the 3-Day since 2002, first with her mom and sister, and now with an ever-growing team. Since that time, she has lost family members, endured hardship, and found a new home in Greensboro, Georgia. She has also made a new friend in her neighbor, Dr. Radha Vemuri, an oncologist who has support her 3-Day journey and many other breast cancer charities and research projects for years. Recently, Dr. Vemuri was diagnosed with brain cancer, prompting Robin to reach out to share his story…and her own…with the 3-Day community.

She says that Dr. Vemuri, or Radha to her, has been a constant source of support for her and her family over the years.

“He’s supported me in my 3-Day walks and he’s shared his commitment with me. He was originally from Kalamazoo, which is about 40 minutes from my parents. In 2017, my mom went in for a chest x-ray as they thought she had pneumonia. Once they began talking about other cancers, I called Radha immediately.”

Robin and her mother (left)

Robin’s mother passed away from meslotheomia in July of that year, after inspiring “dozens of walkers including my sister and me, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, and friends” to join in the 3-Day with her. Robin still walks in her mother’s memory, and with the support of Dr. Vemuri. She shared the story of that journey with us…

And how has Dr. Vemuri supported you and the 3-Day’s mission?

He continually advocates and supports initiatives for breast cancer education.

He says that as a doctor, ‘It is deeply disturbing to me that, in Greene County, more than half the women in the African-American community who are diagnosed with breast cancer will die from breast cancer. The national average for breast cancer mortality is 1-in-5. Our rate is more than twice the national average. That is unacceptable. Through education, screening and getting more women into the healthcare system, we can do much better.’

Radha was also a godsend to our family throughout my mom’s cancer journey. From the early days before her diagnosis through hospice and death, he selflessly gave his time and supported our family.

Why is it so important that people continue to support the 3-Day?

Simply, because we can. I travel all over the country for business. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t have a breast cancer story. As one of my client’s told me, “I was impressed that you walk, but really didn’t understand it all until my daughter did the walk.” It’s not just writing a donation check. It’s making a commitment. It’s seeing, hearing and experiencing why we need to find a cure.

Tell us some of your fondest 3-Day memories with your family!

The memories are really those of a lifetime. It would be impossible to articulate what our support of Susan G. Komen has meant to our family. We receive so much more than we give. Our entire family, not just the walkers, share their Komen stories. My nieces couldn’t wait until they were old enough to do the walk. When my brother’s triplets were three, they had a lemonade stand “for the cure.” Then, years later when one of their hockey teammate’s mother was diagnosed, they told their story and got everyone to paint pink ribbons on their helmets. My niece started bedazzling bras for all the walkers.  Last year, all the guys also had bedazzled bras. My husband likes telling how his came in handy to hold snacks and a small water bottle. I love our family pictures after closing ceremony with a couple dozen family members in matching shirts who cheered us on.

Some other true highlights were:

  • At the 2014 Twin Cities walk, we walked for a while with a family. The grandmother, who had done many walks, was being pushed in a wheelchair by her 15-year old grandson, Austin. She had walked with her other grandchildren and wanted to live long enough to walk with him. […]  One month to the day later, I lost my own son, also named Austin.
  • In 2015 Atlanta, at lunch on Day 3, my mom started talking to a crew member who had dragonfly earrings as dragonflies are an important symbol to our family, representing the cycle of life and death. My mom told her about the loss of my son. Later at Closing Ceremonies, someone tapped my mom on the shoulder. It was the crew member and her husband. She told my mom that each year she finds ‘her person’ but “I hadn’t found my person on this walk until I met you. I want you to have my earrings.” We still have no idea how she found my mom among that massive crowd! My mom kept the earrings on her nightstand. They remained there until she died. Now, my cousin, a survivor, wears them.
  • Finally, at the San Diego 2017 Opening Ceremonies, we looked up and saw a rainbow and just knew my mom was with us.

As a long-time veteran, what are your top fundraising tips for the 3-Day?

Tell your story. I walk in honor of someone different each year and interview them for my fundraising letter. I try to find honorees who’ve been impacted differently.

One year, I walked for my mom’s friend’s daughter. She was 15 and lost her mom. She told me, “I grew up with breast cancer. I had no one to talk to. No one I knew had a mom with breast cancer.”

Another year, I walked for a local woman I never met. She had contacted a local charity for support.  When I interviewed her, she said, “I never thought this would be me. I work. When I got divorced, I was going through treatment and got dropped from my husband’s insurance. I couldn’t pay my medical expenses and my other bills. I want to fight this, so I can support others.”

In 2018, Robin walked in honor of Dr. Vemuri. She will continue to walk as long as she can, fighting for a cure.

Do you have a 3-Day story like Robin? Do you want to show support for someone who has helped you on your 3-Day journey? Share them with us here!