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!

Why I Walk: First-Time Walker Emmie J. Spent Her 21st Birthday on the New England 3-Day

To Emmie Jeffcoat, commitment means “doing everything I am capable of to help find a cure.” It also meant spending her 21st birthday as part of “the most heartwarming weekend ever” on the New England 3-Day!

Emmie had heard a lot about the 3-Day from her aunt (Coach Gayla from Dallas/Fort Worth!), but she still didn’t fully know what to expect. She didn’t anticipate being moved in the way she was over her three days in the New England 3-Day Pink Bubble. She decided to walk in 2019 because she hoped to inspire more young people to walk as well, but she’ll be back in 2020 because of the friends (of all ages) that she made during her 60-mile journey.

What began as a birthday celebration turned into a life-changing experience. Emmie is sharing with us just how much the 3-Day affected her, and why she will continue to commit 3 days.

How did you prepare for your 3-Day journey?

I didn’t follow the training guide as well as I should have. However, I did find that just getting used to being on my feet helped me a lot. I also walk 5-10 miles every day on campus just going to class, so I think that helped me, too! Fortunately for me, my campus is full of hills, so I was prepared for the hills on the walk.

Do you have any fundraising advice for first timers?

My best advice with fundraising would be exactly what my aunt told me: ask anyone and everyone! You never know who is going to have a connection to breast cancer or want to donate, so tell everyone about the walk and what it’s about. More than half of the people who donated to my fundraiser were people I had either never met or hadn’t seen in years. Social media played a HUGE part in my fundraising as well. Putting information on social media platforms helped me get my story out to more people.

Tell us about your overall 3-Day experience!

I have so many fond memories of my three-day experience!

  1. I think I laughed harder with my Aunt than I ever have in my entire life. There’s not one specific memory of that, but just 3 days FULL of laughing until I could barely breathe.
  2. I had the honor of meeting a survivor who was walking her 19th 3-day! Just talking to her and hearing her story made me realize the amount of strength these survivors have. I felt honored to be able to walk for them and be a small part of something so amazing. I know I had technically only been around her for three days, but she quickly became a huge role model for me. She was one of the coolest people I have ever met.
  3. GEORGE! He was such a wonderful example of what true love looks like. He is the sweetest/toughest man, and I loved seeing him every day. I wish everyone in the world could meet George.
  4. The Crew! The 3-Day crew was beyond awesome. I honestly don’t know how they manage. They had food, medical, pit stops, etc. Thank you, 3-Day Crew, for showing me how extraordinary the 3-Day is.
  5. The most amazing ceremony Saturday night. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that night is one I will never forget. It opened my eyes to what the walk is really about.
  6. Hearing “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond was also the best. It’s a song that everyone knows, so when it starts playing it’s so much fun to get a big group singing together!

The 3-Day is a big commitment in a variety of ways. What did this commitment mean to you?

I think the word “commitment” holds a whole new meaning now since I completed the walk. Commitment is making the choice to see something all the way through no matter what. Concerning breast cancer, I think commitment is making the decision to fight as hard as you possibly can. I think for families it means fighting with your loved one(s) throughout the entire process and sharing the strength it takes to get through something like that.

What are your plans for next year?

When I signed up for my first walk, I thought it was going to be a one-time thing I got to cross off my bucket list. However, after participating I realized that it is impossible to do just one! I haven’t decided which city yet, but you will definitely see me at another 3-Day in 2020! My goal is to do one 3-Day walk per year. You will also be able to catch me at some cheer stations dressed up and ready to make some walkers smile!

3-Day Ways to Make the Most of a 3-Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend can seem like a bittersweet time because it means that summer is coming to a close. The weather is slowly changing, kids are going back to school…and the 3-Day is on the horizon! After two wonderful weekends in the Midwest in August, we are gearing up for our fall events and getting more excited by the day. With lots of preparing to do, you need to take advantage of every spare minute you have! Here are some simple ways to make the most of this upcoming long weekend, and any spare day you have before you get ready for your 60-mile weekend.

1-2-3 step your way through!

This one should be simple to check off your to do list: go for a walk! You have plenty of time to get team training in, take a solo walk or even grab your family to come with you. You can take a few shorter walks every day or go for a long walk on your extra weekend day. You can also check to see if there are any training walks already organized to join walkers in your area! These are a great way to make friends or grow your own team.

Connect with your teammates

We often share tips for building your 3-Day team, but don’t forget to take time to connect with your teammates once they agree to join you. You’ll have plenty of time to chat over your 60-mile journey or weekend of crewing, but before then, it helps to build a really strong team community. This is a deeply personal endeavor for many people, so organize a group breakfast or afternoon coffee meet-up and start a dialogue. Talk about your 3-Day journeys and remember what brought you all together in the first place. As fall weekends get busy, you’ll be able to look back on this time together and smile.

Fundraise on Facebook

Social media is a simple and low-maintenance approach to fundraising, and you can do it right from the comfort of your couch! Though you can use multiple avenues for fundraising (here are some more ideas!), you should definitely start on Facebook. Did you know that 3-Day participants who have a Facebook Fundraiser, on average, raise $500 more than participants without one? The power of this online fundraiser is a great reason to be active on Facebook!

With just a few clicks from your 3-Day Participant Center, you can set up your Facebook Fundraiser and start inviting all your family and friends today. Then, set up reminders as your 3-Day draws closer. Don’t let people forget!

Catch up on your research!

Since Labor Day weekend is often seen as the unofficial start of the fall season, we know that lots of 3-Dayers will be kicking their preparation into high gear starting in the next few days. To help prepare you for whatever your fall goals might be, we have some awesome blog posts to give you guidance:

We hope you all have an amazing few days planned, and we can’t wait to kick off our fall walks in New England next week!