Burt’s Bench: Meet Burt L., 3-Day Walker

There is a bench on Day 3 of the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. It’s a beautiful bench, as far as benches go, with a shiny, smooth steel construction, and elegantly turned legs. It’s seated on a platform of river rocks, overlooking a fountain framed by trees. The hundreds of 3-Dayers who walk by this bench in Curtis Park may think it’s just a bench, but to 23-time participant Burt Lipshie it’s more than just a bench. This bench is the last place he talked to his cousin before she died of breast cancer.

race_3017_photo_48476956

Burt’s cousin Judy is “my dearest, sweetest cousin in the whole world. Breast cancer killed her in 2004.”

It seems like a twist of fate brought Burt to the 3-Day. “A month or so after she died, I’m sitting in my office in New York, and Judy is everywhere. She’s just everywhere. It’s a hard thing to describe.”

Burt sent an email to Judy’s daughters, saying, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m having a Judy day today.” They wrote back and said they were not surprised, because they were, too. Why were they having a “Judy day,” other than dearly missing their mom?

Their answer to him: “We think our mom is proud of us because we just signed up to walk the 3-Day.”

Burt knew immediately that he would support the 3-Day. “I told them that I would donate… and I thought about it for two days. And then, I thought, no. They can’t do this without me. I’m going to do it too.”

Just two days later, Burt was signed up for his first ever 3-Day. “I had to find some way to fight back. This is the most meaningful way to fight back.”

race_3017_photo_48476783

There was just one slight problem – the girls had already named their team “Juju’s Girls.”

“We changed the name to ‘Jujus Girls (And boy).’ We walked San Diego that year and I haven’t stopped. This is walk 23.”

What was this special woman like? Judy was “feisty.” Burt refused to tell her age, joking that he could hear Judy from heaven exclaiming, “Burt! What?! You’re telling my age?” She was the type of woman who was dying of breast cancer, but still taking care of her 91-year-old mother. Judy lived in Dallas most of her life, so Burt had plans to meet Judy at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. But by then, she was too sick to do it.

Towards the very end of the 60-mile route, Burt took a break from walking. “I’m sitting on the bench and I called to see how she was doing, and we talked for about five minutes. An hour later I got the call.”

To Burt, the bench in Curtis Park isn’t just a bench. It’s a tangible memory, a place that marks the devastation of this disease. It’s a place he visits every year before he walks sixty miles in the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, an event that he’s raised more than $208,000 for. It’s a staggering sum that has no doubt helped countless men and women fighting breast cancer. By now, Burt is well-loved by all his fellow walkers and member of the 3-Day Crew. As Burt walks in his neon pink shoes and pink Yankees hat, walkers call out to him, “My man!” slapping high fives and posing for pictures.

burt2

The bench is symbolic to all of us, because many places in the world become like Burt’s bench, marking the last place and time you talked to somebody you love.

When Burt comes to the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day, “It’s the first thing I do. I walk up Turtle Creek and I go up to the bench. And I sit on the bench for a little while, and I cry a little bit. And then I come back.”

Burt comes back because in this fight against breast cancer, you must always come back. You may be angry and grieving and devastated, but you must come back. Because, together, when we return to this fight, we are holding steadfast in our promise that we will never give up. And one day, Burt will sit on his bench and know that thanks to him and the help of people like you, more people like Judy will be saved.

burt-2

2016 Seattle 3-Day – Saturday Award Winners and Honorees

At the end of Day 2 on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, we gather to celebrate: walkers celebrate completing 40 astonishing miles of route, crew members high-five over giving hours upon hours of service to their fellow 3-Dayers, and everyone celebrates each other. Every walker and crew member could be given a medal for their accomplishments, but we do like to take time at the Saturday evening camp show to recognize some stand-out walkers and crew members. In Seattle, we were pleased to award the following outstanding walkers, crew members and teams:

Top Training Walk Leader

img_5755The top training walk leader for the 2016 Seattle 3-Day is Tath Hossfeld. Tath will be a 33-year survivor this November, and has participated in the 3-Day 24 times in the last 13 years (she’ll be doing walk number 25 in Atlanta in a few weeks). She is the captain of the team Flamingo Road, a mentor to other walkers, and a devoted volunteer. Tath has been a training walk leader for the last 10 years and this year, she led 29 walks with 114 attendees. She is meticulous about planning her training walks and goes out of her way to make sure everyone there feels comfortable, supported, and informed while also looking for ways to make them fun for everyone. Tath also won the Local Impact Award in Seattle last year.

Top Youth Corps Fundraiser

img_5502The 3-Day Youth Corps are kids between the ages of 10 and 16 who come out to cheer and support the 3-Day walkers and crew members. They are required to raise a minimum of $500 in order to participate, which makes it all the more extraordinary to share that 15-year-old Lauren Simpson, a first-time Youth Corps member from Danville, CA, raised $1,905 this year. Way to go, Lauren!

Top Crew Fundraiser

img_5719Congratulations to Cathy Youngling, the top crew fundraiser for Seattle, who raised an astonishing $10,040 this year, bringing her lifetime fundraising total to $97,333. Cathy is part of the Pit Stop 2 team, and this year’s Seattle 3-Day is her 11th event in 8 years. She is captain of the team Are We There Yet? in Seattle. Cathy is also a 21-year survivor, and is Grammy to two sweet girls who love to wear pink (not because of breast cancer but because it’s pretty with their sparkly shoes).

Top Individual Walker Fundraiser

img_5734For the third consecutive year, the top individual walker fundraiser in Seattle is Loretta Englishbee, with $26,115 raised this year. Loretta has raised nearly $400,000 alone since starting with the 3-Day 11 years ago. Unfortunately, due to a family emergency, Loretta and her Team Bee teammates were unable to join us at the Seattle event this year; her teammate Michelle and friend Kathy accepted the award on Loretta’s behalf.

Top 5 Fundraising Teams

The top fundraising teams for the 2016 Seattle 3-Day are:

5. Team Bee – $44,606 in 2016; $487,597 lifetime – 7 team members, 11 years as team – Team Captain: Loretta Englishbee
4. Sole Mates – $51,149 in 2016; $244,127 lifetime –17 team members, 7 years as team – Team Captain – Kathy Bressler
3. DHL Dynamos – $72,186 in 2016; $1,583,269 lifetime – 40 team members, 6 years as team –Team Captain: Ann-Kathrin Seit
2. Kindred Spirits – $135,385 in 2016; $2,680,407 lifetime – 79 members 13 years as team – Team Captain: Penny Kellam

img_5708And big congratulations to Valley Girls & Guys, which was both the largest team on the Seattle 3-Day (150 members) and the top fundraising team, with $320,480 raised this year. Valley Girls & Guys, captained by Tina McDonough, has raised $2,398,313 in its 8 years as a Seattle 3-Day team. Wow!

*The 2016 Seattle 3-Day marked another big milestone for the top 3 teams on this list: DHL Dynamos surpassed the $1 million lifetime mark, and both Valley Girls & Guys and Kindred Spirits flew past the $2 million lifetime milestone.

 

Milestone Award and Local Impact Award

 These two other special awards are presented to participants who stand out and shine extra brightly in a sky of very bright 3-Day stars. The Milestone Award is given at each event to one participant who has an extraordinary history of involvement with the 3-Day, and the Local Impact Award recognizes a participant in each 3-Day city who has been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day in their community throughout the year.

img_5749This year’s Seattle 3-Day Milestone Award winner is Randy Gangnes. Randy has been a 3-Day participant for 12 years, and all 12 of her walks have been in Seattle. She is the captain of In The Pink, and in her years as a 3-Day walker, she has personally raised over $67,400. When she’s not out training or fundraising for the 3-Day, Randy teaches first grade, enjoys singing, reading and traveling, and is an avid Seahawks fan and season ticket holder. Her husband Ron—who has also been a Seattle 3-Day walker for 12 years—told us, “Randy is shy and unassuming and will definitely be embarrassed by this attention.” Randy herself is also a breast cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with DCIS in 2003. “Komen is a way of life for us, something our family, still to this day, doesn’t understand completely,” Ron shared. “Randy is the definition of selflessness. She feels that if she can prevent just one person from having to go through what she did, then all the miles she’s walked (probably over 6,000 miles) are worth it.” Merrilyn, a close friend and long-time teammate of Randy’s told us, “Randy is my inspiration for walking in the 3-Day.  I see her passion for the cause, and witness her tireless efforts in fundraising and training, and know that I want to match her enthusiasm with my own. Randy not only walks in the 3-Day, she walks the belief in Susan G. Komen all year long. She is a true ambassador for the 3-Day and everyone who knows her understands that raising money for curing breast cancer is one of her life values. Randy is absolutely deserving of this 3-Day Milestone Award!” We couldn’t agree more!

img_5752We were delighted to recognize Kathy Bressler with the 2016 Seattle 3-Day Local Impact Award. Kathy has been a 3-Day walker and captain of Sole Mates for 8 years, and has personally raised over $30,000 for the 3-Day. Like so many others, her reasons for becoming involved with the 3-Day were deeply personal: both her grandmother and mother died from breast cancer. Kathy’s involvement with the breast cancer cause has been a life-long passion, extending even further than the 3-Day; she has served as board president of Komen Puget Sound for a two-year term while holding her position as President of Franciscan Health System’s Saint Clare Hospital. Her teammate Jennifer shared, “Kathy has always been an advocate for finding a cure for breast cancer for others, never thinking that she would be the 1 in 8.” Yes, Kathy herself was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in late 2015, and not surprisingly, she faced it head-on. “Through her journey she has never taken the role of a victim and she was not going to succumb to this disease. She has spoken often of the advances that have come from funds raised through Susan G. Komen and the 3-Day, but that there is more work to do.” Since her diagnosis, Kathy committing to growing her 3-Day team even more, and this year, they were the fourth highest fundraising team in Seattle. Kathy was the Survivor Speaker in the Friday camp show in Seattle as well.

Kathy’s Sole Mates teammates Maureen and Betsy agreed that an award about impact is perfect for Kathy: “She is a force to be reckoned with on anything she puts her mind to! She prods others into self-improvement, encourages growth and positive change, and if she really believes in you, invites you to hot yoga and to walk with her in the 3-Day!” They continued, “Kathy not only changes lives but she makes you a believer. You get a job, your children go off to college, you learn to plank, you make incredible friendships and you truly believe you can make a difference because you believe in a cause. Because of Kathy, and the impact she has made on the lives of every person she has come in contact with, you believe there will be a cure.” Jennifer echoed the statement about Kathy’s strength. “Kathy fully believes that there will be a cure if we continue to fight for one. She is truly a warrior and I can’t think of anyone who would deserve such an honor more than Kathy.”

Congratulations to the 2015 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Award Winners

It was our privilege to celebrate some of our remarkable Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants with special awards at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day.

Top Fundraisers

The top crew fundraiser in Dallas/Fort Worth was Kathleen Furman, who raised $4,490. She’s crafty with her fundraisers, designing and making her own buttons, stickers and temporary tattoos. Kathleen has been a part of the Komen 3-Day for ten years, this year’s Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day being her fifteenth event. As a crew member this year, she brought her lifetime fundraising grand total to $47,175.

The top fundraising team in Dallas/Fort Worth was Pink Soles in Motion. As the largest team on the event with 77 members led by captain Catrina Gibson, they raised $134, 468. During their ten years as a team, this group has raised an incredible $1,289,616! Wow!

Pink Soles

The top individual fundraiser in Dallas/Fort Worth was Allison Lewis of the Jabber-Walkies team, who raised $21,415 on her own. She’s been friends with two of the women on her team since kindergarten, which makes sense since the team got their distinct name thanks to a grade school P.E. coach who called Allison “Jabberwocky” in the 3rd grade. In two years and two 3-Day events, Allison has raised a total of $37,540.

jabber walkies

Thank you and kudos to our top fundraiser and to the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day community as a whole, who together raised $2.8 million in donations.

Milestone Award

The Milestone Award is given on each 3-Day event to one participant who has an extraordinary history of involvement with the 3-Day. This year, The Milestone Award for Dallas/Fort Worth was presented to Liz Goldman.

Liz first took part in the 3-Day 12 years ago, and this year’s Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day marks her 11th event. Liz’s commitment to the 3-Day is so strong that when Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012 and she was not able to fly out to walk in Dallas, she rearranged everything (flights, family, clean-up efforts at home, etc.) and transferred to the Arizona 3-Day just one week later! In her history with the 3-Day, Liz has raised over $144,622 (she also raised the second highest amount of donations as an individual for the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day this year).

award winner

Outside of the 3-Day, Liz uses her skills as a chef and her love of food volunteering at a local soup kitchen. Not only is she altruistic, but she’s downright brave; on a recent trip to Tuscon for a girls’ weekend at the spa, she challenged herself to walk a tightrope! Liz’s husband, a 3-Day crew member, offered more insight into what an outstanding woman Liz is, saying “Liz is special, for she truly will do anything to help anyone, and in a wonderful way. The reality is that Liz has an unending desire to help people, and the strength and wisdom to do so.  This runs through both major life events and day-to-day life.  This altruism manifests itself for the family and close friends. But it doesn’t end there.  She also wants to help many who she doesn’t even know. ”

Thank you, Liz, for your years of enthusiasm and dedication to the 3-Day. It’s our pleasure to honor you.

Local Impact Award

The Local Impact Award is a new award for 2015, and is being presented to a participant in each 3-Day city who has been instrumental in strengthening the 3-Day in their community throughout the year. Local Impact Award honorees are participants who go above and beyond with things like leading training walks, attending local events, supporting the local 3-Day staff year-round at meet-ups and workshops, and in general, making a difference in their 3-Day community by building lasting relationships and showing commitment to the 3-Day in all they do.

We were pleased to honor walker Ralph Morriss with The Local Impact Award at the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. Over the course of his four years and four 3-Day events, he’s raised a total of $23,327. A fun fact about Ralph: he was voted “Class Favorite” at Lewisville HS in 1954. His friend, Shelley G., shared some of the qualities about Ralph that made him just as lovable then as he is now, “My friend Ralph is the most caring, loving, thoughtful, wonderful person you’ll ever know. He would give you the shirt off his back or definitely some veggies from his garden.” Speaking of veggies, Ralph is an avid gardener who owns a veggie stand on Morriss Road in Flower Mound, so be sure to stop by and try some of his produce! He’ll make sure you know all about the 3-Day while you’re there.

award winner

Besides gardening, Ralph enjoys walking and fundraises every day, which is pretty amazing considering all of the time and energy that takes. His friend Tracey M. had some wonderful things to say about this extraordinary man, “I call Ralph Morriss the Energizer Bunny. There is just no stopping him. Ralph tirelessly works year round training and raising funds for the support of Susan G. Komen® and the 3-Day.  There are plenty of causes Ralph could put his efforts toward, including diabetes, as Ralph was diagnosed in 2009 with Type 1 Diabetes. Yet he chooses to walk with us, for us! Ralph at 80 years of age is so full of life and love. He is so very thoughtful and selfless. I have to say I have never seen my friend with a frown on his face….except maybe when he fears the donations are slowing! As I fight my personal fight, rarely a day goes by without my receiving a quick text from Ralph to just say “Hello, how ya feeling” and maybe a few words of encouragement or inspiration. When I text him back a “Hello, what’s up my buddy?” He says, “Just the 3 W’s. Working, Walking and Wishing”. I then ask, “What are you wishing for?” He says, “A cure for cancer!” Well, I have a wish as well, I wish for everyone fighting this fight to have someone as special and uplifting in their life. Although I am certain Ralph Morriss is one of a kind! Komen and so many of us are lucky to have him on our side!”

Congratulations and thank you to Ralph for his phenomenal commitment to a world free of breast cancer. And, of course, thank you to the entire Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day family for another unbelievable year!