Julie Copaken’s Fundraising Milestone: $250,000 Raised

“What if it’s the $10,000 I raise this year that helps fund the grant that moves us that much closer to a cure? I can’t let myself stop!”

We’d like to introduce you to the latest member of the Impact level of our Lifetime Commitment Circle. This exclusive honor is bestowed on those who have reached an incredible fundraising milestone—raising $250,000 for the 3-Day. And she’s raised even more for other cancer organizations! We asked Julie to answer a few questions so we could learn more about how she achieved her fundraising success.

How did you get involved with the 3-Day?  
It all started in 2005 when I was an associate brand manager on the MOTRIN® IB Brand, which was a national sponsor of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. I was asked as a sponsor to speak at the Philadelphia event that year, and I didn’t want to do so unless I was out there raising money and walking alongside the people to whom I’d be speaking.

And once I started fundraising, I learned just how many people have been impacted by breast cancer—my friend’s mom, another friend’s aunt, my colleague, and more—and it became important to me that I continue to do my part. Since that time, I lost my father to pancreatic cancer (2008) and my close friend, Mary, to breast cancer (2009), Vicki, my former colleague and current friend, lost her sister, Betsy. My dear friend, Libby, who I met during the Opening Ceremonies years ago and then walked with every year since, lost her mom. And I met Maryanne—an amazing friend and breast cancer survivor. It’s a lot! So, each year since 2005 I’ve walked and raised money. I walk honoring the memory of my friend, supporting the brave, triumphant battles of other friends, and honoring the memories, current battles, and success stories of friends and colleagues’ parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, and my friends and colleagues.

We all know raising money during a global pandemic isn’t easy, but how did you do it?
I’m lucky that after 16 years I have a loyal group of supporters! I raise money through email campaigns year-round and Facebook posts. This year I was sure to include language around it being a tough year with so many important efforts to support, and I know that others’ charitable giving priorities may not coincide with mine, and that’s OK. So, I give people an out. But for the most part, people have been willing to give year after year, including during a global pandemic.

What is your secret to raising so much money every year?
I ask EVERYONE I know. Friends, friends of friends, colleagues, ex-boyfriends, family, etc. I’m lucky that my sisters and some friends will share my Facebook posts with THEIR friends. I send initial requests, friendly reminders to “bring the email back up to the top of your inbox for those of you who like me got busy and the email got buried.” I let people know when I’m close to my goal(s), and I know some people like a deadline, so I send out a “3 days until the 3-Day” message at the very end. I always make my emails some combination of personal/touching and/or funny. Lastly, I make sure to send thank you’s, and some of my larger donors get more personalized emails.

What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?
I just love the pink bubble! I’ve met so many people over the 16 years, and it’s just like a big pink family. And, I love the quality time with my teammates. Also, once you’ve started raising money, I start to think I can’t stop now! If I don’t ask, who will garner this support from MY network? What if it’s the $10,000 I raise this year that helps fund the grant that moves us that much closer to a cure? It’s almost like I can’t let myself stop!

What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?
My favorite memory was year one, night two, in Philadelphia. We had just completed 40 miles and I thought I could not take one step more than I actually had to…but then came the dance party! I remember looking around at these amazing, empowered women, and a few brave men, and thinking to myself how awesome it felt to be dancing the night away, despite the 40 miles! Another favorite moment was year four or five when I was asked to carry the “my father” flag during the Opening Ceremony. My father had just died from pancreatic cancer. Other favorite moments were meeting my teammates along the route. I remember meeting Maryanne around mile 10 on day two; now she’s become one of my closest friends. And I remember when Maryanne and I picked up Libby, a solo walker, at the Opening Ceremony. She walked every mile with us that year and for four more years after that.

How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?
As mentioned above, I’m sending fundraising emails and posting on Facebook nearly year-round. I send a thank you card (like a holiday card) with photos from the events I participate in, along with a personal note, each year after the 3-Day. I stay in touch with my 3-Day friends on Facebook. One year I was lucky enough to head to Komen Headquarters for the Commitment Club event. Additionally, when I think about “living the 3-Day spirit,” I also think of more generally “giving back” to the world. This year has provided ample opportunity to do so! I raised money and participated in events for other cancer-fighting organizations like Purple Stride for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and running the Boston Marathon as part of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge. I also fostered 13 different kittens since March while working from home (not all at the same time) and also had the (unfortunate) opportunity to donate convalescent plasma for those fighting COVID-19!

Now that you’ve raised $250,000, what’s the next goal you’ve got your eyes on?
It’s the same goal it’s always been—a world without breast cancer! And more money for the research and early detection that will save lives and/or extend the time people get to spend with friends and family. $250,000 is just a fun milestone along that journey! I suppose the next big milestone will be $500,000!

Tell us what the 3-Day means to you.
Friendship, hope, passion, commitment, perseverance, family, fun, emotional, rewarding. It’s too hard to sum up, but those are some good words off the top of my head.

Thank you, Julie, for your year-round dedication to the 3-Day and our mission to end breast cancer. We’re impressed by the amazing amount of money you’ve been able to raise, and we are looking forward to sharing many more 3-Day memories with you in the years to come.

Julie’s achievement will qualify her for the Impact level in the Lifetime Commitment Circle. She joins Loretta E., Kathy G., Liz G., Bert S., and Burt L. as Impact members at the $250,000 level.

Liz Goldman’s Fundraising Milestone: $250,000 Raised

“It wasn’t breast cancer that changed my life, it was the 3-Day.”

We are thrilled to induct another 3-Day participant into the Impact level of our Lifetime Commitment Circle. This exclusive honor is bestowed on those who have reached an incredible fundraising milestone—raising $250,000 for the 3-Day. Liz Goldman has been a part of the 3-Day family since 2004, and we are so inspired by her level of commitment. We asked Liz to answer a few questions so we could introduce you to this amazing woman.

How did you get involved with the 3-Day?
In 2003, when I was 41 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. After over a year of treatment, I signed up to do my first 3-Day in New York City. My aunt had crewed in Atlanta before and recommended I get involved. I signed up to walk and my husband signed up to be a crew member.

I met a woman on that walk who had a cancer similar to mine, and she was receiving Herceptin as part of her protocol. I came home and immediately called my oncologist. It was already on his radar, and I started Herceptin shortly thereafter. The research behind Herceptin was funded by Susan G. Komen. To this day, I am convinced (as is my oncologist) that Herceptin saved my life. The New York 3-Day was my first walk, but I knew it would not be my last.

We all know raising money during a global pandemic is not easy, but how did you do it?
To be honest, considering the pandemic, I wasn’t sure whether I should try fundraising at all this year. I didn’t want to be insensitive to people’s current problems and worries. But I realized—despite the existence of the COVID-19 scourge, women (and men) were still going to hear those life changing words: “you have cancer.”

So, a group of us from the NY/NJ area who had become friends through our perennial 3-Days decided to band together in defiance! We would do our “own 3-Day” this year. And with that I was off to the fundraising races once again. My dear friend, hero, inspiration, and 3-Day mentor Burt L. had hit the $250K mark earlier this year, and I was about $39K away from that milestone. Some say it is my competitive nature (lol); I say I was on a mission!

I expressed to my all of my donors that COVID-19 bedamned, I was still doing my 3-Day walk and that I was on a mission to reach a coveted goal: $250,000.

Liz and Burt

What is your secret to raising so much money every year?
I wish I had a secret to share, but I really don’t. I can only tell you that I have very generous family and friends that have donated to me year after year. They have made my cause their cause, and I am incredibly grateful. I share my story, I “walk the talk” and I ask everyone I know (and many I don’t) for a donation. Honestly, with the cause on my mind so often, fundraising for the 3-Day becomes second nature.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the huge boost I receive from everyone I know and love. Their cheerleading and encouragement give me strength and inspire me to carry on with my mission of living in a world without breast cancer. And my husband Win leads the way. He has been a crew member (a much harder job than walking 60 miles) every year that I have walked. Breast cancer was not just my diagnosis, but his as well. Every one of my 3-Day walks, and every dollar I have raised, would not have been possible without his support and love.

Liz and her husband Win

What keeps you coming back to the 3-Day again and again?
The answer to this question is easy but unfortunate: I will walk until I can’t, or until there is no need to, whichever comes first. There are too many women (and men) who still hear those words “you have breast cancer.” Their lives are turned upside down emotionally, mentally, and of course physically while going through difficult treatment. Sadly, too many still die, leaving behind loved ones way too early in life. I know that many have walked before me, and I benefited from their commitment and efforts. The funds they raised helped bring about early detection, and new treatments and protocols that give a better quality of life during treatment, resulting in extended and saved lives. I feel it is my obligation to pay it back and pay it forward.

What are some of your top 3-Day memories from past years?
There are so many! The beautiful cities I’ve walked in and the lasting friendships I have made over the years will always fill my heart. Those very cute San Diego police officers who dance in their very cute uniforms, the cheering stations, the food, the rest stops, the food, the decorations, the food—well, you get the idea.

Unfortunately there are bittersweet ones as well: a daughter walking because her mom just passed away, a husband walking because he just lost his wife, a newly married young woman who just had a bi-lateral mastectomy at the age of 28. I hold onto these tearful memories just as tightly as the joyous ones, to remind me that I cannot stop walking.

Liz on the San Diego 3-Day

Now that you’ve raised $250,000 what’s the next goal you’ve got your eyes on?
I just want to keep “walking the talk.” I am dedicated to training for the 3-Day, raising as much money as I can and spreading the word about breast cancer and Susan G. Komen.   

For my 20th survivorship celebration in two years, I would like to do all the 3-Day walks that year and have my son and daughter join me on one. They have always been my reasons for everything. My cancer diagnosis was aggressive and quite frankly the outcome was not looking so positive when I was initially diagnosed. I am so grateful to be alive and be part of their lives every day.

Liz, her son Jason, and her daughter Kara from Boston 2013, her 10-Year Celebration

How do you live the 3-Day spirit and spread the word all year long?
In the same spirit I mustered to do battle against this disease from a personal standpoint, I now do battle on a global basis, on behalf of all those women and men who deserve the same outcome I have enjoyed since being pronounced cancer-free.

Beginning with my first 3-Day, my thoughts about my cancer and my thoughts about the 3-Day have become more and more intertwined, to the point where when I share my story about breast cancer, the 3-Day is always, always a part of it.

I have always said, “It wasn’t breast cancer that changed my life, it was the 3-Day.”

Tell us what the 3-Day means to you.
I think of the 3-Day as the perfect combination of celebration, remembrance, and forward-looking determination.

It’s a celebration of the strides we’ve made and a joyous gathering of everyone who, by their very presence, is a part of the Komen family and, as such, my extended family.

The remembrance is the solemn bittersweetness we feel and think of when remembering and honoring all those lost to this disease.  

The forward-looking determination is the knowledge of how much good has come from what we have all contributed to the 3-Day, and the drive toward building on that foundation of progress, helping to create a brighter future for the world by eradicating breast cancer.

I am proud and honored to be a part of the 3-Day.

Thank you, Liz, for your many years of dedication to the 3-Day and our mission to end breast cancer. We’re honored to be such an important part of your life and are lucky to have you as part of our family. The incredible amount of money you’ve raised is working to save and extend the lives of thousands of women and men facing breast cancer.

Liz’s achievement will qualify her for the Impact level in the Lifetime Commitment Circle. She joins Loretta E., Kathy G., Bert S., and Burt L. as Impact members at the $250,000 level.

Burt Lipshie’s Fundraising Milestone: $250,000 Raised

“The 3-Day has given me a purpose beyond my own day-to-day life. I cannot imagine what the last 16 years would have been without it.” —Burt Lipshie

We are honored to celebrate Burt Lipshie, 29-time 3-Day walker, on surpassing the incredible fundraising milestone of $250,000 raised for the 3-Day! We marvel at the ways in which he’s made the world a better place through his participation and fundraising. We asked Burt to answer a few questions that we’re excited showcase here today on the 3-Day blog.

How did you get involved with the 3-Day?

My sweet cousin, Judy Lipshie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. The tumor was small, and her lymph nodes were clear, so after a lumpectomy and radiation, she and her doctors thought she was done with it. However, two years later after suffering what felt like a torn muscle in her abdominal area, Judy got the news that her breast cancer had metastasized to her liver. Over the next three years, she was a fighter who did all she could. She was a true champion. But she could not conquer the beast. She died, still in the prime of her life, in April 2004 at 62 years of age.

Several weeks later as I was in my office, Judy just seemed to be everywhere. I could really feel her presence. I emailed her daughters to tell them that I was having a “Judy Day,” and they wrote back that they weren’t surprised. They were having one, too. They thought their momma was proud of them that day because they had just signed up for the 2004 Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day. I told them I was proud of them too, and that I would surely contribute to help them reach their goals.

I thought about it for a couple of days and knew I could not let them do this without me. I needed to put my body on the line as well to fight back against Judy’s killer, so we walked together. As we cried on each other’s shoulders at the end of the Closing Ceremony, I realized that I had found my life’s cause. The 2020 New England 3-Day would have been my 30th walk.

We all know raising money during a global pandemic isn’t easy, but how have you done it?

I am blessed with an extraordinary donor group. My donations are somewhat lower this year than prior years, but not dramatically. In this year’s fundraising emails I have focused on reminding them that breast cancer does not practice social distancing, and that it is not “on pause” because of the pandemic. Indeed, breast cancer patients and survivors, with their compromised immune systems and vulnerability to the economic disaster the pandemic has caused, are among the most at-risk segments of our community. I think that struck a responsive chord. Additionally, Komen’s decision to put all 3-Day donations through the end of June into the COVID-19 Action Fund also really helped. I could honestly tell my donors that their dollars were going directly to assist people who needed help the most.

What is your secret to raising so much money every year?

I wish I had a secret that I could share. You know that old saying, “Choose your parents wisely”? That can be applied to donors as well. I haven’t done anything special. I write emails to my friends and colleagues, make them cry, and then I just become the conduit for their incredible caring and generosity. I suppose that it helps that they know how hard the 3-Day is from all of my prior emails and journals, and I have found that keeping the group apprised of how training is going and of any news that Komen has shared on the scientific front helps to remind those who might otherwise put off making an annual donation.

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

Of course, it is mostly the cause. I need to do all I can to help see to it that Judy did not die in vain. I need to do all I can to help bring about the day when no other man or woman, no other family, loses a person they love to breast cancer.

But there is also the 3-Day community. Little did I know back in 2004 that I would quickly become embraced by this extraordinary group of people. Since 2008, I have done two walks every year – Dallas/Fort Worth with my cousins, and first Chicago, then Michigan, with my dear friend, Mary Larson. When, a few years ago, Mary thought she was through walking, I decided that I would cut back to walking only Dallas/Fort Worth, and that that year’s Michigan walk would be my last. However, by the time that Michigan 3-Day was done, I had already signed up for the next year.

How could I give up spending that long weekend with all the friends I had made over the years? The 3-Day community is very, very, special.

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

You can well imagine that over 29 3-Day walks I have accumulated many memories. A couple stick out.

The most meaningful for me happens every year in Dallas. In the Spring of 2004, I was asked to participate in a conference on the future of legal education held at SMU Law School in Dallas. Judy was then living with her mom in Abilene but had spent most of her adult life in Dallas, and she had planned to come to Dallas while I was there and sneak in to hear me speak. However, by the time the conference was held, she was already in hospice. After the conference, I took a long lonely walk along Turtle Creek, where she and I had so often walked together. This time, my steps took me all the way up to Curtis Park. There, sitting on a bench, I spoke with Judy by phone. It was the last time I heard her voice. She died two days later.

Every year, the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day goes through Curtis Park, and passes “Judy’s Bench.” Every year, I get to walk by that sad place with hundreds of others fighting the same fight that for me began on that bench. It is always a highly emotional moment for me. In 2019, one of the 3-Day legends, Jim Hillmann, was walking with me when we got there, and he already knew my story from prior years. When I reached the bench, and essentially dissolved, Jim was right there to get me through it. His kindness at that moment embodied the 3-Day spirit.

Another powerful memory is also from the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day. It was day three, and our route had us turning down Houston Street heading toward Dealey Plaza. There, at a small informal cheering station, sat an elderly woman holding a sign that thanked us for walking “from a 50-year survivor.” Without even thinking about it, I stopped, knelt at her feet, and took and kissed her hand. We both cried. I could go on for days about powerful 3-Day memories, but those may be the clearest in my mind.

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

The 3-Day spirit and the mission is much more than just the three days of the event. It is year-round. As I always write to my donors during October, “you and I don’t need no stinkin’ awareness month.” My pink Komen bracelet is on my wrist every minute of every day. When I go out for a walk, whether for training or (especially these past couple of months) to get out of the house and get some air, I always wear a 3-Day shirt, 3-Day hat, and hot pink sneakers, along with my fanny pack festooned with 3-Day pins. I want always to be a walking billboard.

Every once in a while, it pays off when a woman passing me or going the other way looks at my get-up, and I can see in her face that she is thinking, “Yes, I need to make an appointment for a mammogram.”

Now that you’ve raised $250,000, what’s the next goal you’ve got your eyes on?

The thought that I have actually raised $250,000 is still astonishing to me. I remember so vividly when I sent out my first fundraising email in the Spring of 2004, I was wondering how much of the minimum fundraising requirement I could raise through donors and how much I would have to self-donate to do that one walk.

Amazingly, I wound up the number three fundraiser for San Diego 3-Day in 2004. Those wonderful people have never stopped donating. A few weeks ago, within moments of receiving the donation that put me over $250,000, I received another donation.

I thought how fitting it was to immediately start on the next $250,000. Well, it took me 16 years to raise this much. At my age, I cannot imagine being able to do this for another 16 years…there is, after all, only one George Nummer. However, my goal remains what it has been from the first dollar I raised: to do everything I can to slay the monster that murdered my Judy. So, for as long as I can, I will keep fundraising and walking.

Tell us what the 3-Day means to you.

The 3-Day has enabled me to fight back against my beloved cousin’s killer.

It has allowed me to be the conduit for the generosity of the many people in my world who have responded to my fundraising emails over the years.

It has brought me lifelong friends from among those I have met on event, and from my own local New York group of walkers.

The 3-Day has given me a purpose beyond my own day-to-day life. I cannot imagine what the last 16 years would have been without it.

Burt, we cannot thank you enough for your passion, dedication, and heart. THANK YOU for your commitment to making a difference in the fight against breast cancer. We are inspired by you and grateful for the contribution you’ve made to lead our Komen 3-Day family with your remarkable fundraising accomplishment!

Burt’s achievement will qualify him for the next level in the Lifetime Commitment Circle. He joins Loretta Englishbee, Kathy Giller and Bert Stein as Impact members at the $250,000 level.