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!

10 Ways to Update Your 3-Day Training as the Weather Cools

Last month was the official start of Fall, and now October is here! Where has the time gone? But we still have three more 3-Day walks ahead for the year, and we know that many of you are kicking your training into high gear for these final weeks. As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, your training plans need to change with the season. There are a few simple steps you can take to make your fall training safer and more productive.

Tip 1 — Plan ahead: Temperature isn’t the only thing you should be monitoring as fall and winter arrive. You should also look out for rain and/or fog in the forecast. Plan your route for places you know well, and that have areas to step off the route for a rest or to seek shelter if rain begins.

Tip 2 — Increase stretching: Stretch inside before you begin your walk, then do another quick stretch outside right before you start. Finally, don’t forget to stretch when you’re back home and the walk is done! You need to keep your muscles limber and as warm as much as possible.

Tip 3 — Stay in the sunshine while you can: Many parts of the country will have warmer weather for a bit longer, so take advantage while you can! Also, no matter where you live, check the weather for the day to make sure there isn’t rain or snow coming up, and to schedule your walk for when the sun is highest, and the weather is warmest.

Tip 4 — Layer up but keep your layers thin: Avoid bulk that will get annoying as you walk! Instead, dress in multiple layers that you can easily remove if you get warmer. Pack items like a hat or scarf in your pack in case the wind shifts or it gets cooler.

Tip 5 — Don’t forget your fingers and skin: They need to be kept warm, too! People often remember a warmer hat, but don’t forget your gloves. Pack lotion and lip balm for longer walks because your skin will need extra hydration and protection in cooler temps. And don’t forget sunscreen! Even when it’s cold, you still need to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

Tip 6 — Space out your steps: Instead of aiming for much longer walks only once or twice a week, plan your schedule to include more frequent walks with less miles in each one. This will keep you from being outside for longer than necessary.

Tip 7 — Go with your gut: Don’t insist on walking for a set number of times or hours. If you feel too chilly, weather pops up, or you just need to turn back, listen to your body! If need be, you can even pop into the next shop or café you see and order a cab to take you back to your starting point. Don’t push yourself unnecessarily!

Tip 8 — Stay alert: Keeping eyes on the ground and on your surroundings will keep you safe! Many people walk with headphones in, and this is an extra important tip for all of you. From icy patches to big puddles, to cars or snowplows and more… there is a lot to keep an eye out for.

Tip 9 — Hydration is still key: You might not feel thirsty, but you still need to drink and pee! We always remind you of this on the 3-Day but on your training walks, please remember to hydrate even more than you think you do.

Tip 10 — Grab a buddy! Laughter might not technically warm your body, but having a walking partner will warm your heart 😊 They can also track your hydration, help you keep an eye out for traffic or looming rain clouds, and keep you motivated on your walk.

What are your training goals for Fall 2019? Tell us in the comments, and share your tips for making the most of those walks…

For tips about healthy living, click here for advice and support to keep you on track for the 3-Day and beyond. Thanks to the support of Amgen and in partnership with American Bone Health, the Healthy Living series was designed to prepare your mind, body and bones for the 3-Day.