Meet Team Independent: A Family Affair on the Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

The 3-Day becomes like a family for many in our community, bringing people from all walks of life together in the fight for a world without breast cancer. Some even bring their own personal family and friends along with them to the 3-Day. When the 3-Day family becomes one with your own, magical and amazing memories are made.

If you need any inspiration to invite your family to join your 3-Day team this year, you can look no further than Melissa L. and Team Independent in Dallas/Fort Worth. Their team of family members and supporters is the perfect example of incorporating your own motivation and family love into your 3-Day journey.

Everyone from her daughter Alex and her husband David to nieces, her sister-in-law, and her nephew have all joined Melissa on Team Independent over the years. In fact, Alex has continued to walk while attending college, graduate school, and having multiple children. Melissa’s nephew Becket was a Youth Corps member who is looking forward to walking his first 3-Day this year. To say the 3-Day has become a family affair for Melissa is quite the understatement!

After years of walking and crewing with her family, Melissa is full of tips, tricks and memories to help you make the most of your own 3-Day experience. Whether you walk with friends, family or solo, she is a well of information. We’ll let her take it from here…

How did you first find your way to the 3-Day family?

I initially heard about the 3-Day back in 2004 on a radio commercial. I was five years from my diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer and my daughter Alex was in high school then.

However, we didn’t fully jump into the Pink Bubble until 2007. Alex was in college and my husband was our “walker stalker.” My husband is an avid cyclist and saw the Route Safety Crew riding their bikes, which got him interested. He jumped onto Route Safety in 2008! He enjoyed being part of the crew and couldn’t understand why I hadn’t joined the 3-Day crew yet, too. So, in 2010, I joined him on Route Safety with the provision that he would walk with us in 2011. I have to say that Route Safety was great fun, but it was so much harder than being a walker for me! So, David walked in 2011 for the first time and he has been a walker ever since!

We always walk in Dallas/Fort Worth. We love supporting our hometown and hosting out-of-town team members!

What are your tips for walking and participating with your own family?

  • Know everyone’s pace and capabilities and use the buddy system with teenagers. Empower everyone to stick to their pace and avoid injury both on training walks and on the event.
  • At the 3-Day, make a schedule to meet for meals or activities, so more experienced walkers can help and encourage the new walkers.
  • Make fun shirts and pink bling! Matchy-matchy is the way to go! Be “family proud.” 😊
  • Train together. Training walks are a great way to unplug and spend time together. It’s amazing how much you can learn about nieces and nephews when you leave electronics at home!

What are some of your best memories from the 3-Day?

Being a long-term part of the 3-Day family, I was asked to speak at the camp show in 2017 and David also spoke at the Opening Ceremony that year. We were both proud to take an active role in sharing our story with our pink family.

Then in 2018, my husband and I walked with our daughter and teenage nieces. Our nephew was on Youth Corps in the same year. It was great to experience the 3-Day through their fresh eyes. We held up on Day 3 so we could all cross the finish line together! We were so proud of those teenagers!

That year was eventful, too! In 2018 we were evacuated from camp because of a severe thunderstorm. Since David and I are avid backpackers, we secured our tent before vacating and after the storms passed, we jumped back in our tent and it was warm and dry. It was seriously so impressive to watch the Susan G. Komen and event staff manage the crew and walkers to keep us safe and then to get us back to sleep before we had to walk on Day 3. Well done everyone!

In general, though, the best memories come from the friends we have made walking thousands of miles on training walks and on event.

What does “commitment” mean to you?

Commitment means standing strong with our pink family of survivors, co-survivors and the loving and dedicated family and friends of those who continue to fight for those we have lost. Commitment means no matter what else life brings our way — death of parents, serious illnesses, welcoming our son-in-law and then welcoming grandsons — we keep putting one foot in front of the other and we keep raising awareness and money to find the CURE!

What are your 2020 3-Day plans?

2020 once again finds David and I walking in Dallas/Fort Worth. Our daughter, Alex, will be a 20-mile walker as she will be giving birth to her second son before the event this year! Our nephew Beckett will be a first-time 3-Day walker this year and our youngest twin nephews are going to apply for Youth Corps! I’ve challenged myself to raise $12,000 this year. It’s a personal bold goal, but I think I can do it! Nothing can stop us!

You can join Melissa and Team Independent in Dallas/Fort Worth in November, or the rest of our 3-Day family at our other 2020 cities by signing up on our website!

Winter Training Tips from Training Walk Leaders

Tomorrow marks the official start of winter, and while that means that the holidays are coming closer (yay!), it also means the weather is bound to get colder if it hasn’t already. But how can you keep up with your training, even in the winter? Don’t worry! There are ways to train safely and effectively, even in chilly temps.

We decided to go straight to the experts for the latest and greatest tips for winter walking. Some of our training walk leaders pitched in and shared their knowledge to help you make the most of these next few months. These are their no-fail tips.

Susan C. from Michigan

During winter months when weather is bad, my team (the Hines Pink Pathers) will walk in one of our local malls or at The Henry Ford Museum as a team. Many individuals will also walk on the track or a treadmill at a local gym. I am fortunate to have one in my home so I will walk on the ‟Dreadmill” while watching a movie to make the time go by.

Michelle B. from Dallas/Fort Worth

For a fun way to get people involved, every year we have a Christmas walk and invite all the 3-Dayers we know and potential 3-Dayers, too.

Kate P. from New England

Layers, layers, layers. Depending on how cold it is, I recommend a base layer with fleece pants on the bottom and a wicking base layer, fleece jacket of some sort and a windbreaker on top. A hat and mittens/gloves and (something I definitely need) a fleece cuff so I can wipe my runny nose. I don’t mind going out in the cold, but for those who do, we meet at the local mall before the stores open to walk laps and window shop.

Mary T. from Dallas/Fort Worth

I have a 40-degree rule for walking. When we are not in “official” training season, I only walk when the temperature is 40 or above. No need to walk in really cold weather! Of course, in summer the weather also plays a role. The temperature should be less than 90/95 for me to take on a long-distance walk during that season.

Jeryl V. from Michigan

Dress in layers. My go-to is always wool socks! Feet stay nice and toasty in wool socks.

(at left with Coach Gayla)

Coach Liz

I’ve planned plenty of training walks, so I have lots of tips! But an easy one is to dress in layers you can take off. You never know if you might heat up as you walk! And, even though it is cold you still need to HYDRATE. It keeps the blood flowing! Lastly, if it’s really cold or wet, walking in the mall or a local gym is a great option. Safety first!

For more tips on training in cold weather, you can check out our blog post from last year, and get inspiration from our winter walking playlist!

What are your winter walking tips? Tell us in the comments to spread the knowledge and inspiration!

Why I Walk: How Mark S.’s 3-Day Training Supported His Health Journey

“I know that there are probably very few others on the 3-Day who will understand my excitement to finish 60 miles while battling my illness. I know there are many others who are battling other challenges like mine.”

The 3-Day is an amazing accomplishment for anyone who participates. The fundraising, training, and walk weekend itself push many people out of their comfort zone. Mark S. knew he would be one of those people when he decided to join the Philadelphia 3-Day this year. But Mark also knew that getting out of his comfort zone would be a very good thing!

He was diagnosed with MdDS, Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, in 2016, and has been experiencing a variety of health issues since then.

That, combined with weight gain over the last few decades due to a variety of reasons, led Mark to need — and want! — to make a change in his physical fitness.

“I read that walking helps reduce MdDS symptoms. I had tried walking for exercise many times to try and lose weight before MdDS, so walking seemed like a good option for me. When I first started walking, my limit was ¾ of a mile in 20 minutes. It took another 20 minutes after the walk for my MdDS symptoms to decrease to their “normal” levels. After all my training, I now walk 3 miles in 45 minutes during my lunch break, and the time it takes for my MdDS symptoms to recover from my walks is substantially shorter.”

While he was working on his fitness, Mark decided to join the 3-Day to really jumpstart his progress.

“Walking 60 miles for breast cancer research seemed like the perfect match for my goals. There is no way I could have undertaken this challenge when I was at my heaviest; I could not even manage to walk an entire mile! I imagine the depression, anxiety, and helplessness I often experience with MdDS are some of the same emotions someone has to conquer as they fight breast cancer. But we can all do this!”

Mark began participating in 3-Day training walks, as well as extending his own personal walks. That, combined with healthier eating habits, helped him lose more than 100 pounds!

All of that work culminated in October, when Mark began his first 3-Day in Philadelphia. We caught up with him after he crossed the finish line with a big smile on his face, and he told us how much those 60 miles had meant to him…

The 3-Day weekend was an amazing experience! It was emotional for me personally at the start and of course at the finish. Here I was, challenged to walk even one mile for exercise in early 2018, yet starting a 60-mile journey in October 2019. I never thought I would be at this point where walking this much would be part of my regular daily schedule.

During the walk, it was incredible to talk to others. I met a man who was married for almost 50 years before his wife lost her battle. There was a young mother who just recently finished her final treatment who was walking with her mother. I passed a woman who just had knee surgery four weeks prior but was giving the journey her best. There was a man in an orthopedic boot determined to participate in all 3-Day events this year. The stores were inspiring and will stick with me forever.

I also can’t forget about the Crew! The kids in Youth Corps who truly get what it means to serve others. The people who take the time to decorate the inside of a port-a-potty (I even had to take a picture of the inside of one!). The Safety Crew who made sure walkers were safe. There were so many people giving of their time to make these three days possible!

My walking journey is not finished!

We love seeing walkers like Mark accomplish new goals and reach new heights on the 3-Day and we’re honored to be a part of their wellness journeys.