Pros and Cons of Being a Loyal Volunteer (or 3-Day Crew Member)

To finish out National Volunteer Week, we are breaking down all the pros (and even some of the cons) of being a loyal 3-Day volunteer and Crew Member.

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Pro: You’ve proudly collected and saved each T-shirt from every event you’ve supported.

Con:  You’ve outgrown your dresser space and even after repurposing your extras into creative items (skirts, shorts, pillows, and quilts), your closet still resembles a T-shirt store.

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Pro: Walkers and runners are so thankful at seeing your smiling face as you hand them a refreshing cup of water at a hydration stop.

Con:  Your co-workers look at you strangely when in the break room you cheer “Eat, drink, pee, and there will be no IV.”

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Pro: Participants love seeing your creative and flashy outfits at their rest stops.

Con: You have burns on your fingertips from hot gluing decorations to your clothes.

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Pro: At the end of an event you might find yourself taking home a full box of sweet and salty granola bars, gramwiches or a lot of bananas.

Con: Your lunches consist of sweet and salty granola bars and gramwiches for two weeks. Plus your kids don’t like banana bread.

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Pro: You’ve become an extremely early riser!

Con:  On those rare weekends that you’re not volunteering at an event, you have a hard time sleeping in past 5am.

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Pro: You are an event expert, and answer hundreds of questions from participants and spectators all day long.

Cons: At the end of a long and tiring day, you can’t answer one simple question – where did I leave MY car?

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Pro: You make sure participants have a safe route and are skilled at traffic control at busy intersections.

Con: You are tempted to get out of your car when in a crowded parking lot to show people how to get thousands of cars to the nearest exit!

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Pro: You’ve become accustomed to hugging everyone you meet, regarding them as instant family.

Con:  Not everyone is “a hugger.”

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Pro: There’s never a shortage of emotional surges of inspiration when seeing participants complete the event.

Con: No one understands the high you have for the week after the event; not even your kids.

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April Fundraising Calendar

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It’s a new week and a new month and we are very excited to see the start of April! Spring is hitting its stride, which means a lot of outdoor fun is coming in terms of training walks, fundraising events and more. The Susan. G Komen Greater Fort Worth Race for the Cure and the Komen Mid-Michigan Race for the Cure are also taking place this month, and plenty of other exciting events for you to gather your 3-Day family around.

Plus, there are all kinds of holidays and events happening in April, so let’s get going!

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April is National Poetry Month and Humor Month, among others, so there are plenty of fun ways to use those holidays to your advantage:

  • Give your next round of fundraising letters a twist, and write them as a poem! It will make your potential donors smile, and help you stick in their minds as the 3-Day comes closer.
  • Gather your team together to go to a comedy show! Make it a reward for hitting training goals, and use laughter to bond together as a team.
  • You could also go to a poetry reading or a beat poetry slam for a more out-of-the-box bonding experience.
  • Also, keep an eye on our Facebook page for jokes, memories and maybe even a poem or two from our coaches.

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There are a whole heap of training walks, New Walker Meet-Ups, Get Started Meetings, Video Conferences and more happening in April. What can we say, we’re happy it’s spring and wanted to get moving and learning with you all! Some of those events are highlighted in the calendar above, but you can find the complete list on our website here. We will also be calling out more local events on our Facebook page, so keep an eye out.

For any Texas walkers, April 22nd also marks our Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth Race for the Cure. It’s the perfect event to gather your team for an extra special training morning that still supports breast cancer research. If you’re in the area, there is even a team of 3-Day participants who will all be racing together!

Then on April 23rd, there will be the Komen Mid-Michigan Race for the Cure in Lansing, MI, which also has participants from the 3-Day! You can donate, or join the team and get some easy training steps in.

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Other key days this month include:

  • April 1: April Fool’s Day: Did you fall for our joke this year? Check out the blog for more fun graphics sure to make you smile!
  • April 7: Walk to Work Day: If you have co-workers on your team, this is the perfect time to get them together for a training walk to or from the office. It’s also a great opportunity to recruit more of your work friends, or even friends who work nearby, to walk with you.
  • April 16: Easter Sunday: Looking for a fun and festive fundraising event? Host an Easter Egg Hunt at your house! Ask neighborhood families, as well as your friends, to make a donation to be a part of the hunt, and make all the eggs pink in 3-Day spirit!
  • April 17: Income Tax Due Date: This is hardly a holiday that most people get excited about. However, it’s also the perfect time to thank donors from last year who haven’t donated to your 2017 3-Day yet. Remind them to file their donation from last year on their taxes, and let them know you’ll be walking again!
  • April 20: Volunteer Recognition Day: The 3-Day would be nothing without our amazing volunteers, and other supporters who take time out of their days to make your 60 miles truly special. If you know a 3-Day volunteer, send them a thank you note! If you don’t, it’s still a great time to remind people of the value of service and giving back to the community…maybe by walking or crewing a 2017 3-Day! Also, keep an eye on our social media channels as we will be celebrating volunteers all week long, from Monday, April 23 through Friday, April 29 by sharing stories and inspiration from our very own 3-Day volunteers.
  • April 22: Earth Day: Throughout the next few months, we will be showcasing all the beautiful sights and spots along all our 3-Day walks. We know we’re very lucky to be hosted by just some of the beautiful cities in America! In honor of all the beauty of nature, in our 3-Day cities and beyond, hold a training walk and extend it to non-3-Day walkers too! Everyone will love the chance to get moving outside, and you might even recruit some new team members or donors in the process.

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What are your fundraising and training goals for April? How will you work to achieve them?

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Moving and Shaking with Michigan’s Dancing Lady

As we wrap up National Volunteer Week, we’re delighted to turn the spotlight on one truly groovy 3-Day volunteer.

Every year, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day events welcome back thousands of returning walkers. Whether they’re back for the second time or have been part of the 3-Day since it began, veteran walkers know to expect to see certain things when they take their 60-mile stroll, and this is especially true for folks who return to the same 3-Day location year after year.

For example, Michigan walkers know that their 3-Day experience just won’t be complete until they’ve seen Cathy Schwandt. Cathy has walked the 3-Day 5 times herself and crewed once, but that’s not why people know her. On the Michigan 3-Day, Cathy is unmistakable for her alter-ego: the Michigan Dancing Lady.11845028_10102028722610485_1178448464454582419_o

Although she is a breast cancer survivor, Cathy wasn’t necessarily compelled to get involved with the 3-Day because of her own connection with the disease. “I was diagnosed in 1980, and I really didn’t get involved in anything breast cancer-related until I was almost 20 years out. It never entered my mind before that.” After taking part in the Race for the Cure with a friend, Cathy decided to up her game. “I was looking for an event to walk because I had just gotten in shape, and I saw the 3-Day in a magazine. It just kind of caught me, so I got my niece to walk with me. It wasn’t really because of breast cancer, but that was the bonus on top of it.” Right from the start, for Cathy, the 3-Day was about doing something fulfilling. “It was a challenge, but I could do it. I never advertised that I was a survivor, but once I got involved and saw what it did for the people going through breast cancer, I started seeing the meaning and understanding the impact.”

That was the San Francisco Bay Area 3-Day in 2001. Cathy has countless happy memories from her first 3-Day, and she vividly remembers one particular supporter on that event, a guy who drove along the route in his truck for all 3 days, blasting “Pretty Woman” on repeat for all the walkers to hear. Cathy, a Motown native (she’s fond of saying, “You can take the girl out of Detroit, but you can’t take Detroit out of the girl”), loves to dance. “Every time the ‘Pretty Woman’ truck would come by, I’d pick up my step and start dancing, and it loosened me up and made me feel better when the walking was getting tough.” She didn’t know it at the time, but that was when Dancing Lady was born.

The following year, Cathy went to walk in Washington, D.C., and experienced quite a different vibe along the route. This was 2002, and the nation’s capital was still reeling from the events of September 11, 2001. Cathy recalls that so many places around the D.C. area were locked down and quiet, and that silence was noticeable on the 3-Day. “In D.C., there was nobody. I realized what a difference it made having that support on the route.”270712_142046559203558_4022232_n

Cathy knew that the Michigan 3-Day was coming up just a few weeks later, and she had a friend walking there. “That was the first year the 3-Day was in Michigan, and I knew they wouldn’t have the support up there yet. It was a brand new event and people didn’t know to go out and do that yet. So that’s why I went up there and said, the least I can do is play music.” Cathy positioned herself right outside of the Opening Ceremony to give the walkers an enthusiastic send-off, then continued stopping along the route all day. “I was there with my little boom box out the back of my car just playing music and dancing. I did it on Friday and Saturday, but had to work on Sunday. My friend told me later that everyone was asking, ‘Where did that dancing lady go?’”

That was it. Cathy knew what her role would be from that point on and she has been at the Michigan 3-Day ever since. It wasn’t long before she had her own logo. She made Dancing Lady pins she could sell. She has her own Facebook page. Indeed, the Dancing Lady is a fixture on the Michigan 3-Day.292020_10150750917995392_1969934_n

The only time Cathy has missed the Michigan event was in 2013 when the 3-Day was just a few weeks after she had had surgery for pancreatic cancer. “When I had my surgery in 2013, I posted that I wouldn’t be able to come.” She tears up a bit remembering it. “And those people in Michigan got a 20-foot piece of poster paper, and every walker signed it. Everybody signed it that walked. People wrote out postcards and I got 2 big envelopes full of them. Friends made a life-size cut-out of me for people to take pictures with and put a picture of my face on a stick and took ‘Flat Cathy’ around with them.”1146337_10201797693367256_1205811397_o

In 2013, Cathy updated her Dancing Lady logo to include the purple pancreatic cancer ribbon too.

In 2013, Cathy updated her Dancing Lady logo to include the purple pancreatic cancer ribbon too.

Some people may not immediately think of cheering and dancing when they think of volunteering, but in Cathy’s case, it sure is. “It’s definitely volunteering! I put 4 days of my life to it. I’ve missed my husband’s birthday for the 3-Day. What I do in 4 days, I get back a thousand times. The love, the appreciation. But that’s not why I do it though.”

We certainly can’t imagine the Michigan 3-Day without our Dancing Lady, and it’s exciting to know that she’ll be there this August to celebrate the 3-Day’s 150th event with us. After that? “My husband and I are retired and we’re going to travel, so I’m not sure,” Cathy says. Then she immediately reconsiders with a chuckle. “Every year I say I’m not going back, but it comes around and I just can’t stay away.

Cathy, Michigan's Dancing Lady, is a 3-Day celebrity.

Cathy, Michigan’s Dancing Lady, is a 3-Day celebrity.

“You just don’t know the impact you can have until you’ve seen it first-hand. I’ve gotten emails from walkers saying, ‘Just when I thought I couldn’t walk another step, there you were.’ Every year, I get similar messages. How could I not keep doing it?”

Would you like to get into the volunteer spirit and organize your very own 3-Day mobile cheering squad (1-4 people) or private cheering station (groups of five or more)? If so, please contact a coach 2-6 weeks prior to the 3-Day.