A Warm Walker’s Welcome to New Members of the 3-Day Family

We love our new walkers and do everything we can to make sure they feel welcomed! Some veteran participants go above and beyond to bring newbies into the 3-Day Pink Bubble, whether that is by encouraging them in the 3-Day Facebook Groups, helping with fundraising tips, or, in Betsy’s case, getting even more creative.

How did you first become involved in the 3-Day?

A friend from Washington State met me for dinner one night way back in the winter of 2005. She was in New Hampshire on business. She said she was interested in doing “something special” and wanted to know if I was interested. I said, “Sure, tell me about it,” and the conversation went something like this:

  • FRIEND: I want to do a fundraising walk for breast cancer. Do you think you’d like to join me?
  • ME: Sure! Where and when?
  • FRIEND: Seattle…in August
  • ME: Okay!
  • FRIEND: It’s 60 miles. It’s three days.
  • ME: Oh.
  • FRIEND: And you have to raise over $2,000
  • ME: Oh…Okay…

I agreed to do this walk before I talked it over with my husband and my employer. Luckily for me, they both agreed to the plan. I was nervous and excited about this endeavor. I am not an enthusiastic exerciser, but I trained according to the schedule. I went outside my comfort level and asked everyone I knew (and some people I didn’t!) for donations. I have exceeded the minimum for fundraising each year I’ve participated since 2006.

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day has been a life changing experience for me. Although I have not been personally touched by breast cancer, I have had my share of abnormal mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs. Becoming involved with the 3-Day has been the most empowering thing I have ever done. After finishing the Seattle 3-Day in 2006, I set a goal for myself to walk in all of the cities at least once, no matter how long it took. Back then, there were 14 walks.

You have a special place in your heart for first-time 3-Day walkers. Why is welcoming them into the family so important to you?

That first year, I was a stranger to the 3-Day. I traveled from New Hampshire to Seattle by myself to meet a team of 14 women, of which I only knew one. I was unsure if I could really do this. At first, I felt alone in the crowd, and I didn’t have family to see me off. We hadn’t trained together, so I didn’t know what my team’s pace was like. Would we all stay together? Would we spread out and never see each other on the route? I was really scared. Then I started to meet other walkers, and we started sharing our stories. I made friends that weekend who are still near and dear to my heart.

Since 2006, I have traveled to one 3-Day a year. For my first seven walks, I was a solo walker. I gathered friends as I walked and talked. I laughingly say my Christmas Card list grows exponentially with every walk I do! I became better at meeting strangers, at reaching out to those who looked unsure or alone. I knew what it was like to be that “stranger in a strange land.” I don’t ever want anyone to feel the way I felt that first walk. Every so often, newbies can get the feeling that they don’t quite belong there. I don’t ever want to be the reason someone feels like they are on the outside looking in.

I also want them to come back next year! I know that we are still trying to grow participation. In order to do this, we need new faces, and new energy. I’ll be 60 this year. I’ll be walking 60 miles in Chicago for my 60th birthday. After not gathering in 2020, I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again!

How do you welcome them into the family?

I simply say, “Hello,” and smile! I ask them about themselves: Where are they from? How many walks have they done? Is this the first? What made them decide to commit? If it is their first walk, I give them one of my First Timer Goodie Bags as a token to welcome to the Pink Family! It is a small pink organza bag with a pink ribbon on it, filled with little tokens…pink band aids, a smiley face pin, a pink ribbon rubber duck, a couple of mints, some temporary tattoos, a 2006 Canadian Quarter with a pink ribbon on it, and most importantly, a business card with my contact information on it so they can reach out if they need ANYTHING! I remember how much fun it was collecting goodies along the way…stickers, beads, pins from Sweep vans…all mementos I treasure.

What is your favorite moment at the 3-Day?

Hearing stories…crying together…laughing together…camaraderie…welcoming the Last Walker home for the night. Knowing that all of our Pink Family is safe under the same roof…seeing faces from last year’s walk at the Opening Ceremony…spending some quiet time in the Remembrance Tent.

If you could send a message to everyone in the Pink Bubble family, what would it be?

I love you all and can’t wait to collect my hugs!!!! And all the love!!!! I miss you!!!

Thank you, Betsy, for going above and beyond to welcome new walkers to the 3-Day family! You are the reason this community is so incredibly special. And a huge welcome and Pink Bubble hug to our new 3-Day walkers! We are all here cheer you on for your very first 3-Day event. On the 3-Day, you are never alone.