Why We Walk: The Next Generation Takes on the 3-Day

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We love our participants of all ages, and every year a new crop of walkers joins the 3-Day family. Whether they come from up from the Youth Corps, are recruited by a current 3-Day walker, or join us after years of walker stalking, seeing the smile on a young walker’s face makes our Pink Bubble fill with so much love.

We talked to some of our younger participants who have become loyal 3-Day walkers in the last few years. They’re telling us why they walk now, and why they will continue to walk for years to come.

Sara Brothers

Sisters Sara B. Michigan 3-Day

“This journey started 12 years ago when I watched a 3-Day commercial. I was inspired to help change the world and give back to something that was meaningful. Three years after I started, my Nana, my best friend, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought for 10 months and lost her battle. So now, I walk in memory of my Nana. Every mile I walk, pain endured, and tear I cry is worth it because my Nana lost her life to breast cancer. Watching her fight that battle was one of the hardest things I have done. All the pain and suffering she endured is not something that people should have to go through. I know that every time I do this walk it will be meaningful because I will be walking in memory of her. She was my HERO and I owe it to her to fight to help find a cure! She influenced my life in many ways and helped shape the person I am today and I want her memory to live on.”

And Courtney B., Michigan 3-Day

“10 years ago when I signed up to walk, I thought I would be joining my sister on a fun filled weekend to raise money for a great charity. However, the walk quickly became so much more when our Nana was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Throughout her ten month journey, we learned so much about the wonderful things Susan G Komen® does… not only drug trials but through their local chapters. It was a no brainer for us to continue this journey. I continue to walk because over the past ten years, so much progress has been made in the world of breast cancer because of the money we raise and although my Nana wasn’t able to beat cancer, I know millions of others who are surviving daily.”

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Emily H., Michigan 3-Day

“I took my first steps on the 3-Day for my mother-in-law Lori. Her diagnosis is the reason breast cancer is a part of my life. But what started as her journey quickly became mine. I walk for my daughters, sisters, mother, and the ones that will come after us. Every story that was shared with me during my first 3-Day opened my eyes to the raw fact that cancer does not discriminate, not for race, age, size, family, or money. In a society that is filled with tiers of class (your age, your weight, your marital status, your job) breast cancer effects a little bit of all of us. By natural I am a maternal person. I am always looking to help those around me, and when I was introduced to the 3-Day I saw it as a way to help the people of the world I do not know. The ones that might not be a lucky as my family, who get to celebrate their survivor.

I take every step with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face because I know that with that step I become More Than Pink and am one step closer to helping a stranger celebrate their survivor.”

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Jesse (in his chicken costume) with his mom

Jesse K., Philadelphia 3-Day

“There are many reasons, but every time I walk the list of reasons continues to expand. I started participating in the walks with my mom Jane when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I did this to support my mother in the efforts to help eliminate breast cancer from people’s lives. As I walked with my mom each year I began to realize that we were not just walking to help fight breast cancer, but also for support. This support was something that helped my mom through her journey with breast cancer. This support for my mom came from deepening her friendship with established friends, meeting new friends and sharing stories and emotionally supporting each other through their journeys. These things were accomplished through the 3-Day walk and I don’t think there is another situation that could have facilitated such a supportive and understanding network of people. These people helped keep a smile on my mom’s face and passion to fight in her heart until breast cancer eventually took her life. Until my mom passed I didn’t fully appreciate this network of support.

While walking this past year for the first time after my mom had passed I did a lot of reflecting and realized that this support network of 3-Day friends was just as important to my journey as it was to my mom’s. I will continue to walk because every year I make new friends who help keep a smile on my face and passion in my heart despite the heartbreak I have experienced. These amazing people are also added to the list of reasons why I walk. I hope that I am as supportive and motivational for them as they are for me.”

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Kimberly C., Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

“In 2012 I joined the Youth Corps when my mom first started walking. At the time, I joined for three people in my life.

I was named after my mom’s best friend, Kim, who passed away from breast cancer in 2000 at the age of 39. She lived just long enough to see me born. I don’t have any memories of her personally but her family has become an extension of mine. Her mother is like a grandmother to me and her children are like cousins. All the stories I’ve ever heard about her just highlight how amazing of a woman she was, and it just isn’t fair that she left us so soon.

I also joined because of my Aunt Kay. She also passed away from breast cancer and I never really got the chance to know her. I love it when my cousins share stories about her, and it just emphasizes the fact that yet another person was taken too early from this world.

At the time, I also joined the Youth Corps because of my Great Aunt Julia, who I called Dudu. Before I was born she had battled breast cancer and won, and had been in remission for almost 15 years. About two months before the 2012 Dallas/Fort Worth event, her breast cancer came back. To me, it was a sign that this event was a necessity.

For three years I was on the Dallas/Fort Worth Youth Corps, and in 2015 I finally walked my first walk. Sadly, about a month before the Dallas/Fort Worth event that year, my Great Aunt passed away. That gave me the drive to walk those 60 miles and never give up.

In 2016, my second and third grade teacher, Shawn, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In elementary school, she helped to mold the person that I am, and was quite possibly the best teacher I’ve ever had. Luckily, after a yearlong battle she is officially in remission. I wrote her letters every week to read during chemo and she has always been supportive of me on the 3-Day but now she says she is so thankful. I walk for her.

Since I started walking in 2015, I have walked five events in three cities, and will be walking my 6th and 7th, on my 9th and 10th event. I am 18 now and plan to keep walking until I don’t have a reason to any more.”

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Elizabeth G., Michigan 3-Day

“When I was eight, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, I just knew that she wasn’t home as much and had to go to the hospital for treatments. As she was going through her treatment plan, part of it changed as new research that was done at the University of Michigan, funded by Susan G. Komen, showed that she could have fewer chemotherapy treatments but it would still be effective. This meant that she could have 27 fewer chemotherapy infusions, and was able to be at home for 27 more days than she was supposed to. She finished her treatment plan, and has been considered cured for 11 years.

In 2010, a close family friend started a 3-Day team in my mom’s honor. We went up to Michigan to cheer her on, and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a part of this amazing event. My mom joined the team the next year, but I couldn’t participate as I had to wait a few years more until I turned 16. The year I turned 16, I knew I wanted to walk, I did, and I was hooked. This year will be my 6th event, and I’m so excited. Someone walked for my mom, and now I’m able to walk for someone else. Knowing that the money I raise makes a difference is what keeps me going, and I’m so blessed that I can walk 60 miles with my mom by my side. I walk so that other kids are able to have their mom by their side for all the important events, like my mom can be.”

Are you joining us this year on the 3-Day? Tell us where in the comments!

If you haven’t registered yet, don’t forget to sign up before February 5th so you can get $20 off your registration fee at The3Day.org

A 3-Day Family Affair: Mother’s Day with Heather Morse

Some moms will spend this Mother’s Day weekend at brunch or the spa, on a vacation with their families, or even by simply taking the day to sleep in and relax. For others, including mother and 3-Dayer Heather Morse, this Sunday will mean a town-wide canning event to raise money for her long-time 3-Day team “Cup Crusaders.” Luckily, Heather wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Joined by her family, including three sons aged 16 to 29, Heather will once again be supporting the 3-Day this year, and that includes on Mother’s Day.

Being a mom has shaped much of Heather’s experience with the 3-Day family, including speaking at 3-Day camp in San Diego last year.

“My sons didn’t know I was doing it until that night, but I thought it was important for them to see. I wanted them to see what I was capable of. I wanted them to see the inspiration, and the hope and why it was so important to me.”

That was evident in her speech, where she broke out her 3-Day journey into steps. She walks her initial 8,000 steps for her boys, because they come first in her life. The following steps are for all the other children’s parents who have the disease and everyone with loved ones who are fighting.

“I wanted it to be more impactful and inspirational, but put a little humor in it. I even talked about lunch where you laugh and cry and talk with people. You can feel alone when you have this diagnosis, but ever since I’ve done the 3-Day I’ve had an outlet and a support group to not feel so alone.”

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Her first breast cancer diagnosis came before her involvement with the 3-Day, but once she was re-diagnosed, Heather realized it was something she had to do. She started off by crewing, and then joined a team to walk those 60 miles. After the first few years, her youngest son joined the Youth Corps to support her and last year, all three of her sons walked side-by-side with her as she continues to fight Stage IV breast cancer.

That diagnosis was the original reason she became a part of the 3-Day, because she wanted to meet others also battling Stage IV. She was looking for a “little hope” from a new support system, and the one she found has also become a support group for her boys.

“It has made me feel so proud, and I was so happy that they were getting an outlet as well. It makes me happy for them to see so many cancer survivors, because it gives them hope.”

20170509_122911Hope and passion are something Heather and her family have in spades, as is evidenced by their increasing involvement in the cause. This involvement begins, and continues, with fundraising.

Though her family was involved with her fundraising efforts “since day one,” that fundraising has grown and evolved over the years. In addition to her annual Mother’s Day canning event, Heather and her team also fundraise on their personal social media channels, at local restaurants, and with a motorcycle barbecue.

“We do a motorcycle ride every year where people pay to be part of a guided motorcycle ride, and then there is also a whole BBQ with live music and vendors. We’ve done it for a few years so almost everything is donated, and we raised around $3,500 last year. Then we had a few local companies do a $1,000 match as well, so we end up making even more for our team!”

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The key, she says, is to look professional, and take your fundraising as seriously as possible.

“You need to have posters and signs and dress in pink and present yourself well. Really try to look as legitimate as possible!”

It is the fundraising aspect that makes the 3-Day truly unique in Heather’s eyes.

“It’s amazing the people that you meet and how they touch your lives,” she says. “This raises so much wonderful money, and so much awareness for Stage IV. When you do the fundraising, you meet a lot of people. You touch a lot of people, and they touch you. You learn their stories! And then on the 3-Day you become a family.”

Morse is, of course, lucky to always have her own family on event with her. This is what she is looking forward to most for 2017; seeing her sons walk and captain the Youth Corps again. She can’t wait to watch them succeed along with her friends and breast cancer survivors.

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These wins, and positive successes, are part of what keeps her going year after year.

“The biggest thing in the world, and one of the ways you survive, is keeping your psychological part of your body healthy.  If you keep your mind healthy, that helps keep your body healthy. Being positive and keeping busy and active, I think plays a direct role in your physical health.”

That’s why you’ll see Heather out and moving with her family this weekend, and this coming 3-Day.

A Son’s 60-Mile Tribute: Meet Derek

At the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, we meet all kinds of wonderful people, who each have their own personal reasons for taking on the extraordinary 60 mile journey. For a young man named Derek, from Issaquah, WA, that reason is his mother, Cheryl, who passed away from breast cancer when Derek was just 14 years old. What’s remarkable about this son walking 60 miles in memory of his mother is that Derek is 18 years old–barely 18, in fact, having just turned the corner into “official” adulthood three weeks before the Komen 3-Day in Seattle–and he signed up to walk completely on his own.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk seattle 18 years old derek

Derek shared on his 3-Day® fundraising page, “My mother, Cheryl, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July, 1999. Her cancer metastasized in January, 2005. She showed faith, courage, stamina and humor to get through two seizures, a pharmacy error with her chemotherapy infusion (but rescued by an alert nurse and doctor) and many other trials. Though she fought so bravely for many years, the cancer, combined with a staph infection, ultimately took her life on October 9, 2010. I am participating in the 3-Day event not only to raise money to end this wretched disease, but to honor my mother, the living embodiment of a courageous spirit.”

We met up with this inspiring first-time walker on Saturday night at the Seattle 3-Day, where he was hanging out in the dining tent. We’d been encouraged to seek Derek out after several participants told us about the brave, kind young man they’d met on the route, who had registered all on his own, and not only took on the 60-mile challenge, but also raised a total of $4,800, more than double the required minimum.

“My mom walked the 3-Day about 8 years ago, and then she passed away four years ago. I realized I’d never done anything in honor of her, and I remembered she did the 3-Day. I found out I’d be turning 18 just three weeks before, so I’d be eligible to walk alone, and I decided, hey, this is something I really want to do.”

Derek was pleased that fundraising wasn’t too difficult. He emailed family, friends and neighbors, along with everyone who knew his mom, and asked them to keep forwarding his fundraising link to others. Does Derek have any advice for someone struggling with their fundraising? “Try something new to market yourself, brand it differently, create an event,” he said.

Fundraising was one challenge Derek easily overcame, but how about training? Derek also found success with his training, as he goes to the gym regularly, and notes that he knows the limits of his body. In addition to walking, he crosstrained with some long distance runs, and he recently overcame an ankle injury.

Were there any points during Day 1 or Day 2 where the miles were getting tough, we wondered? “Coming into this, I thought it was more of a mental thing after a while. You will be tired, you will be sore, you will be hurting. You need to challenge yourself. We’re walking for people who are fighting cancer; we can walk a couple more miles,” Derek said.

We asked Derek what his experience had been like, coming into the 3-Day as a new, solo walker? “The experience has been amazing. I came into this not knowing anyone here, figuring I’d make friends. It’s been unreal. The support along the way is crazy. It’s been really nice to have people come up to me, saying, ‘You’re kind of young to be doing this,’ and strike up a conversation.”

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Derek (center) with his brother and dad

Derek received many supportive texts and messages to rally him on, and he was looking forward to seeing his friends at cheering stations on the final day of the Seattle 3-Day. By the time we finished chatting, Derek’s father, Kent, and his brother, Ian, had arrived to show their support.

We asked Derek if he had any closing thoughts for those who have yet to embark on their 60-mile journey. His answer filled us with hope, and demonstrates again the amazing bravery, courage and dedication of our 3-Day family: “Think of all the cancer patients out there who are fighting as hard as they can. They don’t have a choice to fight. They just have to go through it. You have a choice. You can go through this, and it will help them. You can do this.”