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 Piglet Princess Makes Her 3-Day Debut

There’s a group of people on every Susan G. Komen 3-Day® event that you can’t help but notice. It might be their loud, enthusiastic cheering, their impressive helpfulness around pit stops and in camp, or their unmistakable yellow shirts. No matter how the Komen 3-Day Youth Corps kids come to your attention, one thing is certain: they’re a remarkable group of young people.

Last month at the Twin Cities 3-Day, I was excited to see these 10-16 year-old kids out again, as they are always a bright spot on each day, but there was one Youth Corps member in particular whom I simply had to talk to.

Madelynne is a soft-spoken girl from Wisconsin. At 11 years old, she’s one of the younger Youth Corps kids and she seemed a little apprehensive when she was asked if she would mind talking to me for the 3-Day blog (in fact, I had to explain to her what a blog is).

This was Madelynne’s first year on the Youth Corps, but like most Youth Corps kids, her connection with breast cancer goes back longer than any child should have to experience. She has had several family members who have had the disease, including her grandmother who was a 32-year survivor when she passed away a few years ago.Susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk blog twin cities crew youth corps mullet pig

And like most Youth Corps kids, the 3-Day has been a part of Madelynne’s own family history for many years too. Her dad has been a participant for most of her life. She said she doesn’t remember him first getting involved with the 3-Day (he’s been crewing since 2008, with one year of walking; all of his events have been in the Twin Cities, plus one year on the crew in San Francisco) but she knows that he’s kind of a celebrity on the Twin Cities 3-Day.

“Because he’s who?” I asked her. She smiled. “Mullet Pig.

Oh yes, Mullet Pig. You would be hard-pressed to find a Twin Cities 3-Day veteran who doesn’t know this icon of the Route Safety team. He’s out here on his bike, year after year, dressed in all kinds of wacky attire, right down to his signature piggy mask and pink lipstick. I asked Madelynne what she thought of that. Her response was what you’d expect from any daughter whose dad sports a pink tutu and an over-the-shirt bra adorned with stick-on googly eyes: “It’s embarrassing.”

But this is the 3-Day and anything goes out here, fashion-wise. I asked her if she thinks it’s cool at all, or is it just embarrassing, to which she promptly replied, “Yeah, it’s cool too.”

A little bit later in the day, I caught up with Mullet Pig (whose name is Dave on the other 362 days of the year) and shared with him some of my conversation with his little girl.

“She’s quiet,” I said to him. “She is quiet,” he agreed. “She’s very quiet at first, but once she gets comfortable, she starts coming out of her shell. I’ve seen it already, just from Thursday to today [Saturday].” Knowing what a larger-than-life presence Mullet Pig is on the Twin Cities 3-Day, I told him I was surprised at how introverted Madelynne seemed to be, by comparison. He replied, “As we were getting ready for the 3-Day, we were talking. And she knows all about Mullet Pig, and she loves that Dad’s Mullet Pig, but I could sense that she was kind of getting a little nervous. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and she said, ‘I don’t know if I can be like you.’ And I said, ‘You know what? That’s okay. Madelynne, you can be Madelynne if you want to be at the 3-Day, you can be Princess Mullet Pig [the “family” nickname she’s had for years], or you can be anywhere in between. So she’s a little bit in between, I think. And that’s okay. I want to give her the freedom and the support to be her own person. She doesn’t have to be who I am.”570 susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles crew twin cities mullet pig youth corps

It was a real pleasure for me to talk to Dave about his daughter. I have kids too, and I know that it’s a special gift when a parent gets to hear the things their kids have said when they weren’t around. I told Dave what Madelynne said when I asked her what she thinks about what her dad does. Not necessarily how he looks, but what he does out here. Her response was: “He makes sure it’s safe. And he cheers the walkers up.” After being on her feet for a day and a half, Madelynne had admitted to me she was tired and knew that the walkers must be that much more tired. But she said she knows that her dad is really, really good at cheering people up.

Dave smiled at hearing that. “If I can bring smiles to people’s faces, that’s what I do. And if I can pass that on to Madelynne… I hear about it. I hear she’s doing her job. I hear, ‘Oh, Princess Mullet Pig was so cute! We loved her cheers!’ then that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about me, or Mullet Pig, or Mulletude, it’s about inspiring. That’s what it’s all about.”

Separately, I asked Madelynne and Dave to tell me one word that describes the other person. Without hesitation, Madelynne replied, “Awesome.” When I asked Mullet Pig a couple of hours later, I said I wasn’t going to tell him what Madelynne’s word for him was (to my knowledge, he’s just finding it out now). Dave pondered on his word for a few seconds. It’s hard to pick just one, isn’t it, I said. Dave, getting a little bit choked up with Daddy pride, said quietly “It is hard to pick just one,” then said, “All right. Awesome.” I laughed, knowing something he didn’t. The piggy apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, it would seem.

He continued, “I have to say ‘awesome.’ You know, just to see her and see her personality and what she does. She’s so open to suggestions but yet, she’ll take those suggestions and make them her own. As a parent, it’s good to see. As she’s growing up, you know, she’s not my little baby anymore—well, she’ll always be my baby—but she’s growing up, she has her own personality, and that’s what I think is cool about all of this. She grasps the concept of what we do out here. Inspiring people.”susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles crew twin cities mullet pig youth corps

Part 5 of the ABCs of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Crew

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the ABC’s of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Crew! We’ve shared letters A – E, F – J, K – O, P – T, and this week, we’re excited to bring you the final six letters. Please tell us your ideas for each letter here or on Facebook, and share these images with your family and friends. (To see the Komen 3-Day walker version of the ABC’s, click here!)

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer university training

Crew University is a series of recorded, online training sessions designed to get 3-Day® crew members up to speed on what the 3-Day is all about, and provide details about their specific crew jobs. All 3-Day crew members have access to Crew U. in their Participant Centers, and are encouraged to watch the recordings that apply to them before they come to the All Crew Kick-off.

 

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer Every 3-Day crew member is a volunteer (they’re paid in hugs, high fives and heartfelt gratitude) who works all three days of the event, but there are also numerous other volunteer opportunities for folks who may not be able to fulfill the full crew commitment. From outreach and recruitment, to training and motivating participants, to on-event roles and responsibilities, there is a volunteer program to fit your schedule, skills and passions on the 3-Day.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer western shelterTo most walkers, they may just look like pink-covered beacons you see from afar, telling you that you’ve reached a stop at last. But to a 3-Day crew member, these open-air tents, called Western Shelters, are an essential part of the pit stops, grab & go’s and lunch stop. Crew members work together to quickly and safely assemble the structures, ensuring that your beloved grahamwiches are kept shaded.

See also: Walkie-talkies

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer x tent sectionThe 3-Day camp is divided into tent sections to help participants find their little pink homes amidst a sea of tents. Crew members “live” in section X and Y, which are kept a little bit separate from the walker sections (so the crew members, with their early mornings and late nights, don’t bother the sleeping walkers).

See also: eXcellence (one of the “STEPS” that make up the foundation of the 3-Day Crew culture and philosophy)

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer youth corpsThe 3-Day Youth Corps is a select group of young people (10-16 years old) who participate as crew members on the event. The yellow-shirted Youth Corps members attend the entire 3-Day event (accompanied by a small group of adult leaders), camp with the participants and complete a multitude of important tasks both on the route and in camp (the most important of which is enthusiastically cheering on the walkers). The Youth Corps is the only crew team that is required to fundraise; each Youth Corps member must raise at least $500 by the time of their event in order to participate and most kids exceed the minimum by leaps and bounds.

susan g. komen 3-day breast cancer walk crew volunteer zip tiesDuct tape is great, but on the 3-Day, the go-to tools for holding stuff together–from route arrows to pit stop decorations to event signage—are zip ties.

 

We’ve reached the end of the alphabet, but the conversation doesn’t have to stop! Tell us what those 26 letters mean to you, as a walker, crew member or supporter!