When I was nine, breast cancer didn’t mean much to me beyond knowing that my mom was sick. But as the years progressed, I started to understand more about what cancer was and how lucky our family was that my mom was healthy again.
Part of this understanding was developed from my mom’s participation in the Avon (and later Susan G. Komen) 3-Day walks: sixty miles of walking over three days to raise money for breast cancer. By 2005, she had either walked or crewed five different events.
The minimum age for participation in the 3-Day is 16, so by the time I was 15, I knew I would be participating in a walk the following year. We formed a team of walkers called 4H: Horned Hoofers for Healthy Hooters. The team consisted of me, my mom, my mom’s best friend Arlene, my best friend Lindsey, Arlene’s daughter Erin, and a woman named Barbie who worked with Arlene.
It was so nice to have an experienced walker (my mom) to organize all of our training walks. Our schedule was pretty consistent: during the week, Lindsey, Mom and I would try to do at least two short, local walks. On the weekend we would meet as a group to do longer walks. The location of these longer walks often varied: sometimes we would walk around San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito; other times we’d go on hikes around nature preserves in the Bay Area.
Besides training, I also had to fundraise. In order to walk, I needed to raise $2,200. This was the tricky part, but I made it work. I wrote letters to friends and family giving information about the event and discussing how breast cancer had impacted my life. People who wished to donate could either do so via snail mail or online. My friends and family came through with flying colors, graciously helping me to pass the goal of $2,200.
The actual Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day was in San Diego in November of 2006. At the start of our training a year earlier it seemed like walking twenty miles a day for three days was an impossible goal to reach, but by the time we made it down to San Diego, it was reality. Five to seven mile training walks had been replaced by sixteen to nineteen mile treks, and we were ready to go!
The 3-Day was amazing. Seriously, if anyone is considering walking you should do it, it’s so much fun. San Diego was a great location; the walking route was beautiful! And the community embraced us…there were supporters on the sidelines, handing out popsicles, pins, beads–even wine! At night, we camped out in tents. Hot meals were provided for us, and there was even a shower truck!
Even though my feet hurt and I developed blisters, I kept walking throughout those three days because of the rush of adrenaline I got:
- People were cheering me on everywhere I turned.
- There were cute bike cops from San Jose riding alongside us.
- If I really wanted a break I could hop into a “sweep” vehicle that was decorated with boobs and would drop me off a mile further along the route.
- The snacks were delicious.
- Sometimes we’d walk by the beach and see shirtless surfers…Lindsey and I always cheered.
All in all, it was a pretty good deal: raise a couple thousand dollars in order to have the time of your life!
Our team loved it so much that we decided to walk again in 2009. This time it was a bit less organized; I was at USC, Lindsey was at UCSB, and Mom and Arlene were in Northern California. We didn’t have the luxury of a consistent training schedule, but we made it work! Our new team name for the 2009 event was Doppelgangers.
Throughout all of the 3-Day events my mom and I have participated in, our combined contribution to breast cancer research has been over $40,000. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our friends and family. All in a 3-Day’s work!