Recently on Twitter, I saw a dear friend of mine in our 3-Day family, Mike (@MikePinkShoes), call himself “just a Crew member”. For those who think they don’t know Mike, I can guarantee you’ve seen him in person or in photos posted to Facebook and Twitter. Mike is the jolly man who crews for the Gear and Tent team at various cities on the 3-Day circuit, making sure everyone’s luggage gets safely and securely to and from 3-Day camp. And on his downtime, he dons on a full wig and beard and pink Santa suit to cheer on and inspire 3-Day walkers along the many miles on Day 2, and leaves footprints on the hearts of all survivors who see the message on his T-shirt “Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a Cure”. Yes, Mike is Pink Santa.
As I write this, Mike is finishing up crewing his final 3-Day event of the season in Dallas, his third in 2012, his 14th total 3-Day event. Mike was also the 4th top crew fundraiser in the Dallas event, raising $2,450. He’s given back more to the fight against breast cancer than many do in their entire lifetime. So when I hear someone as kind and altruistic as Mike discount his work, and call himself “just a Crew member”, I must raise my arms in protest, and cry, “Oh, hell no!”
For those who’ve never crewed at a 3-Day event before, here’s a brief snapshot of what it’s like to be a Crew member: you volunteer four days of your time away from home (some teams like Camp Logistics work all four days), often requiring travel if you live in a non-3-Day state like myself, and while there is no fundraising minimum requirement as Walkers have, many still do fundraise right alongside the Walkers, and like Mike, raise above the $2300 Walker minimum. You rise early every morning of the event before the walkers, and often head to bed in your pink tent home long after the Walkers have gone to sleep. Whether you are hauling luggage, serving food, making sure the Walkers stay safe on the route, or cheering the Walkers home, you work extremely hard (to the best of your ability level). Crew members are the volunteer staff of the event, the core cheerleaders for the Walkers, and without them, there would be no 3-Day event for walkers to walk in.
“Crew members are the definition of selfless giving.”
~Jenne Fromm, former National Spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure
I walked in three 3-Day events before I crewed my first event in 2010. Up to that point, I’d always considered myself a Walker only, where the 60 miles was a personal physical challenge I continually wanted to strive for, and was my bold statement in the fight against breast cancer. But, with various other priorities coming up in life, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to dedicate the time needed for training to be a Walker each year, so crewing provided me the opportunity to still give back to the cause, and be a part of this life-changing experience. And through crewing, I’ve experienced amazing things and met incredible people, like Mike, that I might not have had the chance to as a Walker. I’ve witnessed people completely transform and become their best selves through crewing, and myself have grown so much in crewing, and discovered a whole new side of contributing to the cause that I absolutely love. Having been in the shoes of the Walkers (literally), I also have the perspective of knowing just how tough it is to walk those 60 miles, and it has further fueled the energy and support I give to Walkers as a Crew member.
Mike is just one example of the incredible people who Crew the 3-Day event. There’s Alison (@glancz , pictured above with Mike), who crewed in four 3-Day events this year, and just reached a HUGE fundraising milestone in her 3-Day “career” of $30,000. Alison has also walked in past 3-Day events, and as I write this, is probably packing to crew in the Arizona 3-Day next weekend. Her dedication to the cause has been a source of personal inspiration to my own crewing efforts. Then there’s Betsy (@CAColtsFan18), who by the end of this year will have crewed in four events and walked in one, five total events. Simply AMAZING! And I had the honor of crewing beside each of these wonderful people in this year’s Chicago 3-Day event earlier this year. Getting to know them (and the many other awesome people I crewed alongside) has truly taught me the importance of Crew members in the 3-Day community, and changed me for the better.
Walking or Crewing: they are both two totally different yet both amazing experiences that I highly encourage everyone to try both at least once. You will be amazed in what you discover about yourself and how much you grow in just three (or four) days. If you want to make a bold statement in the fight against cancer and make a big impact in helping others, but for whatever reason aren’t able to walk 60 miles, please consider signing up to be Crew member on the 3-Day. We’d love to have you! And did I mention wearing costumes is highly encouraged if you want? Oh yeah, there’s that, too….. And if you can’t commit to crewing 3-4 days, be a volunteer for a day at the event. Our Volunteers are just as crucial as our Crew members, and are like the Crew members’ “relief pitchers” on Day 3, allowing us Crew members to rest after long days of hard work, and celebrate the big finish of the event right alongside the Walkers.
Do you have children that you know would like to get involved in the 3-Day, but aren’t sure how they can? Have them signup to join the Youth Corps! Youth Corps are the “junior” Crew members of the 3-Day, and allows kids from ages 10-16 to help out, give back, and also honor loved ones impacted by cancer. I will never forget how much it meant to me last year when walking the Dallas 3-Day event to see the Youth Corps cheering us on all along the route, and giving hugs as we left lunch. I wish they’d had a program this awesome when I was growing up.
Have you Crewed in a 3-Day event? I’d love to hear about your experience and what crewing means to you in the Comments section below.
The San Diego 3-Day for the Cure event is just 19 days away, and the deadline is approaching to send snail mail to camp. I will be volunteering as a crew member in the San Diego 3-Day on the Gear & Tent team (aka the Duffle Chuckers). The 3-Day crew members are the behind-the-scenes rockstars that work hard all 3 days to make sure the 3-Day event goes smoothly, and that all walkers are kept safe, happy, and healthy on their 60 mile journey. We rise in the morning before the walkers and often head to bed long after the walkers have been sleeping. Like the walkers, we do this all in support of a cure for breast cancer.
I LOVE getting mail at the 3-Day camp. It is the moral support from our friends and family that help keep us motivated during the many miles walked, and many hours of hard work those 3 days. If you are interested in sending me mail at camp, details are listed below. Thank you in advance for your support!
Susan G. Komen 3-Day
ATTN: Nicole Anderson
PO Box 720771
San Diego, CA 92172
Envelopes only, please. No boxes or large packages. Mail must be postmarked no later than November 6th in order to ensure delivery at the 3-Day Camp Post Office.
It’s amazing what can happen in one week’s time. If you’d told me a week ago that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and 3-Day communities would be so divided, I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet here we are: many supporters confused and torn; several having jumped ship; and some surprising new supporters coming out of the woodwork. I myself was sick this past week, so while I haven’t had much time or energy to respond to the situation, I was able to keep an eye on the pulse of the various media, commentary, and backlash around Komen’s decision to change their grant funding requirements. With the wounds still fresh, I’m here to give my take on the situation, and most importantly, why I will continue to support the Komen organization and participate in the 3-Day for the Cure events.
Regarding the specific edict made by the Komen organization (and its reversal on Friday), I haven’t made my own personal decision on which “side” of the issue I agree with, simply because I don’t feel I have enough of the facts right now. Whenever something like this happens, I like to do thorough research, and better understand all of the data before coming to a final conclusion. Regardless of whether I decide to agree with their choices or not, I do remain firm in my position: this event has not changed my support for the Komen organization, nor will I discontinue my participation in the 3-Day for the Cure event. To me, the impact of this pales in comparison to the overall beneficial work the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization has done in the past 30 years and will continue to do for years to come in the fight against breast cancer, an important piece of this debate that I think many have forgotten. For a history lesson behind Komen and all that they’ve accomplished, visit Komen.org or pick up a copy of the book “Promise Me“.
I’m not here to debate the issue of grant funding, nor do I want to instigate any more of the shocking negativity I’ve witnessed in the past week. For today, I am simply here to say that I am “pro-cure”, and will continue to be a proud member of the “Pink People”.
“Don’t let one cloud obliterate the whole sky.” – Anaïs Nin
You might be thinking, “How can she be proud and part of an organization that did such controversial things?” I can easily for two reasons: 1) Having worked in the corporate world for over 13 years, I understand how businesses sometimes have to make tough decisions that might not be popular to the general public; and 2) because of the dignity and respect shown by the Komen organization to the public and their supporters in the past week. I believe that Komen is still dedicated to the fight against breast cancer, and that they are constantly reassessing how their donor money is spent to ensure that they are making the largest impact in finding a cure. This may mean making some difficult changes that many disagree with, but I believe they are doing it for the overall good of the cause.
As for their response each day last week as the opposition grew, while some may say they may not have been “on top” of things from a PR standpoint, I felt that Komen responded actively, and more importantly positively. While the CEO and founder of Susan G. Komen, Nancy Brinker publicly released a video addressing the issue (update: the video has since been removed), as a member of the 3-Day community of volunteers, I received a separate email from the organization that not only reassured me of the organization’s continued commitment in the the fight against breast cancer but also recognized the great effort we 3-Day volunteers go through in our commitment to the organization.
Here’s a small excerpt from that 3-Day email:
“No group associated with Susan G. Komen for the Cure works harder than all of you who participate in the 3-Day. The energy and passion you demonstrate through involvement with the 3-Day is an inspiration to all of us. Regardless of the ongoing debate, we need to step back and remember why we all got involved in the first place. We are united in our energy and our passion to eradicate breast cancer. What can never be debated is that our fight against breast cancer cannot be sidetracked. On that we know we all stand together and we thank you for your shared commitment.”
A smart tactic in damage control, perhaps, but as a person who’s devoted the past six years to fundraising, walking, and crewing with the 3-Day for the Cure event, I really appreciated being directly addressed, and recognized during this challenging week. While some have chosen to part ways with the 3-Day for the Cure and Komen over the hot issue, for those of us that still remain as supporters and committed, we will have an even harder uphill battle now with fundraising and recruitment given the extra negativity and dissension this situation has brought on, so receiving this simple message means a lot to those of us that haven’t wavered. As someone whose loved ones have been impacted by cancer, I am passionate about being a part of the cure, and believe I can have a greater impact by being a part of such a large force in the fight against cancer as Komen. And being a part of the 3-Day for the Cure event is about the biggest, boldest, and most positive statement you can make in this fight.
“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” – Booker T. Washington
I’ve seen a lot of negative comments and actions towards the Komen organization in the past week, some constructive criticism, but most destructive, bordering on bullying. I respect and support anyone’s position and decision in this debate, however I draw the line when the commentary becomes abusive and slanderous. I was particularly saddened this past week to see some of it come from within our own 3-Day community, who are some of the strongest advocates for the organization. Aside from the organization itself, Nancy Brinker, the CEO and founder of Komen who in the memory of her sister has spent the past 32 years of her life dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer (also a BC survivor herself), came under harsh attack, some of the comments being downright disrespectful to her and her sister. Ms. Brinker is a personal hero of mine, so it does pain me to see all of this negativity thrown her way given all that she has sacrificed and done for the world. While being completely unproductive, it also taints and mars the history of an organization and woman who have helped saved so many lives, some I’ve had the honor of walking with in the 3-Day.
Thankfully, I witnessed some people (including local Komen affiliates) address the issue in a productive fashion by posting petitions to Facebook and Twitter, and sending emails to Komen if they felt the decision needed to be reconsidered. My heart hopes that these constructive actions are what ended up influencing the change on Friday to reverse their original decision. However my gut fears that all of the negativity and bashing is what really made it happen.
Unfortunately, even with the original decision reversed, it’s left a dark shadow over the organization and those of us left who continue to support them. Today on Twitter I heard the following story of what a Komen supporter experienced when wearing a pink ribbon shirt to the store:
“I was innocently making a salad when a woman came up to me, said, ‘This is what I think of you,’ and grabbed my salad and dumped it on the ground.”
Grade school bullying antics aside, what people like this don’t realize is that for those of us that are truly dedicated in the fight against cancer, we are strong, passionate, and unwavering. We knew joining the battle that it wouldn’t be an easy road, and we’ve faced adversity in the past. We’ve already experienced the hurt and pain that comes with cancer. So these actions will not stop us. However, we are a group that is based on love and positivity, so if you don’t agree with or support us, then let us be to continue the fight on our own. We respect your beliefs and decisions, so please respect ours. Your negativity is only a distraction and taking away time and energy that could be spent productively elsewhere in making a difference.
To my wonderful donors over the years, I thank you for all of your generosity. You can rest assured that your donations in the past have helped out tremendously in the fight against breast cancer (visit last year’s Report Card for more details). If you choose to no longer support the Komen organization and my 3-Day fundraising efforts, I completely support and respect your decision. If however, you continue your support and contributions in the future, I thank you in advance, and sincerely appreciate your help on this journey in the fight against cancer. You are making a difference!
To my fellow 3-Day participants, I know we’ve had a challenging week. To those who’ve decided to withdraw your participation and support, I also respect your decision, and don’t doubt that it was a tough one to make. To those who choose to continue participating in the 3-Day with me, I am honored to walk and crew beside you, and look forward to the inspiring journey we have ahead.
To those that are still on the fence and undecided, please make your choice carefully. The 3-Day world is one of love, respect, courage, positivity, and inspiration. There is no room or place for negativity. If you cannot leave any differences or negativity you feel behind, then perhaps it’s time to hang up your walking shoes. Because the 3-Day world is such an amazing experience, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to walk away. But we need people that are 100% dedicated. If you no longer feel that way, thank you for your time and past efforts. Please excuse the rest of us as we continue the fight. There is much more work to be done.
And for anyone who’s interested in making a bold statement against breast cancer, consider joining the 3-Day community, and signing up for a 3-Day event this year. We’d love to have you! Learn more about the event in the video below.
Walking in the 3-Day for the Cure is an amazing and inspiring experience. But it is also taxing physically and mentally, particularly if you are away from home. Thanks to the good people at Komen, supporters, friends, and family can send us mail on the event so that we can still have a connection to home, and get that extra little nudge of inspiration that helps push us those extra miles. For me, I LOVE getting mail at camp. While I pick it up the first night at camp, I save cards to open so that each morning, before I start walking, I get a dose of inspiration before walking 20 miles. Cards and letters from supporters help keep me motivated mentally, particularly on Day 2, which is for me the most challenging day.
So to all my supporters out there, if you have the time (and stamps), I would love to get mail during my walks this year. The address for Dallas hasn’t been published yet, but the deadline is approaching for Seattle. Details on where to send your mail and the deadline for the Seattle walk are listed below. Once Dallas is published, I’ll update this post.
Send letters to:
3-Day for the Cure
ATTN: Nicole Anderson
P.O. Box 22636
Seattle, WA 98122
Envelopes only, please. No boxes or large packages. Mail must be postmarked no later than September 6th in order to ensure delivery at the 3-Day Camp Post Office. Please note: This address is not the actual location of camp, but a PO Box for mail delivery only. Any mail that is not received by the 3-Day by the date above or retrieved by the participant by October 2nd will be destroyed.
Thank you for your support!
Author’s Note: These recommendations are based purely on my personal experience in using these products. I in no way profit from another’s purchase of these items (i.e. affiliate links, etc). Of course if the product companies should decide to sponsor my 3-Day walk efforts by making a donation, I would not object.
During my 3-Day walking training season in 2009, I posted some favorite finds for products that I found helpful and often essential to both my training and while on the 3-Day event itself. I took last year off from walking and instead Crewed, but this year I am back in full force, walking in TWO 3-Day events (Seattle and Dallas). Given the lag time in between the events, it’s meant a lengthy training schedule this year (31 weeks instead of the standard 24), and my year off gave me just enough temporary amnesia to not only relearn the “dos and don’ts” of proper training but also try out some new products (and renew my love of some old favorites). Here are some gems I found this year (and past items that still ROCK) that I highly recommend depending on your needs (and pocketbook of course).
No changes from my last review, my favorite socks still are Gizmo socks hands down. Aside from their cool and funky designs, their thinner Coolmax style help keep your feet cooler and less-blister prone. AND, given my above issue mentioned above with occasional ankle soreness from my shoes, they have styles that fit higher up your ankle and protect it. Again, I have wider feet, so thick socks aren’t going to work for me. Combine these bad boys with BodyGlide (see that product feedback further down the page), and I reduced my blister risk greatly, which was a HUGE problem for me my first year. I still get the occasional small blister in spots, but much less and often due to other reasons (i.e. I missed a spot with BodyGlide, my sock was twisted when I put it in my shoe, etc.) I also carry 1-2 spare pairs of these socks on longer walks when my feet are in need of rejuvenation.
You can purchase them directly from Gizmo Socks website, but I’ve also seen them sometimes available at various race expos (like marathons).
Yeah, I went there. For anyone who doesn’t think this matters, take your regular undies for a test drive on an 18 mile walk, and see how they fare. If they are not high performance/quick dry underwear, they will likely do one or two things: trap your sweat the entire walk and stick your body as tight OR chafe in not-so-pleasant spots. Yes, this has happened to me more recently than I’d like to admit as a “veteran” walker. It doesn’t mean that this will necessarily happen to you, but in a recent test training walk between my normal undies and a performance pair, the performance pair won hands down for me in the areas of comfort under sweaty conditions and anti-chafe.
There are many different brands of performance underwear out there for men and women, but the one I’ve tried and really liked so far is the Ex Officio brand. Specifically I tried the Give-N-Go Bikini Briefs, but there are many different styles available depending on your body type and style preference. They are pricey, but well worth the money. REI carries them, and if you are fortunate to have them as a 3-Day Outfitter in your city, you can get a 20% off discount by bringing in a copy of your donation form in with you.
The method 3-Day walkers carry their beverages varies across the spectrum. To set the scene appropriately, I am of the sherpa, backpack-carrying variety. Particularly during training, I want to have everything I could possibly want/need on me in case of emergency, including water and electrolytes. While this approach has caused mockery from my teammates in the past (at a team celebration, we played a game called “Guess what’s in Nicole’s Backpack), whom do you think they go to when they need a bandaid, sunscreen, hibachi (not really)? That’s right.
Having used the same hydration backpack for the last 7-8 years (water bladder replaced during that period), I decided to break down and get a new one. Since I am a big fan of the Camelbak products, I opted for another Camelbak hydration pack called the Aventura. Specifically designed for a woman’s frame, it’s liquid capacity was a nice upgrade (100 oz.), it had better organized storage compartments, a waterproof compartment on top (GREAT for cell phones, cameras, etc in the rain), and a drinking tube that easily snapped in and out of the bladder, making it easier to clean. Apparently the design and usability of their products has improved a LOT over the years since I’d last bought one. It was a “Flintstones meet the Jetsons” moment for me when I tested out the cool, new features.
There are many different styles of Camelbak and other brand hydration backpacks, so I encourage you to go into an outdoor speciality store, like REI, and see how what style works for you. Aside from the above mentioned 3-Day Outfitter discount at select REI stores, they have a great policy where if you are not satisfied with the product you purchased (even if you take it for a test walk), you can return it for a full refund. I managed to get mine at a great discount this year by using my REI dividend when it was also on sale. Another great tip I learned from another 3-Day walker was to watch the online REI Outlet store where you can get some of last year models of hydration packs for as much as 50% off.
I also like to carry an extra bottle in my backpack so I can have an electrolyte-enhanced drink easily available. I tend to mix my own beverage, so a reusable bottle works best (and is better for the environment!). Like the backpack I am partial to the Camelbak bottles (much to do with the bite and sip valve), and the model I have found that works well for carrying my sports drink is their insulated Better Bottle. I’ve tried both styles, metal and plastic, and have settled on the plastic. While it doesn’t keep things cold as long as the metal, it is lighter, so less weight to carry those long miles. And it’s dishwasher safe!
MP3 and Headphones
I do a lot of solo training, so having a reliable MP3 player with a variety of listening options is crucial for me to help pass the time and add extra motivation. I happened to win an iPod Nano in a contest last year. At first I thought it would make a great giveaway/raffle item for raising donations, but after reviewing the features and much like my Camelbak situation, my existing iPods were a 4 year-old Shuffle with minimal features and an older and bulky previous-gen iPod classic, I decided to keep it to use on training walks. BEST DECISION EVER!! You have so many options to available to listen to: music, podcasts, audiobooks, normal FM radio, and even a built-in pedometer feature that connects to the Nike+ website. And it’s small design and clip on feature make it perfect to clip on to your clothing or hydration pack of choice. I don’t use the pedometer feature as I use a different iPhone app for tracking my mileage, but love being able to have a lot of different options available to listen to depending on my mood.
Finding earbuds that fit and are comfortable for long periods of time and that don’t fall out easily has been a challenge for me, but after trying out several different styles I struck gold with the JVC HAEBX85P Inner Ear Sports Clip Headphones. They are lightweight inner earbuds that come with various sizes of clear, silicon covers, and a soft, flexible wrap around the ear fit so that they stay on your ears well, but you barely feel them. And the most important feature I found? They come in PINK! They are also fairly inexpensive (under $20).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Safety on training walks is one of the MOST important things. Because of this, I only keep one earbud in my ear at all times so that I can be aware of my surroundings at all times. It has saved me from being run over by bikers more times than I can count. I highly recommend this approach if you choose to listen to any MP3 player.
Other Good Stuff
The first year I walked in the 3-Day, I learned a LOT about the do’s and dont’s of proper feet preparation and the anatomy of my feet. I had two persistent challenges my entire training season that I was facing: blisters and bruising in between my toes. After much trial and error (including my shoe and sock discoveries mentioned above), and a trip to the doctor, I discovered two products that I while may seem minor, are one of the keys to my feet surviving walking long distances: BodyGlide and Corn Cushions.
I am sure most of you reading this are familiar with BodyGlide, and its anti-chafing benefits. I myself use it liberally on various areas on my body where I tend to chafe on long distance walks, particularly greater than 10 miles. But it wasn’t until I saw another person applying it directly to her feet when I realized it’s blister prevention goodness. Because of my blister challenges my first year, I am extra wary about trying a new product on my feet. One really bad blister and it can set you back in training. But once I tried BodyGlide on my feet, it was like the heavens opened up, trumpets played, and angels sang. If you’ve ever had to continue walking with blisters on the BOTTOM of your feet, then you can understand my spiritual experience here in this discovery for blister prevention. I apply it on my feet before a walk, and then as needed during the walk if I feel any hot spots coming on or need a sock change.
As for the Corn Cushions, these were recommended by my doctor when I had chronic bruising (and occasional blisters) in between my two smallest toes. He said it was because my toes were curved such that they were rubbing against each other when I walked longer distances. The pain got so severe I honestly thought I’d broken my toes (hence the trip to the doctor). Corn Cushions became a lifesaver! They are basically a cloth that wraps around your toes with a thick silicon gel pad that goes between your toes. Since I started using them, the pain has been drastically reduced. While the manufacturer states you can wash them by hand with soap and water for reuse, I’ve tried multiple times and they just don’t bounce back to the same form as their first use and add risk of blisters. So they are a one time use item for me. However, having shorter toes, I am able to cut them in half and use 1 for both feet. It’s not a cheap habit unfortunately given the volume of walking I do in a 3-Day training season, but I found a wonderful distributor through Amazon called Colonial Medical Assisted Devices where I can buy them cheap ($3.50 for a 2-pack, shipping is extra) and in large quantities. They also sell them at various stores with pharmacies, such as Walgreens and Target. If you find you are having similar challenges during walking, you might give them a try to see if they add any comfort.
To ensure that I replenish any electrolytes lost during walking, I carry snacks and a beverage designed specifically for this. Having tried to eat more organic and sugar-free foods, I discovered this year two products in these categories containing electrolytes that I’ve found to work well for me during long training walks: Sharkies and Nuun Tabs. Sharkies are organic fruit sports chews that also happen to be gluten, wheat, and nut free. They are great for an energy boost and electrolyte replacement. I discovered them at REI (where you can get them at a 20% discount by buying them in quantities of 12 or more), but you can get boxes of them directly from Sharkies. Nuun tabs are sugar-free, low calorie, electrolyte-enhanced tabs you can add to 10 ounces of water for a quick and convenient sports drink. They come in a variety of flavors and in a compact tube that may it easy for carrying with you. You can purchase them directly from Nuun, or retailers like biking and running stores, and REI.
Have some favorite training aids you can’t live without? Leave your own great finds in the comments and share with others!