What IS the 3-Day?

30 06 2010

The following explanation of the 3-Day was written by 3-Day for the Cure Ambassador Jay Furr. Most of the post is beloiw, but if you want to read it on Jay’s site, you can read it  here. I was inspired to write my own explanation, but Jay did such a great job, I’m borrowing it. Thanks Jay!

Once you understand what, exactly, the 3-Day for the Cure is, please support me on my 3-Day journey and donate on my fundraising page: www.the3day.org/goto/AmyTeeple

Thanks! Happy reading …

So here’s a go at answering that question: “What is the 3-Day”?

Let me start by saying, what is it NOT?

It’s not a race. 

I happened to be wearing a “Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure” shirt at church the other day and had a fellow churchgoer look at me and ask “Have you been in the race?” I suspect she was thinking of the Race for the Cure, which is also Komen-affiliated, but not the same thing. The Race is a 5K fitness run; the 3-Day is about twenty times the distance and trust me, you’re not running that.

And it’s not some sort of weird “Last Woman Walking” stamina test. People sometimes get the idea that this three-day, sixty-mile walk is some sort of endurance battle. I’ve literally been asked if we’re allowed to drink or eat while on the walk… and once I was even asked “Do they let you take breaks?” Yeah, no, it’s not some sort of weird reality show contest, people. It’s not a horror show out of Stephen King where we stagger blindly onwards, dropping out one by one until one remaining pink-clad zombie lurches over the finish line in the glare of flashbulbs.

Might get more TV coverage if it was.

Hmm.

Okay, no.

The 3-Day isn’t about endurance and it’s sure as heck not a race. It’s first and foremost about grit, determination, and making a difference. Making a difference by showing friends and family and acquaintances that you’re willing to go to a lot of effort in return for their donations toward the incredibly important cause of finding a cure for breast cancer. I mean, let’s get real: if I told a bunch of people that I’d be ever so grateful if they ponied up the downpayment on a Porsche Boxster to help cure breast cancer just because I thought it’d be a really spiff-tacular thing to do I doubt I’d raise all that much money. But tell people you’re going to go walk sixty miles over three days, camping in a tent two nights, while dressed from head to toe in fetching shades of fuchsia and cerise and hot pink, and tell them you have to raise $2,300 in order to do just that, they’re going to go “Hmm. How much did you want me to donate?”

Okay, then they’re going to go “And where will we be able to see photographic proof?”, but that’ll probably be a bit after the “and who do we make the check out to?”

Trust me: it works.

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure is a three-day event, held in fifteen cities across the USA, where participants walk about twenty miles each day. It usually works out that one or two of the days is a bit more than twenty miles and in exchange, the last day is usually a bit less. Having a fifteen mile walk on the last day helps the thing wrap up by a reasonable time in the afternoon so we can all get together at the finish line for a big celebratory PAR-TAY and then head home to a strange land where people DON’T cheer you when you walk by on the street and where people aren’t all wearing pink.

Or, to put it another way, it’s not three twenty-mile walks… it’s twenty three-mile walks. You start at a big outdoor opening ceremony where we throw everything at you short of Shamu leaping through three giant pink flaming hoops while whistling a medley of 1980s pop hits. Then you walk three miles along city sidewalks and streets. Then you stop at a “pit stop” and people you don’t even know press cookies and bananas and Smuckers “Uncrustables” at you and pat you on the back and tell you how great you are. Then you walk three more miles. Then more Uncrustables. Then you walk three MORE miles. You’re probably expecting even MORE Uncrustables at this point but no, we fake you out. This time you get lunch. Then you walk three more miles and maybe, just for variety, you get granola bars and orange slices and if you ask nice, some people will dump ice down your back to cool you off, especially if it’s a hot day or you look like the kind of person who misses their sorority or fraternity hazing experiences. Then three more miles, then more snacks, then three more miles, and then you get to camp in a big seaof hot pink two-person tents. WOO!

And if along the way you can’t make it because you simply become too tired, or it’s so hot you’re melting in your shoes, or your blisters become so large you start giving them names — well, then, there are sweep vans and buses to take you to the next pit stop or to lunch or to camp. We want everyone to finish together even if they can’t walk every inch of the route. I mean, some people practically come out of the chemo ward to walk the 3-Day: we’re not going to say “HEY SLOWPOKE, GET BACK ON YER FEET AND KEEP MOVING.”

If we did, they’d probably beat us up. Most of them are tougher than us. So there’s that.

Oh, and throughout the day you get all the Gatorade you can drink. Various flavors. And if you mix them all together to make what we used to call “Bug Juice” when I was in the Girl Scouts (long story), no one’s going to make fun of you. It’s expected. Being silly is good.

I think you’ve gathered already that it’s kind of important to wear a lot of pink during the walk. I didn’t mention the rest, though … and I almost feel like I shouldn’t, because it’s entirely possible that you — yes, you — might one day decide to come walk a 3-Day and I’d hate to ruin the surprise for you when you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of women all wearing 46-DDDD bras on the outside of their clothing. And not necessarily in the usual place, either. Sometimes on their heads. Sometimes other places.

And then there’re the guysLess said, the better.

This goes on for three days. In between all the walking there’s lots of other stuff going on: spontaneous hugs, people stopping to stretch or treat blisters, people bursting into song while dressed like Goofy and Snow White and, for a reason I never entirely understood, Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders. You get to use all the port-o-jons you want, no charge. You get to sleep in a hot pink tent. Really. The 3-Day folks used to use regular old camp tents for the event, but decided it was more thematic to get pink ones, tents they give away to local non-profits after each walk. Lots of Girl Scout troops have surplus 3-Day pink tents. Not so many Boy Scout troops, but I imagine if the interest was there something could be worked out. There’s even karaoke.

Surprisingly good karaoke, actually. Seriously.

But in the end, despite all the silliness and whimsy, there’s a very serious undercurrent of absolute stone-cold seriousness. When you meet a walker who’s got the photographs of each and every friend and family member they’ve lost to breast cancer pinned to their shirt — and youcan’t really tell what color their shirt is… when you groan at the sight of a huge hill on the route and a scrawny, eighty-pounds-soaking-wet grandmother with no hair as a result of chemotherapy and radiation looks at you and says “it beats the hell out of chemo!” and powers right onup that hill… and when you walk into the Remembrance Tent at camp one evening and see people you’ve been laughing with all day bawling their eyes out as they write notes about loved ones they’ve lost to cancer… well, then, you realize that the fight against breast cancer is no laughing matter at all.

As I said above it’s really about the grit and determination… the will to do something that matters.

I mean, get serious. When’s the last time most people really did something that made a huge difference, a huge positive difference in the lives of other people… not just people they know and look out for, but in the lives of people they’ll never know, never meet, people yet unborn?

Not real often, unfortunately. We go to work, we go home, we watch TV, we go to bed. Along the way we eat way too much unhealthy food and care way too much about stuff that in the end doesn’t make a lick of difference in whether the world is a better place at the end of the day.

Sure, it’s not the walking we do on the 3-Day that finds a cure for breast cancer. Okay, the publicity sure as heck doesn’t hurt, because let’s face it, no one wants to go back to the day 25 and 30 years ago where women and men with breast cancer just didn’t talk about it because it was considered a shameful topic to bring up. The more conversations we start about it, the better, even if we have to be damn silly along the way. But yeah, walking doesn’t cure breast cancer and publicity doesn’t cure breast cancer, although it may help raise awareness and get people doing more to look out for themselves and get examined and treated before it’s too late.

So what does cure breast cancer? What’s the real goal of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure?

How does close to $90,000,000 raised in 2010 for the fight against breast cancer sound? How does FIVE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS raised by 3-Day events since 2003 sound? With promising clinical trials and research studies going on all around the country, that kind of funding can have some serious bang for the buck. A cure for breast cancer, or at least a vaccine against breast cancer, is actually possible. In our lifetimes.

And that, my friends, is what the 3-Day is all about. A lifetime for everyone, a lifetime without fear of breast cancer. A world without breast cancer for our wives, for our sisters, for our mothers, for our daughters, for ourselves, and for the future.

That’s what the 3-Day all comes down to in the end: A WORLD WITHOUT BREAST CANCER.

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