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13 to walk in Breast Cancer 3-Day

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By Vicky Gits

The 3-Day is a grueling event that entails walking 20 miles a day without benefit of iPods or even cell phones, except for an emergency. Participants commit to three days of pounding pavement with 1,000 other women, as well as sleeping overnight in a closed campground, where they shower in communal facilities and chow down on provided meals. No family support is allowed.

Although the event has been held annually in other cities around the country since 2004, this is the first time it will take place in Denver. The goal is to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which funds research and community outreach. This year the organization is sponsoring 3-Days in 15 cities between July and November.

Since its inception, the 3-Day has generated $110 million in contributions, according to the 3-Day website, www.the3day.org. Each participant must bring in a minimum of $2,300.

“This is an unbelievable experience,” said Risa Holmes of Evergreen, who founded Team Colorado in 2004. This year Team Colorado has grown to 46 people, including one man, and the group hopes to raise at least $100,000 for cancer research. About 1,000 participants have signed up for this year’s Denver event.

“What makes it amazing is the people are out there cheering you on every step of the way,” said Holmes, 43, a mother of two who had 15 family members and friends diagnosed in one 18-month period.

“Now it’s just epidemic,” Holmes said. “I was in my daughter’s class in middle school. In a class of 28, three kids had mothers who had been diagnosed.” Last year she did the walk in San Diego.

“I walked with someone who was in a wheelchair and going through chemo. She died two weeks later. I figured if she was out there for the cause, I can work a little bit harder and raise a little bit more,” Holmes said. The Denver 3-Day will be Holmes’ fourth outing.

Evergreen resident Chris Dodge, a mother of two, was diagnosed with breast cancer two and a half years ago and has signed up for her first 3-Day event this year.

Not a regular exerciser, Dodge has worked her way up to 18 miles in one day so far. She has walked from Bergen Park to Evergreen Lake and often walks the loop around The Ridge. The 18 miles produced a serious case of blisters, which have to be dealt with before the big day.

“I know a lot of people on the team and have supported them, and just felt it was my time to give,” Dodge said. “It felt like the thing to do. I didn’t think through all the details. I’m sure it will be hard. But it’s nothing compared to having cancer.” So far she has collected almost $4,000 in contributions.

“I’m a mammogram poster child,” said Dodge, who was diagnosed after a routine annual mammogram provided by Kaiser Permanente. She had a lumpectomy and six and half weeks of radiation. “I believe in it. I wouldn’t have had what I consider a relatively easy treatment process if they hadn’t found it so soon.” She completed the radiation treatment two years ago.

What helped her get through it?

“The number of people who reached out to me. We have a large, caring ministry at Rockland (Community Church),” where Dodge works full time.

“I got hundreds of cards and food from people. Some of whom were survivors. … You would be surprised how much a little card can mean. It takes a little time but can have a huge impact. … I didn’t work full time during the process, and my family was huge in picking up the pieces. I couldn’t have done it without the flexibility to do less. That meant I could focus on the treatment and the healing. I’m so excited to be a survivor,” Dodge said.

This year’s Denver Breast Cancer 3-Day starts at the Colorado Mills shopping center and goes through Lakewood, Littleton, Centennial and Cherry Hills, concluding in City Park. The camp is set up at Clement Park in South Jeffco.

The best way to contribute to the local team is to make out a check to “Breast Cancer 3-Day.” Mail it to Team Colorado, 1408 Brighton Court, Evergreen CO 80439. For information, contact Risa Holmes at 303-679-1224.

3-Day facts

• 15 percent of the net proceeds from the Breast Cancer 3-Day benefit the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer fund, a special field of interest fund that will provide support for breast cancer initiatives, including research, treatment, prevention and education.

• Susan G. Komen for the cure is the world’s largest source of nonprofit funds to fight breast cancer in the world. It has invested more than $1.2 billion to find a cure for cancer.

• The 2008 Breast Cancer 3-Day Series, which took place in 14 cities, rased $110 million. Of that, more than $79 million was invested in cancer-related programs and services. Fund-raising and management expenses constituted 28 percent of the money raised.

Evergreen 3-Day Garage Sale

When: Saturday, Aug. 15

Where: 1380 Prouty, in front of The Ridge at Hiwan

All funds to go to team member fund-raising.

Evergreen participants, Denver Breast Cancer 3-Day

Catherine Bernardo survivor

Nancy Brown crew survivor

Robert Brown crew

Jan Buenning survivor

Kat Cootware team volunteer

Chris Dodge survivor

Michele Homburger survivor

Caroline Kline

Kim Levine

Mimi Levine

Risa Holmes

Linda Menshing

Olivia Meythaler