There seems to be a lot of frustration around the 3 Day community this week. Cat, who writes the wonderful Fat Girl Walkin' blog wrote about the lack of support coming from some negative corners of her life. Janice of Athena's Armoury is battling with plantar fasciitis in her feet and is concerned about actually being able to walk in the fall. And I've been dealing with a pretty disappointing turn of events in our team fundraising. It just seems like the initial euphoria of the 3 Day is starting to wear off and the reality of this huge challenge that we've all taken on is becoming more clear: actually completing the 3 Day is seriously hard work.
As we all know, there are two huge things that every 3 Day walker is trying to accomplish. We're each trying to raise at least $2300 and we're each trying to get through those 60 miles. Along the way, we will all stumble at some point. There will be some people who fall short of their fundraising goals. People will need to catch a ride on a sweep van. Injuries will keep people from participating on the event. No one sets out to fall short of their goals, but the truth is, stuff happens. Not everyone will raise all $2300 and not everyone will walk all 60 miles. That is the reality of the situation.
That being said, just because you may not reach the goals that you originally laid out for yourself does not make your participation in the 3 Day any less important. As I titled this post, much like life, the 3 Day is a journey, not a destination. It is in pursuing those goals that we are truly making a difference!
So let's say that you fall short of your fundraising goal. Every dollar that you raise, whether you make it to $2300 or not, is going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and will be used to fund potentially life-saving biomedical research. As a scientist myself, I am here to tell you that science isn't funded in $2300 increments. It's paid for one dollar at a time. A box of gloves costs less than $5. A giant tub a sodium chloride, an important component is almost every buffer used in every lab everywhere can be had for less than $100. Parafilm, eppendorf tubes, Kimwipes and other strange sounding things are cheap but critical things that are used by labs every where. Labs cannot function without this stuff. And it goes the other way too - science often costs more than $2300 at a time. Our microscopes and machines are EXPENSIVE. The $1500 or $500 or even just $50 that you raised will be combined with all the other money raised by 3 Day walkers to help fund research that not one of us could possibly pay for by ourselves. In the end, it doesn't matter if you fall short of your fundraising goals. If you have raised even $5 through your efforts, you have made a difference. As my mom says, it takes millions of tiny rain drops working together to fill the bucket.
And what about walking the whole 60 miles? Sure, we all want to be able to say that we walked the whole 60 miles. That's why we do all this training. But the whole point of getting out on the streets is to be seen and to raise awareness for this important cause. We may be more visible for those three days, but that's still only three days. Most of us will be out training for months, and often for hours on end, provide endless opportunities to raise awareness in the community around us. Every time someone stops to ask you why you're walking is a chance to raise awareness. It's an opportunity to have a conversation about breast health and the need for more funding. You will likely encounter people who have never heard of the 3 Day before. If those people go home and think about your conversation, you've achieved one of the major goals of the 3 Day right there. If they look you up online and make a donation, even better. If they schedule a mammogram or a do a breast self exam because you reminded them about how important those things are, that is an accomplishment to be proud of. It doesn't take walking the whole 60 miles to do that. It takes getting out there and being visible in your community, day after day, mile after mile.
Whenever the reality of the difficulties of the 3 Day really starts to set in, it can be helpful to remember to what the REAL goals of the 3 Day are: to raise as much money for breast cancer research as possible and to raise awareness in our communities. It is great to have $2300 and 60 miles as your goals. It is even better to set your personal goals even higher. Without those goals, many of use would never raise a single dollar or walk a single mile. But in the end, even if we don't get there, it is in reaching for those goals that we truly make all the difference.
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars." ~ Les Brown