DEL MAR — The Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk is less than a month away.
On Nov. 17 a spirited group of approximately 2,500 walkers will take off from the fairgrounds in Del Mar to walk 60 miles to San Diego in an effort to raise awareness and funds to help fight breast cancer.
Teams dress in pink, come up with fun group names, and walk together as survivors and supporters. Some teams are headed up by a breast cancer survivor. Other teams walk for a friend or family member who did not survive the disease.
Walkers put in 20 miles of easy-paced walking a day to reach San Diego by Nov. 19. The group of walkers is escorted by a team of police volunteers on bicycles as they make their way down the coast.
At the end of each day participants stop at a 3-Day walk campsite. A dining tent, hot showers, pink sleeping tents and entertainment are provided.
A closing ceremony is held the final day of the walk to celebrate participants completing the walk and the strides that have been made to fight breast cancer.
Participants describe the 3-Day walk as an empowering and bonding experience.
“My stepmom is a survivor, her mother is a survivor,” said Stephanie Castle, of San Diego, at last year’s 3-Day walk. “All of us have family or close friends (with breast cancer). We walk to find a cure and hopefully another person doesn’t get it.”
Debbie Chapel of Riverside first participated in the 3-Day walk in 2003. In 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. By 2012 she had become terminally ill with the disease.
“They say I’m terminal, but I’m not laying down,” Chapel said last year. “I’m fighting.”
A team of family members and friends walked in support of Chapel in 2012. She served on the team support crew, helping to haul extra gear and bring along any special food and drink requests for the team that were not provided as part of the 3-Day walk.
“Knowing they support me I can walk through cancer,” Chapel said.
Each participant in the 3-Day walk is required to raise $2,300 to participate and fund the cause. To help participants reach their fundraising goal online help and printable posters and business cards are available.
A lot of fundraising is done through e-mail blasts and websites.
Other 3-Day walk participants use fundraising parties, yard sales, car washes or bake sales.
A good number of walk participants find donors who pledge $100 and end up raising more than the required $2,300.
The San Diego 3-Day walk raised $6.5 million in 2012. Funds are used for breast cancer research and community breast health and education programs.
Women and men age 20 and older may be at risk to develop breast cancer. Early detection and treatment of breast cancer is critical in curing patients.
Medical advancements have developed more treatment options for patients, and specific recommendations for different stages of breast cancer.