Last week I attended for the first time a Susan G. Komen 3-Day—a 60-mile walk over, you guessed it, three days to support breast cancer research. Mohawk has been a supporter of Susan G. Komen for 22 years, donating more than $7 million among its many initiatives.
First, a little about this event: The Susan G. Komen 3-Day was started in 2003 to raise money for breast cancer. At one point there were 15 3-Days in a calendar year. Today, there are four or five bigger events, the largest being the final event in San Diego that attracts about 1,200 walkers. The participants include breast cancer survivors as well as family and friends of both survivors and, sadly, non-survivors. Walkers range from 16 to 87 years old. A man named George has walked 60 miles more than 80 times.
Every walker needs to raise at least $2,300; most exceed that amount. Over the course of 20 years, nearly $900 million has been raised from the 3-Days to support research initiatives and provide all kinds of support for those dealing with this horrible disease.
One way Mohawk supports Komen is through its pink SmartCushion. For example, from Feb. 1, 2023 to Aug. 31, 2024, Mohawk will donate to Komen $0.02 per square yard of SmartCushion carpet padding sold. In addition, nine years ago the company saw the opportunity to come to these 3-Days and literally “cushion the fight” by giving the walkers a place to rest on its pink SmartCushion. Back in the day, the walkers used to camp at these events. Mohawk would provide rolls of SmartCushion they could place underneath their sleeping bags. As these events evolved and moved into hotels, it realized the bigger opportunity was to “cushion the fight” at the lunchtime events. Instead of the walkers grabbing a piece of cardboard so they wouldn’t have to sit on wet grass or asphalt, now they rest on SmartCushion squares. When they are done all the cushion is recovered as part of Mohawk’s ReCover program and recycled into new cushion.
I don’t know how many of our readers have attended one of these events or even walked. I know many have attended the St. Jude 5k or 10k as Shaw is a huge supporter of that cause and does an amazing job of getting employees and retailers to run. I imagine it’s the same feeling when you arrive at the walk or run. It’s humbling. You walk into a room of 700 people about to embark on a 60-mile walk over three days in support of the cause. The commitment is the tie that binds each and every one of these people.
You see people about to walk 60 miles. I think about how I complain if I don’t get a parking spot close to where I’m going. You see people who have survived breast cancer or are walking to support someone they lost. I think about how I complain if I can’t get a reservation at a restaurant. Kind of puts things in perspective. We don’t realize how lucky we are.
These are the things that activate you. I walked into the room and saw people about to put themselves through what seems to me like torture in support of breast cancer research. But that torture pales in comparison to actually being diagnosed with breast cancer and enduring the ensuing treatment. It made me want to walk. When I looked at my Mohawk friends and told them I wanted to walk, they basically told me I was not going to die on their watch.
Our own Megan Salzano-Birch seconded that emotion. When I told her I was going to walk one leg next year, she reminded me that a 20-mile walk is serious business. Or, more specifically, “For someone who sits at a desk all day = death.” That text was followed by a skull and crossbones. When I said I was going to prove everyone wrong, she simply said: “Leave me something in your will.”
She’s not wrong: 20 miles is a lot of ground to cover. After the walkers left the hotel, we grabbed some breakfast and headed over to the park—in an Uber—where the walkers would stop for lunch. The ride seemed like 20 miles. It was 10.
My goal is to walk 20 miles at one of these events next year. It’s not that I’m a masochist, but there’s something about seeing all these people put themselves through a grueling three days in support of finding a cure for breast cancer. I think about the people who live with breast cancer. I think about the people who did not survive the disease. The pain. The fear. It’s almost as though you want to show your support by suffering along with them.
Maybe I’ll go through with it and maybe I won’t. I’ll tell you this: If I take one step on the road to 20, I’ll get to 20. I don’t care if takes me three days to get in a third of what everyone else will do in the same time frame. It’s what the late college basketball coach, Jim Valvano, who died of bone cancer, left us with: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
The people I saw in Denver epitomize that.