Moments, events and people in life challenge and inspire us to persevere, whether for the sake of somebody close or for the sake of a good and noble cause.
Platteville native and 2008 Platteville High School graduate Carrie Cullen has been going through a training period for several weeks, in preparation for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk in Minneapolis Aug. 24–26.
The daughter of Terry and Patti Cullen, Carrie studied psychology at UW–Eau Claire for two years. She then transferred to the University of Minnesota to study design for one year, before officially moving back to Eau Claire and declaring Psychology as her major this past fall semester.
Cullen first learned about the 3-Day through radio commercials she heard while driving one day. After frequently hearing them and being inspired by them, she started seeing advertisements on TV over and over again.
“They were even more inspiring — putting a face to the voice — and almost brought me to tears making me think of loved ones I knew going through their battle with breast cancer,” she said. “Something or someone was trying to get me to realize the 3-Day, so I decided it was time to look into what it was all about.”
The 3-Day is considered to be one of the boldest events created for the fight against cancer. The event is one of many created through “Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” founded three decades ago by Nancy G. Brinker, in honor of her promise to her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything she could to stop cancer forever.
According to the website, “Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like ... the 3-Day, the organization has invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill its promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.” The website adds that “virtually major advances in the fight against breast cancer in the last 30 years have been impacted by a Susan G. Komen for the Cure grant.”
According to www.the3day.org, thousands of volunteers, crew members and walkers participate in these efforts.
Training consists of walking just about every day, for a total of 28 weeks, until the event. Cullen’s current weekly training schedule consists of walking five to eight miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays, cross training on Wednesday and Fridays, and taking longer walks on Saturdays — between 10 and 18 miles.
Sundays, she says, “decrease a little down to eight to 13 miles,” while Mondays are her only days of rest.
During the event, walkers are required to walk 20 miles each day, beginning Aug. 24, and ending at the Closing Ceremony Aug. 26 in the afternoon.
Cullen is walking for Lana Withrow, the mother of Carrie’s friend, Matt, who lives near Arthur. On June 28 of last year, Cullen’s birthday, she learned that Lana was diagnosed with stage 3c breast cancer.
“Training is exhausting and time consuming, especially in this summer heat, but every time I think about complaining or not doing a walk, I think of Lana and her fight with breast cancer and how she has had no choice but to persevere,” said Cullen. “I think about how much harder she is fighting — for 24 hours every single day, and then my walks don’t seem so bad.”
Cullen describes Withrow as “a courageous wife and mother of four,” as well as “a fighter if I’ve ever known one. ... Lana continues to bravely fight her battle each and every day, which inspired me to join the 3-Day, to join the fight against breast cancer.”
Each participant is required to raise $2,300 for the event. Though this may stand as a setback for those otherwise interested in participating in such an event, Cullen and her friend Molly Sarles, who will also participate in the 3-Day, did not let this hold them back. Both attended a “get started” meeting in Minneapolis in January and have since gotten together on weekends, planning out various events for them to raise the money they need.
In April, Cullen and Sarles held a breast cancer event in Eau Claire, which they titled “Barrel for Boobs.” It consisted of “pink streamers and 3-Day posters.” They split the money their friends donated at the event and donated it directly into their accounts for the 3-Day event.
Cullen returned June 26 from Venezuela, where she studied abroad for six weeks), and Sarles and she are planning their next event, which will take place in Minneapolis this month.
Expected to graduate next year, Cullen sees no limits as far as career choices: “I just know I enjoy helping people.”
For more information or to contribute, go to www.the3day.org/goto/CarrieCullen.
“Donate in support, honor, or memory of someone special in your life that has battled through their fight with breast cancer,” she said.
According to the website, 75 percent of all net proceeds raised by the 3-Day will go towards community education of breast cancer, as well as outreach programs funding breast cancer. In addition, “the remaining 25 percent [will fund] local community and Affiliate outreach programs.”