Meet the Man Going for His 59th Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Walk
Barry Blauer is on the road to participate in his 59th Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk this August in Michigan. Yes, I said 59 — meaning he’s already done the three-day, 60-mile walk 58 times, a wonderful accomplishment for a great cause. Everyone knows someone who has suffered from breast cancer, a disease that affects one in eight American women.
Blauer, 62, works in membership and billing systems for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The Huntington Woods resident, who also spent three years living in New Zealand, is getting ready to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary in August.
Read more about Barry’s experiences below and maybe this will inspire you to participate in the 3-Day Walk for the Cure in the future or even another cause that you are passionate about.
A Healthier Michigan: Tell me more about the breast cancer 3-Day walk. What is it? How does it work?
Barry Blauer: It is now called the Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure. It is a 60-mile walk over 3 days. We camp in pink tents, we shower in trucks. Walkers register, raise at least $2,300, and train as much as they can. There are over 450 volunteer crew (members), who also register and raise money, and work all weekend to support the walkers. Last year the MI event had about 1,800 walkers and raised over $4.2 million.
AHM: What motivated you to start doing the walks? And how many have you done?
Blauer: I was invited by e-mail to the first one here in 2002 — the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day walk. I had done a lot of charity walks, including captaining the Stroh’s WalkAmerica team for 10 years, and just looked at it as another charity walk. I was so amazed by the organization and inspired by the event, I kept doing it! I have participated in 64 events, 58 walking and 6 crewing, in 17 different cities, and have walked all 9 that have been done here (in Michigan).
AHM: Do you walk as an individual or with a team? If it is a team, how did you come together?
Blauer: I am part of a team; my team captain invited me to join them for dinner at camp a few years ago, and I joined her. She is a survivor, and the team consists mainly of family and friends, but anyone can join us (and become a friend!)
AHM: How do you stay motivated throughout the training?
Blauer: I prefer training with others, and my team does a number of training walks. I am also a training walk leader, which forces me to set up walks and be there. But I am also a health walker, so I don’t mind training alone.
AHM: Is there ever a point during the walk when you just want to quit? How do you work through those moments?
Blauer: It gets tough after lunch on day 2, but there is always a lot of support around to help. In Michigan we get a lot people coming to cheer us on and that helps a lot. If one needs it, we have shuttles that are there to help get people to the next pit stop, lunch, or camp.
AHM: What advice would you give to first time walkers?
Blauer: Start training and fund raising as early as possible. Go to a get-started meeting, join a team, and go to organized training walks to learn from experienced walkers. Don’t be afraid to call the coaches, ask questions on the message board, or talk to any of the running stores that give us discounts.
AHM: How can someone participate or donate to the cause?
Blauer: One can volunteer for one day, or come out and cheer us on during the event. If you know a walker you want to support, you can go their donation page and donate online, or you can print out their donation form, fill it out, and send it in with a donation.
AHM: After participating so many times, what is your least favorite part and your most favorite part of this experience?
Blauer: Least favorite: walkers talking on cell phones — officially not allowed, but often done — very rude!
Most favorite: meeting people, sharing stories — I now have friends all over the country from this!
AHM: Is there anything else you would like to share especially, being such a seasoned and experienced participant?
Blauer: I have learned that breast cancer does not discriminate, and is attacking the heart of our families. I have met too many young women with young children who have had to battle this disease, and I believe we can beat it. Doing this event once is an experience of a lifetime; if you get hooked, like many of us do, you can be part of a wonderful group of friends that see each other every year!
AHM: Has anyone close to you suffered from breast cancer, like a family member or friend who inspired you to start walking in the first place?
Blauer: No; I have done the charity walks honoring my family’s health, and the same for these — but I do walk for all the survivors I have met, and for the future! ♦
If you would like to donate to Barry’s final 3-Day for the Cure walk, you can do so here. A big thank you and round of applause to Barry for his dedication.
Photo Credit: Audrey via Flickr