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Making an impact against breast cancer with the Komen 3-Day

Rachel Brown never thought breast cancer would have much of an impact on her life. But everything changed one day in 2004 when her mom, Carol, called with the news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It was so surreal, because it was not something my mom and I really discussed,” Rachel said. “She told me not to worry; it had been caught early thanks to her employer bringing in the mobile mammography unit. They compared her mammogram to the one from the previous year and saw a change that turned out to be breast cancer.” Carol had to undergo a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy. By 2005, her scans were clear and showed no evidence of disease.

Rachel with her mom, Carol, and Bobbi Duty, a member of Bouncin’ Buckeyes who has walked with Rachel in 24 3-Day walks.

Not long after her mom’s final treatment, Rachel came across an advertisement for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, a 3-day, 60-mile walk to raise funds to help end breast cancer. The ad inspired her to take action. She convinced her younger sister to register with her as a team for the 2005 Arizona 3-Day.

They chose the team name “Bouncin’ Buckeyes” to honor their home state of Ohio. “My sister hit her fundraising goal within the first two weeks of our campaign,” Rachel said. “She showed me what is possible when you aren’t afraid to just make the ask and give people a deadline to donate.” Together, the sisters raised more than $9,600 that first year.

They flew their mom in to join them at the closing ceremonies, which has become a tradition for the team. “I was just so overwhelmed by the whole experience,” Rachel said. “That year was just the beginning. I look forward to the ‘Pink Bubble’ every year. The community is amazing, and we know the money we are raising is getting us one step closer to a cure.”

Since 2005, the Bouncin’ Buckeyes have participated in 35 3-Day events and have raised more than $680,000. As an individual participant, Rachel has raised nearly $310,000 and was recognized as the Milestone Award Winner at the 2022 Chicago 3-Day. She credits the team’s fundraising success to consistent communication and the support of the donors.

“I send emails throughout the year sharing our progress, and after each walk, I send all my donors a thank you card made with pictures from the 3-Day and a donation form for the next year’s event,” she said. “If it weren’t for the team and my donors, I would not have the same fundraising success each year. I am so grateful to the people who donate to me year after year. They are a part of my family.”

In addition to maintaining regular communication with her donors, Rachel has organized the Golf Classic for the Cure, an annual four-person golf scramble that serves as her team’s key fundraiser for the 3-Day each year. In 2022, the event raised more than $32,000, and this year, they have a goal to raise $40,000.

Rachel also set a personal goal to individually raise $50,000 in honor of her 50th birthday in November 2022. “I had hoped to make it to $50,000 within 50 days of my birthday, which was November 4, but I was only 11% to that goal on my birthday. It didn’t deter me; yes, I didn’t hit that initial deadline, but I did make it to $50,000. It just took me longer than 50 days.” Rachel’s hard work and motivation has paid off. Since November, her efforts have netted her more than $65,000 for the 2023 Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day.

Throughout her years of participation, Rachel has always kept her mom at the forefront of everything. “The 3-Day is truly a family affair. My mom is at every walk, working with my older sister to help the team with whatever we need. I’m grateful for the memories we have made and continue to make because of the advances in screening and treatment made possible by Komen.”

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.