Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Half Way There!

Someone hit a milestone yesterday, and that someone was Me! I am now half way to my fundraising goal. Yesterday was a typical Monday in the 8 to 5 working world with the exception of this little badge that totally made my day! (Thanks Amy R.):
I have something else to celebrate too! The Atlanta BreastSavers have a new team member! Well, actually we have three new team members that I have yet to introduce.

Meet Carly. Carly and I have known each other since 2002. We were both pharmacy techs while we were in college. I remember the first day we worked together, and we knew we had seen each other before. It turns out Carly and I had a lot of the same friends and had probably been at the same places at the same time. Carly has been telling me for several years that she wanted to do the walk. A lot of people tell me they want to do the walk, and we talk about it and then they never sign up. Carly is  walking in Atlanta not Tampa where she lives. Plus, we are walking with another one of her friends who is also a SGK alum!

Next is Justin. That's right, there is a man on our team! I'm not sure he knows what he is getting into yet, but he will soon find out! Justin is Amy's husband and is also an Atlanta Fireman. I wonder how many of Atlanta Fire will be out to support us this year?  I can't wait for those Saturday morning training walks... we are going find out if Justin can really hang with the ladies!

And last, but certainly not least, Karen Ann! Karen Ann signed up last week, and I am pretty sure its from all of the facebook pimping I have been doing of this blog. Karen Ann and I went to high school together and from high school she has become a very accomplished photographer. She is very talented plus we share a favorite food, Mac & Cheese  (her company is called Mac + Cheese Photography). Check her out, because she does amazing work. Karen Ann is also crazy, she does things like  Muddy Buddy, Warrior Dash and Ironmans. I have no doubt she is ready for 60 miles. Oh, get this... she signed up for the walk last week, made an announcement on facebook and already has $200 in donations! Way to go!!!
I am so excited to walking with several SGK alums and several newbies as well! Who knows maybe we will pick up a couple more along the way! 

Fundraising letter is up next!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2010 Follow-Up

Its that time, time to get the fundraising letter out! As I was looking through my email, I noticed that I have yet to send one out for the 2011 walk. I signed up in November, what have I been doing? When I write my fundraising email, I use one of the examples in the participant center and make it my own, by adding my story, a little extra color and pictures. I try to make it stand out as much as possible, since this is my main source of fundraising. 

A quick fundraising tip I heard last night at a Get Started Meeting; this walker mails out letters to her friends and family. She includes an addressed return envelope with a stamp. Included with her letter is a pink tea bag with a saying attached something like: Take a moment, have a cup of tea and think about breast cancer and what we are doing to end it. She got my attention!

I might be doing this in reverse order, but while I am working on my 2011 fundraising letter (which I will post!), I found my re-cap/thank you email from the 2010 walk. Reading this brought back so many great memories from last year and really got me excited for 2011 and to be walking with a couple newbies!

Friends, Family, my wonderful Supporters,

I am still in shock that the 3-day walk was just one month ago. Our fundraising was a great success.  I raised over $2,600, and my team raised over $11,000 for the cure!  A big thank you goes to all of you, because YOU made this happen!

I bet some of you are wondering how the walk went. We started our journey at Lake Lainer Islands, with the Halloween lights turned on just for us.  All of the employees of Lake Lainer even cheered us on while wearing pink shirts! We walked all day, and around mile 15, I had a surprise:
Our families, my Grandfather, and my Great Aunt came by to cheer us on!  It was a great boost to get us all to the end of our 24 mile first day!

On Saturday morning, we woke up to chilly temperatures, but the cold didn't stop us.  If we weren't campers before the walk, we became campers that weekend.  We had pink tents to sleep in, and there is nothing like sleeping in a pink tent to change your outlook on camping!  We walked all over north Gwinnett, and I had another surprise motivator.
Anne was a great supporter for us all, and kept up with us all day. It seemed like every stop, we had Anne was there.  It was especially nice, because the temperatures were climbing.  I didn't think that we'd be walking in 80 degree weather, but we did, and with these temperatures came blisters.  By the end of day 2 we all felt great, but physically we were slowing down.

On Day 3 we had a great tour of Atlanta with amazing supporters all along the way!  Early on, I was honored to walk with a man, Frank, who was walking for his mother in law and his wife.  Frank's mother in law lost her battle with breast cancer a year before.  Frank, didn't exactly know what he was getting into when he signed up for the walk, but he was amazed by the power of pink.  While we were walking, he told me that he'd already signed up for the 2011 walk! Can't wait to see him again next year!

I have to say, I had several blisters, and on day 3, there were a couple points where I didn't think I would make it. Several times, I looked at my pack and thought of all the wonderful women I was walking in honor and memory of and pressed on.  When we rounded the corner from the capital and saw Turner Field, each of us were greeted by our family members who walked the final mile.  We were walking so fast that some people were having trouble keeping up with our pace! Right before we walked into Turner Field, one of the wonderful women that we were walking for stood there with flowers for all four of us!
Because of your generosity, the 2,400 Atlanta walkers raised 6.1 million dollars for the CURE! Overall, in 2010, Susan G. Komen for the Cure raised over 76 million dollars. Again, this is all because of each of YOU!

I hope that you will all support me again in 2011. Every step gets us closer to the CURE! Thanks again for your support, It means more than you will ever know!

Crystal Canady Elster

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The 3 Days

I know I have been hyping the 3-day a lot lately, and I am sure my facebook friends are tired of me linking these blog posts.  I say too bad, so ignore them if you don't like them.  :) I know I've reached at least one of my 300 or so friends,  and maybe I can reach another one! (Hi Karen Ann!)

I recently heard someone say, the SGK 3-Day is 3 days where the world acts the way it should. This couldn't be more true. There are so many random acts of kindness everywhere, for example:  traffic is stopped for you,  you can eat string cheese and grahamwiches on the way, police officers wear bras outside their clothes, the scouts set up your pink tents,  people dance in the street and you have cheerleaders all along the way. In fact, it is hard to go back to your normal every day routine after you finish the walk. These are just a few examples of how the community comes out to support you, to cheer you on, to help you when you need it all 3 days! You become a family with all the walkers, you swap stories and jokes and you truly become a different person. During your journey, you may reach points where you get tired, but something like this will keep you going:
A local elementary school came out and cheered us on all day in 2010! They all had made pink crowns and signs for us. Everyone of them gave us a high five and many had personal messages for us!

I always thank everyone I see, the crew, the medical staff, the scouts, the person handing out tissues, even the barista in Starbucks for their generosity, and in return they thank me. It is hard to accept their thanks, because all I am doing is walking.  They are the ones that have gotten us all here,  through support and donations are keeping us all going. All the while, some are having to endure treatments.  They (you) are the ones that need to be thanked! We are here because we all believe that together we can are finding the cure.

Watch this clip, and you will see what I am talking about! Oh... and look close, just after the minute mark you may see someone you recognize!
For 3 days we are in a world that we don't allow cancer to exist.  Through our efforts, I know that in one day we will all be able to enjoy a lifetime without breast cancer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sips n Strokes Fundraising Event

Next month I will be hosting a fundraising event at Sips n Strokes, Druid Hills location. Sips n Strokes is such a fun place to go for a girls night or just when you need to relax. The first time I ever went was for a SGK 3-Day fundraising event last year, and I was hooked! My house has several Crystal Originals! This year I am having my own, and we are painting a Pink Ribbon! Can't wait to add this to my collection!
Sips n Strokes will donate $5 for every person that shows up to paint. Its $25 to participate, and you bring your favorite beverage, snacks and enjoy! I can't wait! Now can April 9th hurry up and get here? And if you are planning to come, sign up early~it fills up fast!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fundraising Tips

That $2,300 fundraising minimum is intimidating. The most popular question I get about the 3-Day is how do you raise $2,300? I know it seems intimidating, but there are ways other than asking friends and family to support you. This is my 3rd year participating, and I'm not stressed or worried. 

First, put time into your Personal Page on the Komen site and your Fundraising letter. Your participant center has several samples. I have always used a sample and made it my own. Send everyone in your address book an e-mail (You never know!). Then have your family and friends forward on the fundraising letter on to everyone in their address book. It works, I promise, because I've personally received several donations from people that I've had to ask who they were from others so I could send them a proper thank you letter. It works, so don't be shy! And remember to include in your letter about Matching Gifts!

I always make business cards too. You never know when you are going to get into a conversation about the 3-Day with someone you don't know. On a business card you can include all of the information right there to hand out. Stick them in cards, around your office, and even with your bill at a restaurant. You never know!

There are printable business cards in your Participant Center.

Or you can make your own by printing them at home or use VistaPrint! VistaPrint is always running deals and promotions, such as 1,000 business cards and you only pay shipping. Sign up for their email list to receive extra deals.
(2011 Cards)
(2010 Cards)

Install the Facebook app., so every time you receive a donation, a message will appear on your wall (shown below). Several times I have received repeat donations after a message appeared on my wall. Make your status about the 3-Day. Change your profile picture to a Komen logo. If everyone of my friends donated $7.54 I'd meet the $2,300 fast! Besides, whos going to donate $7.54, most likely they are going to round up to $10! It doesn't hurt to ask! Every dollar counts and it adds up fast!
In Lieu of gifts, give a donation or ask for a donation. This includes, weddings, birthdays and holidays. Mothers day is coming up, so ask people to consider giving a donation instead of a gift! Saves a ton of time, plus gets you or someone else closer to that $2,300 minimum. After you make the donation you can print a card to give it to the recipient.

Have a garage sale. Ask your friends and family to donate items to you, and have all proceeds go towards the walk. Have your business cards handy for anyone that wants to know more about why you are walking!

Throw a party. We did this last year and raised $600 from about 20 people. Think of other parties too such as a poker night, bunco, movie night, wine tasting party, use your imagination!
(invite from our 2010 party)

Consider throwing a Pampered Chef party. Depending on your sales Pampered Chef will donate a percentage to your fundraising. I'm not sure about other companies like  Scentsy, Tupperware or Partylite. I have not worked with them, but it doesn't hurt to ask! 

How to fundraise at work? Have a bake sale or sell tickets for a Pink Day, (jeans + something pink instead of work attire.) I have also found that not putting prices on items can help you get more of a donation! Make pink ribbons and sell them at work to have everyone show their support. You can always find spools of ribbon at a craft store for ~$1 and use hot glue and pins.  It is a simple and cheap way to thank donors or make for an extra donation!

Check with your favorite restaurant and/or bar to see if they will let you guest bartend or donate a percentage of their sales to you. Have a silent auction too! (I've heard of people exceeding the $2,300 minimum at just one event.) Check with places like your local Chick-Fil-A, spa, salon, running store, etc and ask them to donate food or services for an auction. See if you can host a carwash one weekend. Here is another case where your business cards are going to come in handy!

My favorite idea that I have heard about is to have the men in your life wear bras and stand on a street corner for donations. Of course, check with your city of residence in case you need a permit and with Komens guidelines. The guidelines are all included with tons more fundraising ideas on the 101 Fundraising Ideas (also available in your participant center).

Most important thing? Have Fun! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Get Started=Success

I would consider tonight's get started meeting a great success! Everyone that was in attendance is now part of the 3-Day family! What a good feeling! 

Tonight's presentation was by Karen Odell, who was fabulous! I can't wait to see her again in the next two weeks! The presentation was a little different than last year. I always get teary eyed when I hear and see the Komen radio and TV commercials, but tonight, it was beyond teary eyed. We were (virtually) introduced to Bridget. Bridget and I are the same age and even got married around the same time. However, Bridget found out she had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer when she was 21 years old. Metastatic means, the cancer is spreading throughout your body and over time becomes resistant to drug therapy. Metastatic breast cancer has a less than 20% five year survival rate. Bridget has no family history of the disease. Cancer does not discriminate.

Bridget has a blog called, My Big Girl Pants. Aspiring, does not even begin to describe Bridget. If you don't have time to read her blog, at least read why she walks. I don't think anyone could say it better.
Bridget, we are all walking with you and for you.

Monday, March 7, 2011


My participation in the 3-Day has given me some precious memories and introduced me to amazing people.  We've all come a monumental way together on this journey to end breast cancer.  I know that we are close to a day where we will no longer need to walk for the cure, but until then... we keep walking.  A few of those memories in photos...

Donation Perspective

When you click on the "donate to me" link you will see something a little different than in previous years.

$35 (The cost of patient transportation to a treatment session.)  

$60 (Support a 3-Day walker for her/his 60-mile journey.)

$120 (The cost of a life-saving mammogram.) 

Enter an amount that's meaningful for you...

Remember to always check to see if your company is a Matching Company. A $35 donation can easily be $70!  Meaning the cost of two transports to treatment instead of one. Easy! Just requires one extra step! I know we all have at least one friend that works at one of these companies; Allstate, Bank of America, Best Buy, Carmax, Chase, Gap, Kraft, Nike, Google, Verizon, Yahoo and many  more. Click Here to see the pdf file of matching companies.

Every donation is always appreciated,  no matter the amount, $1 to $2,300. Every dollar makes a difference, and that dollar is the one that is going to get us to the CURE!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I think I want to sign up?

You've seen the commercials on tv, you've shed a few tears, you have a personal connection with breast cancer, but your still not sure. Maybe its the mileage or maybe its the $2,300 fundraising minimum that scares you. I'm right there with you, or at least I was 4 years ago when I signed up for my first 3-Day. I was intimidated and I also didn't have a clue about what I was signing up for either. I just knew I wanted to make a difference.  I didn't know anything about the message boards for walkers, the share list, I had only camped one other time in my life, I had a port-a-potty phobia and in fact I never even watched the dvd that Komen sent me. I knew about some of the tricks from my walking partner Erin, who's dad walked when Avon sponsored the walk. For example the shower cap trick to keep your feet dry when it rains, or the body glide/Vaseline for your feet to prevent blisters or the importance of zip lock bags. But other than that, I really wasn't sure what to expect or how to fundraise other than asking family and friends. My how all of that has changed!

Want to know how you can find out all of this information and more? Go to a Get Started Meeting. Take a note pad with you too, because you will get a wealth of information. Everything from tips on fundraising, travel logistics to what the best type clothes are to the importance of proper shoe fittings. Last year I got an email asking if I would volunteer to help out at a meeting. I was amazed at the information that you could get from these meetings and how many questions were answered. Had I been brave enough to attend one of these meetings in 2008, so many of my fears and anxiety about the walk and fundraising would have never been a thought. I was even more amazed that out of the 30 in attendance 27 signed up right on the spot. (The 3 others had already signed up online!)

Speaking of volunteering, I will be at three Get Started Meetings in March and I can't wait! I love to talk about the 3-Day... I even think I had to be cut short a couple of times at the meeting I attended last year because of time constraints. (I managed to get that gene from my dad, you know the one that can talk to a brick wall. Hi, thats me!)

Need more motivation? Be sure you pick up a copy of Nancy Brinkers book, Promise Me. Until I read this book, I was not informed on how SGK for the Cure came to form. I knew that Susan Komen has passed away in her 30's from breast cancer and her sister started this organization, but seriously thats all I knew. This book is not just for a walker, but for all who know the power of the pink. When you finish the book, I can guarantee you'll be hooked and signing up. Nancy Brinker is proof that it just takes one person to make a difference. (And what a difference she has made!)  Between a Get Started Meeting and reading this book, I don't know how you couldn't sign up.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


This week I was honored with the title of being Susan G. Komen for the Cure Ambassador. What is an Ambassador, you ask? It is now my job to use social media (and more) to keep you up to date on 3-Day happenings! Hopefully, I can recruit a few new walkers along the way. It is possible that I have added more to my plate by taking this on, or maybe I am just doing something I should have been doing all along.

It is hard to believe that I am going into my 3rd year of walking and I am still getting blank stares when I talk about the 3-Day. I understand questions that come from strangers, but not my friends and family. They see my countless posts on facebook, wearing pink almost every day, they even ask  how my mom is doing, but some still don't get fully understand about what it means to be a walker. Maybe talking about Breasts is taboo? My response, you have yet to know the power of pink.  I've heard it all, such as:  You walk 60 miles, all in one day? How do you raise $2,300? You camp, how? Do you have to carry your luggage with you? How do you take a shower? Do you have to pack a lunch? Where do you go to the bathroom? Do you change shoes? And my favorite, why would you put yourself through this? You may have some of these same questions, so let me answer them.

I'd like to start by giving you a little bit of history. 30 years ago Nancy Brinker made a promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen. Her promise was to do everything in her power to end breast cancer. In 1983 a foundation was established. Through many grassroots endeavors Susan G. Komen for the cure has invested over 2 billion dollars for research, education, advocacy, health services and social support programs in the United States. I know for a fact that if it wasn't for Susan and Nancy the advances in breast health would be no where near todays standards. 

Yes, I walk 60 miles. On average 20 miles  a day for 3 days. We walk about 3 miles, and we stop for snacks and restroom breaks, then we walk 3 or so more and stop again, then 3 more miles and we stop for lunch, walk a few more miles, stop for snacks again until we have completed the 20 miles. Bathrooms, port-a-potties. If you know me, this may come as a surprise, but hey its not that bad! You get over the Eww factor pretty quick. When we are done for the day we find our luggage that the crew has so generously organized, and we build a tent. Not just any tent, but a pink tent! Some may ask, where to do find the energy to build a tent after walking 20 miles? Well, where does a cancer patient find their energy after a chemo treatment? You just do it (plus a lot of times you have sweet Girl Scouts and/or Boy Scouts helping you out!) After you get settled, you head over to the shower trucks, along the way you stop to cheer on more walkers who are ending the day! Yes I did say 'shower truck.' Again, if you know me I bet I know what you are thinking, but these shower trucks are not just any shower. In your private stall you have perfectly hot showers with amazing water pressure. Then its off to dinner, entertainment, and then bed. And repeat.

Why would I put myself through this? Why wouldn't I? If you knew that you could make a difference in the world, why wouldn't you participate? Breast Cancer has touched my life, and I feel a need to fight back. Every walker must raise a minimum of $2,300. In the scheme of things, $2,300 is nothing. Any donation made is the one that will find the cure. And think about it, a cure for breast cancer, is a cure for all cancer.  Imagine a world with out cancer. Together we can make this happen.