By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN For Darcy Roeser of Delano, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure breast cancer walk invokes thoughts of strength, survival, and togetherness.
“It was a life-changing, emotional roller coaster,” said Darcy, who recently participated in the Twin Cities event with her family. “We would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The adventure started when Darcy’s mom, Sandy Jacob, opened her Mothers Day gift last May.
The box contained a white t-shirt with the words “Cancer Crusader” printed on the front.
“She thought we were getting a family picture taken with matching t-shirts,” Darcy laughed.
Sandy soon learned, however, that her family had signed up to be part of the Aug. 20-22 Susan G. Komen walk.
“She was so excited,” Roeser said. “She had never in a million years thought we had done this.”
As an 11.5-year breast cancer survivor, Sandy enjoys doing everything she can to help others, and had always dreamed of participating in the walk.
Darcy and her husband, Jason, along with her brother, Ryan Jacob, and sister-in-law, CC, secretly raised the $2,300 per-participant requirement, and CC, a graphic designer, created the “Cancer Crusader” team logo.
After the family presented the t-shirts, they showed Sandy a 10-minute DVD highlighting the purpose of the walk. A handmade “Cancer Crusaders” poster made by Darcy’s daughters, Mya, 7, and Jaelyn, 4, completed the gift.
Sandy’s sister, Stacey Covi, joined the team, and the group began training for the 60-mile trek.
“They give you a training guideline,” Darcy said. “It’s a good excuse to keep fit all year.”
When the big weekend finally arrived, the “Cancer Crusaders” were ready. They began at the Southdale Mall in Edina, along with 2,400 other walkers. The first day’s 20-mile journey ended near Macalester College in St. Paul.
“Tons of people came down to cheer for the walkers,” Darcy said. “That was something I wasn’t expecting.”
Sprays of water, bags of ice, candy, and motivational music were much appreciated during the 90-degree weekend.
“We were really thankful,” Darcy said, adding that one of the “cheering stations” was a mile long.
Darcy’s father, Bob Jacob, was one of the supporters, i.e. “walker stalkers.”
“He was our shuttle driver the whole weekend,” Darcy said. “Even though he didn’t walk, he was definitely part of the team.”
Thousands of people also camp out during the weekend.
“There’s a sea of pink tents,” Darcy said. “The first night, there’s a big tent decorating contest. Mostly, it’s so that you can find your tent among the 1,000-plus tents that are there.”
For Darcy, hearing participants’ stories was one of the weekend’s highlights. One man who lost his wife to breast cancer brought his wife’s favorite red couch. He hauled it to different spots for people to rest on during the walk.
“It’s amazing what people do,” Darcy said.
Accessories like tutus and feather boas also were common on the walk.
“It’s outlandish what people wear to walk 60 miles,” Darcy laughed. “Ours was one of the more reserved outfits.”
When the family suggested the walk to Sandy, their goal was for her to walk five miles each day, for a total of 15 miles. However, she beat all of their expectations, finishing a total of about 40 miles.
Darcy made it to 50 miles before her asthma forced her to quit, Stacey stopped after 53 miles due to blisters, and Jason, Ryan, and CC completed all 60 miles of the walk.
Next year, the team hopes to cheer on other walkers, and the following year, they plan to participate as walkers in a different city.
“We might go to DC or to San Diego to see another area,” Darcy said.
Darcy said that the walk is a fun way to raise breast cancer awareness and raise money to find a cure.
“Why I walked, besides supporting my mom, is because I have two girls,” Darcy said, explaining that breast cancer risk is fairly high in her family.
Sandy has a variation of the BRCA2 gene that causes an increased risk of breast cancer, and Darcy’s mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50.
To learn more about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for a Cure breast cancer walk, go to www.the3day.org or call 800-996-3DAY (800-996-3329).