Event 360 staff kicked off the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® season in Novi, Michigan last week, our first of seven Komen 3-Days until the end of November. After each event, we’ll share a sneak peek from the perspective of one staff member to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into producing the 3-Day®.
First up is Molly Fast who staffed the event as the Participant Experience Manager. The PEM is responsible for ensuring walkers, crew and volunteers are having a great experience and has the pleasure of working hand-in-hand with on-event sponsors.
Wednesday, August 5th (Travel Day)
Today’s a travel day for me and other than being stuck on a plane with no air for an hour while they figure out how to put more fuel into the plane (something I thought they’d do before they loaded all the passengers), it’s been rather uneventful. In fact, upon landing in Detroit I look out the window and think “This could almost pass for Ireland. Almost.”
I land in Detroit and head out to get my rental car. I’m happy to report there’s little to no humidity and there are big, poufy clouds that welcome me to Michigan (see above). This makes me happy, because when I leave the comfort of Santa Monica, I fear humidity. It’s basically why I left the east coast 15 years ago. After checking into the hotel, I grab dinner with my friends/co-workers, hit the treadmill because I know I’m not going to fall asleep at a decent hour with the three hour time change and ready myself for the next day.
Thursday, August 6th, (All Crew Kick-Off)
I don’t have to report to the site until 9:00 a.m. (which is a gift on event!), so I take advantage of the time and run to the grocery store to stock up on good-for-me foods. We all know how easy it is to fall into the trap of eating event food, and I’m determined to make healthy choices. Thank you Trader Joe’s for being located across the street from my hotel.
After arriving on site, I’m surrounded by pink, pink, pink everywhere as the stage for the Opening Ceremony tomorrow morning is set-up. Crew members (3-Day participants who work the walk instead of walking the walk, and volunteer their time over four days) are arriving at varying times today for training and meetings. I’m already getting soaked into the energy of the event and spend most of the day running various errands, getting things set-up, and making lists of things we need to get. My favorite part of the day was when all 3-Day staff introduced ourselves to the amazing Michigan 3-Day Crew. Not only did I get to see nearly all my co-workers I’d be working alongside throughout the weekend, but I got to see the smiling faces of the crew! Here I am with two of our three local Michigan coaches, Jennifer and Ann who have worked hard behind the scenes all year long on supporting Michigan 3-Day walkers.
Once we’re done with staff introductions, I make my way to the stage for rehearsals. I’ve spent months reviewing drafts of the ceremony, but to see it live in rehearsals is amazing. I had no doubt that it’d all come together, but… wow! I know tomorrow morning will be even more spectacular with the participants. I get off site around 6:00 p.m. (thank you!) and find myself on the treadmill again after dinner (who am I?). I am struggling to fall asleep at a decent hour (stupid time difference), which really stinks because I’ve just set my alarm for 4:02 a.m.
Friday, August 7th (Day One)
I’m working on about three hours of sleep (welcome to event season) and have given myself eight minutes to get from my bed and into the lobby. Somehow I do it. I get on site and work with walkers who need to complete their check-in before going behind the stage to help cue participants on stage to be part of the Opening Ceremony. Before that though, I have the privilege of watching my friend and co-worker Jaime warm-up the group with the most adorable jazzercise routine. Ever.
As is the case with every single 3-Day ceremony I see, I cry. I just can’t help it. I take a moment after the Michigan 3-Day officially begins and enjoy the amazing view from the stage, feeling nothing but gratitude for being part of this magical event.
The rest of the day goes by in a blur as we move to the other side of the Suburban Collection Showplace (the one event where our Opening and Camp is in the same location) and get everything set-up for our walkers to enjoy upon their return from a day of walking 22ish miles. More errands are run. More rehearsals are completed. The day goes by quickly and I find myself smiling throughout the entire day―still happy to be on event, interacting with participants and having fun with my friends and co-workers. I sit through the new and improved camp show and find myself crying again (what can I say, I cry easily!) at the touching stories from breast cancer survivors that remind me why what we do is so very important.
I leave site around 9:00 p.m., having been up and at it for over 17 hours, and head to dinner for my first mozzarella moment (which is basically just sharing a plate of mozzarella sticks) with my friend and co-worker Tom. I skip the treadmill and head straight to bed.
Saturday, August 8th (Day Two)
I wake up over an hour later than yesterday and yet feel like I just shut my eyes. Regardless, I’m up and out in a matter of minutes and meet my team in the hotel lobby. We get on site and it’s raining. But wait, the forecast calls for a 0% chance of rain! My day is filled with errands and catching up on my “weekday job” that doesn’t seem to stop just because I’m on event. We’re also rolling out new campsite elements during Friends & Family Night, so I work with my partner-in-crime, Tara, to get that all figured out. We rehearse camp show where I love watching my boss do a run through of the new game we’ll be featuring. We’re all laughing, and it’s not just because we’re running on fumes. I can’t wait to see how the game goes over with participants later today.
Saturday is a special day on the 3-Day because it means macaroni and cheese for dinner! I allow myself to have a helping before camp show then do a quick spin through Main Street (and play with the photo props) on my way to the dining tent.
Now at camp show, I was right. Participants are laughing and the game is a hit!
After camp show, and “lights out” on the 3-Day (9:00 p.m.) we start breaking down the lounge and put everything away. Because we’re all motivated by getting into our beds, this goes relatively quickly, and about 30 minutes later we’re pretty much done. I wait to help a few of my co-workers wrap up their Saturday night tasks and head to the hotel at 10:30 p.m. Somehow I find the motivation to run two miles on the treadmill. Must be all that macaroni and cheese I want to work off! Sleep comes very easily.
Sunday, August 9th (Day Three)
I start the day at 5:30 a.m. and head right to camp to help with the forced SAG (this means we’re putting participants on school buses and driving them to the start of the route). It’s raining when I get on site and I realize my rain coat is in the Command Center which has advanced to Closing. Oops.
For some reason, this is one of my very favorite event tasks. For about an hour and a half I dance alongside the participants helping them get on buses and wishing them well on their last day of walking. I’m pretty sure I made the morning news.
After all walkers are safely on their way, I head to the Participant Finish Area and help set up. We put out the victory shirts for participants and games for the friends and family who will welcome their walkers home. The day goes by quickly and before I know it, I’m back at the stage dancing with Dr. Sheri (from the sidelines, of course) as the Closing Ceremony takes place. The shoe salute happens, a magical 3-Day moment, and guess what? I’m crying. Again!
Unfortunately I can’t stay too long as I have a flight to catch back home to Los Angeles. It doesn’t matter though because I’m on a post-event high and I can’t wait to do it all over again in two weeks in the Twin Cities.