Teachers Walking the 3-Day: 'How Could We Not Walk'?

Melissa Lolli, who grew up in Snellville, and Cathy Gates, of Lilburn, will tackle their first Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk, a 60-mile fundraising event.

Frank N. Osborne Middle School teachers Melissa Lolli and Cathy Gates will participate in their first Susan G. Komen 3-Day, a 60-mile walk which begins at Stone Mountain Park on Friday and ends at Turner Field on Sunday, Oct. 21.

Lolli, 31, is originally from Snellville and Gates, 34, is from Lilburn.

They took time to answer a few questions via e-mail from Patch before the big day:

Patch: Is this your first 3-Day?

Lolli and Gates: This is the first 3day for both of us. 

Patch: Why did you decide to walk? Do you have a personal connection with breast cancer?

Gates: Melissa and I have always been huge supporters of Relay for Life and other cancer charities- for example, we both donated to locks for love. We also both have Grandmothers that survived Cancer. The 3day ads were very inspirational when they were playing on the radio in the spring. I heard one while I was thinking of a college friend who is currently fighting breast cancer, and immediately texted Melissa and we agreed we had to do it.  As two healthy, able bodied women... how could we not walk???.  Through the training and fund raising, I have realized that we all have a connection to breast cancer- whether it is someone we know personally, or a loved one of someone we know.

I am walking for my grandmother, for my college friend, for my friends mothers who have fought cancer, and  for friends of friends who have lost their battle to breast cancer. I also have a big, healthy, family with a Mom, lots of Aunts, sisters, nieces and cousins that I love dearly and I am walking for them as well. I believe in a world without cancer, and I am walking so that my "connection" does not get any more personal.

Lolli: As Cathy said, friends at work have helped educate us on cancer efforts such as Relay for Life. One of our favorite times of the year has been attending the overnight relay event and the positive energy that surrounds that night. The feeling of truly supporting something so meaningful is infectious and I think that ignited my drive to do something more. The 3 day walk for me feels like the next step in my desire to do something positive and bring attention to a cause that should be consistently on the forefront of everyone’s mind. Of course, I have a personal connection to breast cancer. As Cathy mentioned, my grandmother is a breast cancer survivor.

I think that today it would be hard to find someone who does not have a connection with breast cancer and that is why the walk is so meaningful. Everyone knows the impact of cancer and the money and attention that this event raises is powerful. What I truly pray is that the power of the 3 day walk can impact future generations. Knowing that the gene for breast cancer exists in my family pushes me to work for a cure that one day might save my daughter or granddaughter.

Patch: How are you feeling about the 60 miles? Nervous? Excited?

Gates: I am very excited! The teachers and students here at Osborne have been so supportive with donations, encouraging word and lots of support. I have been stopped in the hall by co-workers who have shared their connection to breast cancer, and it reminds me why I am doing this and motivates me to keep going.      

Lolli: I am very excited about the walk!  I knew that 60 miles was going to be physically hard, but I was more nervous about reaching my goal of $2300 that every participant has to raise to participate in the walk. However, I found that people were very generous with both donations and support. The generosity of my family, especially my parents, both monetarily and by raising awareness with friends and coworkers has been incredibly inspiring.

Everywhere I go, I end up talking to someone that has their own personal connection to breast cancer and it reminds me why we signed up for this. Going to the 3 Day clinics and meeting other walkers and even staff members keeps the motivation strong.

The whole experience so far, even before the walk, has been amazing and I cannot wait to experience the actual event.


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