Steiner dad raises thousands for breast cancer, 2015 goal for Komen walk: $5,000

John Welsh in Boston.

John Welsh in Boston.

By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News

Steiner Ranch resident John Welsh, husband and father to two boys, wants to help win the fight against breast cancer.

To that end, every year for eight years Welsh has walked 60 miles over three days in Dallas, Boston and even San Diego, raising tens of thousands of dollars to benefit the walk’s organizer, the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

The annual event is known as the 3-Day, and requires all walkers to fundraise a minimum of $2,300.

But Welsh always sets his sights higher. His goal this year is to raise $5,000 for the event, planned for Nov. 5.

Welsh in Dallas in 2013 at the Walk.

Welsh in Dallas in 2013 at the Walk.

He first got involved years ago, when his sister planned to do the walk and called Welsh to ask for a donation. He immediately asked if he could join her.

Welsh had a personal reason to want to participate: he had watched his mother-in-law fight breast cancer.

“I really saw what chemo(therapy) can do to a person, how it ages them. It’s just a nasty bunch of chemicals. Even though it does its job, it definitely takes its toll. I didn’t want my wife to have to go through that, and I wanted to find a better way to cure it.”

Welsh has since walked the 3-Day six times. This year will be his third time working on the event crew, providing monitoring and safety for walkers.

The walk starts in Dallas, in the Frisco/Plano area, and the route meanders through town on sidewalks and walking trails. Each of the two nights, walkers camp, using their own gear (event organizers provide pink tents) delivered to a campsite by crew members. On the final day, the walk ends at the state fairgrounds with a closing ceremony.

At the Walk in San Diego, 2011.

At the Walk in San Diego, 2011.

There are cheering stations along the route, sponsored by different organizations, as well as food and water, first aid and bathroom stops.

Welsh especially enjoys crewing the event. “When you’re on the route safety crew… they’ll send you to an intersection. You’ll sit there and help people cross, from the first walker until the last walker. You get to see every single walker who comes by. You get to give them high-fives and cheer them on. It’s a lot of fun.”

That first year Welsh walked, his sister turned out to be unable to attend the walk due to a move. Welsh walked instead with his mom and a friend of his sister.

But he says it’s not necessary to bring company along. “You walk with different people, and you get to talk with them and hear their stories.” One year he met a woman walking the route with crutches who was then currently undergoing chemotherapy.

“I’ve seen (from 10-year-olds) to 60, 70 year old men and women walking, and everybody has a reason to walk. That’s kind of one of the neat things about doing the walk is getting to walk and talk to all these people. Some of the stories are inspiring and some are heartbreaking. Everybody has a little different reason,” he said.

Welsh has an extraordinary accomplishment of his own. In 2010, he decided to raise the most money of anyone walking the 3-Day in Dallas. As motivation, he promised his donors that, if they helped him to reach his goal, he would walk that year with his hair dyed pink.

He succeeded, quickly raise an astonishing $17,128. Welsh then upped the ante, pledging to walk the Boston 3-Day that same year in a pink bra if he reached his fundraising goal of $3,750. That year in Boston, Welsh proudly walked in shorts and a bright pink underwire, his pink hair tucked into a pink cowboy hat.

“I was very popular that year,” he explains with a smile.

As for what motivates Welsh to continue to walk or crew year after year, “I think the thing that was still kind of striking to me that I didn’t realize is that still to this day, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It is the second highest cause of death of women, and it is the second most common cancer, firstmost among women.” (Heart disease is the leading cause of death.)

This year, to help reach his $5,00 goal and to thank donors, Welsh will flock, or place flamingos in the yard of, the person of the donor’s choice for 24 hours. (Minimum $30 donation, within the Four Points area.) To donate to Welsh’s campaign, visit

At the Walk in Dallas, 2010.

At the Walk in Dallas, 2010.