Friday, February 26, 2010

Princess' Guide: I've Got a Team -- Now What?

D'Lyn's Note: I have to say I was blown away by your sweet comments yesterday! I'll try to answer all your questions -- I know how crazy it can be to sign up for the 3-Day and be wondering what you've gotten yourself into!

So... Now you've decided to form a team. Has that YIKES! feeling hit you yet?

Robin asked if I could share the secrets of leading a large team.

I'd love to.

But I don't know what they are.

I could spend days telling you how not to lead a large team, though.

Seriously, I have made some hugongous mistakes. It's been five 3-Day seasons of trial and error.... But here are a few things I've learned. And please remember this has all evolved over five years -- we certainly didn't come out of the starting gate like this.

1. It's all about the clothes. That first year Lisa and I walked, I had some serious T-shirt envy. There were cutesy T-shirts all over the place. It's not that we didn't look good -- I'm sure we did. But we didn't match. And by Sunday I wasn't even wearing my own bra. But that's another story for another day.

Part of what goes along with having a team is having that cute matchy-matchy thing. If you walk solo or with just a couple of friends, I really suggest you still go for the cute thing! What I've learned though, is that with a team to bounce ideas off of you can come up with some really great ideas. This year our theme went from "A Whole New Way to Get Drunk" (not especially 3-Day appropriate, but it was a catchy new phrase we heard) to "A Whole New Way to Live" to "Wild about A Whole New Way to Live." That transition took place over about three weeks with nine of us involved. Now, Team Tiara is going to use that theme throughout the walk -- from shirts to skirts to tents to walker-stalkers. You are not going to miss us this year!!!

Realizing that everyone's bank account has a different balance, we've always said that everything "costume"-wise is entirely optional. But boy, do we have options. This year our "shopping list" will include tennis skirts, shirts, pants, hair pretties, socks, earrings, etc. We're talking head-to-toe. Can you tell I'm excited???

Something we started in 2007... We choose a color for each day, and everyone wears that color. Because we all want to walk in a wide range of styles -- as long as they're moisture-wicking, we've just named the colors and turned our team loose on Mecca (Academy.) This year, we're wearing Turquoise on Friday (worked great the last two years!), possibly Brown on Saturday and Hot Pink on Sunday. Once again, the level of matchiness is up to each walker. You can go head-to-toe or just wear that color shirt.

This REALLY pays off for a team our size on Friday, when we don't all know each other. What has grown from just Lisa and I has bloomed to a current count of 55 -- and it's still just February. Our goal for 2010 is to have 100 walkers on our team -- and I can tell you I've never even met at least a third of our walkers right now.

That's just crazy. But wearing an oddball color like Turquiose -- especially on Friday -- really helps us spot our friends in the crowd.

One note: While we've been known to don pom-poms and wings and capes and tiaras and goofy earrings and all sorts of other crazy stuff, it's important to remember that you're going to be walking in all this stuff. And you're going to be walking a looooooong ways. And It really could get downright annoying if you're lugging too much cute stuff.

2. We're all adults here. This has kind of been a new revelation for us. If you haven't been able to tell yet -- I'll just confess it right now. I'm seriously ADD, OCD and Type A. It makes for an interesting combination in a leader. Seriously? As of the end of the walk last year, I have hung up my Team Mom hat. And the key phrase that helped me do it? We're all adults.

We're all adults. Whether we train or don't train is entirely up to us. We can't force our team members to train, and we shouldn't be disappointed in them if they don't. Training is something I highly recommend, but it's got to be individualized. Frankly, I don't train at all until my kids go back to school in August, and at that point, my training is limited. But that's another story for another day. In short, if I trained hard, I wouldn't be able to do the walk. My feet pretty much have exactly 60 miles a year left in them.

We're all adults. You shouldn't force each other to take the bus. Okay. There are extenuating circumstances where as a leader you should step in. We had one of these this year. One of our walkers was hopped up on painkillers after a bad fall and a trip to the emergency room. She thought she could walk. We knew she couldn't. We took care of it.

But if your teammates are limping along with a hurt knee or ankle, let them make the choice. I've walked in their shoes. If you're sticking with them, they might feel guilty and that might just make them feel worse. In fact, if you stick by the side of someone who is struggling, chances are it'll mess up your gait -- increasing your own chance of injury. Love on them, hug on them, and let them go. Chances are, if you're not with them, they might just hop on the next van that comes by and beat you to to porta potties. If they don't, if they are fighting this battle and refuse to give up -- it's their choice. Be waiting for them at camp with lots of ice and lots of love -- they're going to need it. All that being said, you're an adult -- you know your friends and you know your body. Do what works best for you.

We're all adults. When we make the commitment to walk in the 3-Day, we make a commitment to raise $2300 for the CURE. This is something I have always struggled with. October has been a month of increasing stress around my house. I have worried over each little number our our team roster. I've run a gazillion scenarios in my head. And I regret that that concern has affected others as well.

No longer. Remember? I took off that Team Mom hat. It's not to say I won't help other walkers who I know need help -- that has been a long-standing tradition on our team, and has been one I hold dear. BUT.... I'm not going to stress about that any longer. We're going to give our team members the tools they need for fundraising success, then we're going to step aside and watch those numbers grow! We'll also have team fundraisers (more about that in a bit), but we're all adults.

3. Fundraising makes the world go round. Fundraising really is what it's all about. And believe me, we have done it all. You don't just wake up on November 1 and decide to raise $100,000. It's a year-round process around here. At this point, if you check out our team page, you see that this fearless leader has a whopping $75 posted beside her name. What you don't see is that I'm working my tail off producing a fundraising calendar. Or that we also have a cookbook, poker nights, bunko nights, gala, auction and a gazillion other things in the works.

We really didn't do team fundraising until last year. We just didn't have the foundation for it. Last year we were given some incredible opportunities and really stepped it up. That continues this year -- our goal is $250,000 -- it's going to take a lot of work to get the job done.

We have put a couple of new policies, for lack of a better word, into place. 2010 ushers in a new age of Transparency for Team Tiara. From now on, fundraising $$$ will be split by a committee made up of at least four team members. When a team member works on a project, they will submit a spreadsheet detailing what they did to help with that project. Then, we will sit down with those sheets and look at all the numbers and come up with a fair, and transparent, way to divide the funds.

We will still follow much the same fundraising policy that's gotten us this far: Funds will be divided amongst walkers who worked on a project, as long as they have not reached the $2300 mark. Once a walker has reached the $2300 mark, any of "their share" of funds that are left will be applied to another walker -- preferably one from out of town who did not have the opportunity to help.

In other words, if you want fundraising $$$, you show up to help. Please note: I did not say those funds would be divided evenly. Someone who spends nine months planning an event will be allotted more funds than a walker who merely shows up to pass out programs. Up to that $2300 mark.

4. I can't see Houston from here.... For what it's worth, I'm a Huge George Strait fan. But I digress. With our team being scattered all over Texas and Oklahoma, we are well aware of the fundraising limitations that some of our walkers face. They can't be here for every lemonade stand and poker night we host. For that reason, we are giving them the tools to host those events on their own turf. Additionally, we have several fundraisers they can participate in from afar. Our calendar and cookbook sales are ideal examples. They'll be able to sell those wherever they are.

5. Use what you know. The crazy thing about being an adult is that you weren't just planted where you are. You grew up somewhere. And all those experiences along the way made you who you are. Use them!!! As for myself, I was a in 4-H for 10 years. (Head, Heart, Hands & Health all the Way!) Went to A&M, worked in PR, got married, had two precious babies and landed myself in a couple of home-based businesses. I sold Homemade Gourmet for a few years, and then took on Arbonne. My Honey says I wasn't nearly vain enough to sell makeup -- he's right. But through that process, I did some pretty cool things. I was one of HG's up-and-coming reps or whatever, one of their top recruiters, and one of their top saleschicks. I LOVED it. And I had absolutely no idea that God was training me for this. That all the leadership meetings and stuff I went to would come to fruition on the 3-Day stage.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't pull from that experience. Whether it's how to make a phone call or challenge our team or what -- I use it each and every day. Sometimes in more ways than others. Last year, on the walk, we walked past the home of a girl I'd sold HG with. Guess what? Our entire team got to use her potty! It flushed!! And she had SOAP next to a SINK with running water!!! How cool is that???

Seriously, use what you know. Draw on your experiences and what God had taught you.

5. Marketing isn't just for Dr. Pepper. Before I had babies, I was in PR. And I learned how to write a press release or two. And somewhere along the way, I learned about the importance of marketing and name recognition.

When you hear Team Tiara, I want you think of that crazy team from the 3-Day -- that team that's fun and hip and has really cute matchy-matchy clothes. A group that you'd love to be a part of. When people from my neighborhood hear the name Team Tiara, I want them to think of a Godly group of men and women who work hard to find a cure -- but beyond that who really have a heart for serving God and his precious children who are facing this beast we call breast cancer.

Team Tiara is in the process of "growing up." For us to travel this road that God has put before us, we're going to need that name recognition -- in a good way. You can read more about all that on our website at

6. No Drama, Drama, Drama.... Team Tiara will no longer authorize the use of ambulances, IV's or emergency rooms. From here on out, we are a drama-free team. Seriously? Our team members have been given incredible care by the 3-Day staff and EMS the last couple of years, but we'd rather not go there again. On Friday of this last year, we had far more drama than a 10-year series of walks would allow for. We've had our fill.

5. It's not all about me. When your team gets to be this big, you're going to have all sorts of stories. When we started, this was a little team walking in honor / memory of my Mom. At this point, we have several survivors on our team, team members who have lost Moms to breast cancer and other illnesses, and all sorts of people with all sorts of stories. That doesn't mean that it's any less a walk in tribute to my Mom. It means it's a bigger journey in tribute to much more.

But it's something I try to be very alert about. I still pass out the little tiaras with Mom's picture to walkers who have blessed me or who are struggling. But that's not a team thing. It's a D'Lyn thing, and I think that's okay.

The 3-Day is such a journey -- not just physically exhausting but emotional, too. I think it's important to remember that everyone around you is in a struggle. There are as many stories as there are walkers. I just think it's important to be aware of that, to give people space when they need it, hugs when they need it, and unconditional love.

6. You're wearing Turquoise, but who are you?? A challenge we have, especially on Friday of the walk, is that there are all these random Tiaras running around, and we have no idea who they are. We do have a Thursday night get-together, but that only gets you so far. To help that, we've established Boobie Buddies this year. I'm totally jazzed about this. Every walker on our team has been given the name of someone to encourage. Many of us live in the same neighborhood, so I tried to pair up people in the bubble with people outside of the bubble. People who had walked before with those who hadn't. Our team members only know the name of the person they are sending notes to -- the walker they are receiving notes from is a mystery. We'll have a big reveal the night before the walk - which should help everyone feel like they know more people on the team.

7. You can't do it all. Dude. Hard lesson to learn. But I think I'm there. This year, we had a leadership meeting -- we got away for a weekend and spent some serious time planning everything out. The entire team was invited, but only nine were able to make it. Perfect. Enough to have ideas bouncing around. Not so many we got bogged down in details.

For me, this was hugely freeing. Different team members are in charge of different things. Fundraisers, walker-stalkers.... You name it, we got it. And the payoff? I think everyone on this team "owns" it more than ever before!!

8. Let Go and Let God. If I could have looked into the future and seen what this team would become, I don't know that I would have believed it. And frankly, I might have run away scared out of my mind. But I tell you what, God has placed people and experiences in our paths these last few years that have led us to where we are. We have an insane desire to help women who have breast cancer -- women God has placed in our paths. If you step back and let God take the lead, He's always going to do some pretty neat things.

Whew. That, in a nutshell is pretty much all I know.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Princess' Guide: Find a Friend

Team Tiara rocks. Did you know that??

2010 marks five years of our walking in the DFW Breast Cancer 3-Day. To date, we have raised over $290,000 for breast cancer research, education, awareness and services.

No way would have I seen that coming when Lisa and I walked in 2006!!!

This year, the 3-Day powers-that-be have asked me to serve as an Online Ambassador. How cool is that?

So... In my first "official" Ambassador-type post, I'm going to tell you about something very near and dear to my heart -- friends. And I'm going to tell you why you need to walk with friends. And I'm going to share a really cool surprise with you!!!

In late 2005, I was talking to my friend Lisa when she asked what I was doing. Not wanting to sound like the couch-potato I really am, I told here I was thinking about doing this breast cancer walk. Lisa jumped on the idea, and I was stuck! SIXTY MILES! YIKES!!!

Little did I know that I'd just been pulled into something that would change my life on such a huge scale.

Walking with Lisa that first year rocked. Maybe not all of it, because I was really hurting. Tendonitis in my left ankle make my foot creak, and not in a good way. But sharing that time with Lisa and that experience with her was HUGE. I can't imagine having walked without my friend.

Once we had crossed the finish line and closed the book on 2006, I knew we needed to make this a team event for 2007. I had no idea the path that I would travel in the next several months. At that point, I had no idea we would be moving back to Houston, leaving old friends, making new friends, or that we would soon lose my Mom. I simply knew we could raise more money if we had more people on our team.

And we walked. And we raised $38,000. A team of 13 friends held my hands and dried my tears. Lisa walked with us again. And that Suzi Bruin walked every single step with me. All 60 miles. Never quitting; never leaving me. I can't imagine what it would have been like to walk that walk alone. I can't imagine not having someone there to walk that walk with.

2008.... Wow. 60 team members raised $125,000. It was incredible. The friendships grew stronger. Our team began to grow as a group of people with THIS in common -- not just as a group of people who somehow knew D'Lyn.

2009.... 40 team members -- $100,000. We took a hit alongside the economy. But you know what? Breast cancer didn't. Breast cancer doesn't care who you are or how much money you make. It doesn't care where you live or work or shop or dance.

Our numbers may have been fewer, but you can't say the same about our spirit. This team was being fortified by God to do great things. This team was beginning to evolve. And the friendships were just growing stronger and stronger.

So now we come to 2010. Team Tiara is 54 walkers strong, and it's only February. This team has grown beyond my wildest expections -- and God gets the glory for that. To Him who is able to do more than we ask or imagine. He has brought people to this team who have a heart for finding a CURE. Those hearts are so big!!

I know this is sounding like a commercial for Team Tiara -- and I guess it kinda is. I'd love nothing more than for us to have a HUGE team this year. And if you want to join in with us, come along.

But if you don't, that's okay. We'll still love you.

But I do urge you to Find a Friend to walk with. The highs in life are much sweeter if you're walking beside someone. And the tears... Yes, you will shed tears... The tears don't sting so much if you have someone to share those with as well.

At the end of the day, having a tentmate to visit with, a teammate to sit in line with at the showers, a friend to eat dinner or dance or shop with... (Yes! There's Shopping!) Being with friends -- it's all good.

So here's the promised surprise. I know for some of you it will come as no surprise at all. BUT....

Through March 9, you can register to walk in the 3-Day and get a discount on your registration fee. Go to Click on "Join Team" Then, all you have to do is type in the discount code "RESOLVE."

Like, I RESOLVE to help find a CURE. I RESOLVE to lose 20 pounds. I RESOLVE to raise money for research. I RESOLVE to spend a weekend making a difference. I RESOLVE to help annihilate breast cancer before my girls are old enough to get a mammogram. I RESOLVE to spend time with friends. I RESOLVE to change my life. I RESOLVE to tell everyone I know about what I'm doing. I RESOLVE to wear pink proudly. I RESOLVE to sleep in a tent and shower in a converted semi truck. I RESOLVE to help increase awareness of breast cancer in men. I RESOLVE to do self-exams. I RESOLVE to schedule my mammogram.

See? You can do it. And you can do it $25 cheaper as long as you register by March 9.

Do it for your family.

Do it for yourself.

Just Do It.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

No Snow Flurry Here -- Just a Blog Flurry

I'm sad.

So sad.

No snow here.

But our house in McKinney with the HUGE backyard?

Yeah. Lots of snow.

But I'm also happy today -- in a bizarre sort of way.

My sweet friend Ruthie went Home to be with Jesus yesterday afternoon. I'm so, so sad for all of us still here -- especially Jimmy, Kelly and Chacho and their families. But at the same time, I'm so, so happy for Ruthie.

Exciting News!!!

Hello Friends and Family!

I wanted to take a moment to let you know about some AWESOME things happening with Team Tiara!

In the five years that we've been walking in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, God has led us to cross paths with many people who have been touched by breast cancer and need help. And over time, we've all come to realize that this isn't just about three days of walking to find a CURE for breast cancer. It's become far more than that -- it's become a ministry.

With that calling, we began to realize it was time for Team Tiara to "grow up" and become an organization that could offer "real time" help to those who are hurting. To make that possible, we have become a non-profit corporation -- operating under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

Team Tiara will still be major force in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure! We currently have 52 walkers signed up for 2010, and are well on our way to raising our goal of $250,000!

At the same time, our new non-profit status gives us the flexibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus by meeting needs God brings our way. I can't tell you how excited I am about that! This is something that has been on my "radar screen" for over two years! And to see it come to fruition is so, so very cool!

What does this mean for you? We'll still need your help. Finding a CURE is as important as it's ever been. As always, you'll be able to donate online at Or you can donate to the 3-Day with a check made out to the "Breast Cancer 3-Day."

If you choose to donate to our mission, you can make your check out to "Team Tiara."

Either way, your donations are tax-deductible. And either way, your donations will be used to fund research, education, awareness and services.

I know this is getting a bit long, but please hang with me a couple of seconds more. We need your help with a couple more things.

First, please keep us in your prayers. Please pray that everything we do and every dollar we raise is used to glorify God. Without Him, we have nothing.

Second, we need your recipes. We are publishing a calendar and a recipe book as part of our fundraising, and while we've got the calendar under control, we need some help with the recipes. You'll find more about that on the next post down.

Thank you so much for all you do to support us! Team Tiara could never have made it this far wtihout you and your love and support. We're not done yet -- we've got a lot to do. But I want you to know that you are loved and appreciated.

I walk for my girls,
Team Tiara Captain
DFW 2006-2010

Recipes Needed!!

Hello All!!!
Team Tiara TRIED to get a Cookbook fundraisers off the ground a couple of years ago, but to no avail. THIS TIME, we have Karen Suomela and Stephanie Cook at the helm and are ROCKIN' on the cookbook!!! But they need your help! Read on....

To help Team Tiara reach our team goal of $250,000 we are going to be selling A Team Tiara Cookbook honoring those who fought breast cancer, survived breast cancer and all of us who support finding a cure for breast cancer!

I need your help!! I need RECIPES! If you have a tried and true favorite that you would like to share please email it to me! If you have a family member or friend who has a favorite recipe to share please email it to me!! If you or someone you know who has been challenged with cancer please share a recipe or two. We would like to recognize these friends by publishing their recipes in our cookbook.

Information to send:
Recipe Category (appetizer, entrée, dessert, casserole, etc.)
Submitted by make note if Breast Cancer Survivor or in Memory of
Special Notes/Memo

Please submit your recipe by February 25th. We are hoping to have these ready for Mother's Day!

My email address is

I look forward to your recipes! Most important I look forward to honoring those who have fought, survived and those who support finding a cure. More information will be sent once the cookbooks are complete to let you know how you can purchase one to share with your friends and families!

Thank you so much for all of your support!
Stephanie Cook