Tina McDonough’s Valley
Girls & Guys! Team is the
No. 1 Susan G, Komen
fundraising team in the
country. An amazing 75
percent of her team’s walkers
come back every year.
See the video at
After slogging 60 miles on foot in 2007 for Seattle’s
Susan G. Komen 3-Day Race event to fight breast
cancer, Tina McDonough’s head told her, never
again. But when breast cancer claimed her friend’s
life two months later, McDonough’s heart told her to
walk to the ends of the Earth for a cure.
Her friend, Michelle Brown, had been living with
breast cancer for four years and had talked McDonough into joining the event. Brown’s group of
four walkers raised $11,945 that year, “but it was
hard,” McDonough recalls. McDonough viewed it
as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But when Brown
died at age 38, McDonough’s reluctance faded.
“I watched her 12-year-old daughter and her hus-
band fall apart. Attending her funeral was one of the
hardest things I’ve ever done,” McDonough says. “I
knew I had to do something, so I started a team to
walk in her memory.”
That team, Valley Girls & Guys!, is now the No. 1
fundraising team for the Susan G. Komen organiza-
tion in the United States. Since 2008, the team has
raised $1.4 million for the organization, the largest
nonprofit source of breast cancer research funding
outside of the U.S. government. In addition to re-
search, the organization’s funding goes toward free
mammograms for thousands of women, treatment
assistance programs, and a survivor helpline.
This year, Valley Girls & Guys! will have 168 walkers, up from 38 when the team was launched five
years ago. The average team has 10 members. Even
more remarkable: 75 percent of walkers on McDonough’s team return every year.
“Most teams get only about one-third of their
walkers to return,” she says. That’s because each
participant is required to raise $2,300 in order
to walk, and the walk itself takes over three days.
“Twenty miles of walking a day is grueling and takes
quite a bit of preparation.”
Laura Richardson, a childhood friend of Mc-
Donough who has been on her team from the start,
says McDonough makes it easy. “With Tina, no walk-
er is left behind. If you want to walk, she’ll make that
happen. She’ll encourage you. The money portion
isn’t so scary,” says Richardson.
The key, Richardson says, is McDonough’s passion. “She has the ability to keep people engaged.
Walking to the Light
BY TRACEY C. VELT
Tina McDonough RE/MAX Select, Renton, Wash.