(KMTR) -- Celebrating breast cancer survivors, remembering victims and spreading hope to those still fighting, thousands from around the Northwest took to the streets and trails of Eugene
Sunday morning, “racing for a cure.”
Around 6,000 people crowded around Autzen Stadium in Eugene Sunday, October 23rd, 2011, for the second annual Susan G Komen Eugene Race for the Cure event.
The whole crowd, made up of cancer survivors, runners, walkers and volunteers, raised a total of around $365,000, about $115,000 more than 2010’s inaugural Eugene “Race.”
Even though this is just the second Race for the Cure event in Eugene, for those involved, it’s clear that the passion to fight back against breast cancer is huge and continues to grow.
“We all have an obligation to take our part and, you know, push for a cure,” says Kris Knox, a breast cancer survivor from Salem.
“Every time I hear that you know somebody else is diagnosed, the first thing that always goes through my head is ‘we're not done yet, we're not done yet,’” says Knox.
Race time in Track Town U.S.A. can come almost once a week. But for this Eugene race, for thousands of people, the passion to run turns pink and personal.
“Cancer touches, you know, all of us,” says Steve Grube of Veneta.
A breast cancer survivor running with her daughter Sunday morning, Marnie O’Malley says, “It’s important to realize that it's becoming more common.”
Racing for the Cure, a sea of pink could be seen up and down Leo Harris Parkway and along Pre’s Trail during the and run and walk.
Most everyone at the Race has a connection to cancer.
For Celeste Rossetto Dickey of Eugene, an 8-year survivor, running is a symbol of winning the fight.
“There's hope, and things will get better,” says Dickey.
For Rick Merlino of Roseburg, the footsteps are for Mom’s like his, Mary Merlino, a cancer survivor.
“It was a pretty rough time, we got through it and now we're like I say, now we're here support everybody else,” says Merlino.
For Debra Lasselle, a nearly 6-year cancer survivor from Washougal, Washington, the race is a chance for the first time before it was too late,
“I owe my life to Susan Koman,” says Lasselle. “If it wasn't for her... A lot of us wouldn't have survived. What her sister did is awesome and its just gratitude for them.”
While the 12,000 feet don’t step in unison or finish at the same time, they all step together, fighting for people like Stephanie Sanders of Brownsville, who continues to battle cancer.
“I'm just grateful to be able to walk, to have enough energy to do that,” says Sanders.
Together, the race continues.
“For the incredible number of people that know somebody, whether it's a friend, a family member, a co-worker that's been diagnosed, come for them,” says Knox.
With hopes of making everyone a survivor one day.
“Yeah!! Thank you, it's very fun,” shouts Grace McCarry, a cancer survivor from Eugene, who crossed the finish line Sunday.
All of the money raised goes to breast cancer education, screening and treatment programs. Komen Oregon is already planning a third annual Race for the Cure event in Eugene. So far, no dates have been set, but the event will likely happen once again in the early Fall.