Thousands participate in 2014 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
Thousands of people descended on downtown Indianapolis Saturday morning to celebrate breast cancer survivors and to honor those who have been lost to the disease.
For some at the race, it's about celebrating victory over what can be a devastating illness. There's a lot of laughter - and tears. The Pink Parade groups survivors into categories of one-year survivors all the way up to 60 years, and they each have a story to tell.
"Oh it felt great and I give God all the honor, glory and praise because I know it was him who brought me through it," said Pauline Bussey, who's survived breast cancer for more than 40 years.
This is Tonya Trotter's first walk in the parade. She celebrates her first year in remission in just weeks overcoming her cancer and a bought of homelessness. "I'm doing wonderful today. I am so excited to be a part of this. It's just like so emotional to see people supporting this for a good cause," said Trotter.
Celeste Meijer is a new survivor. She was caught by surprise by her diagnosis last July because she had no prior family history of breast cancer.
"Obviously when you just go in for a mammogram and they call you back in, I just kept thinking, 'oh, you're okay.' But then they told me I had breast cancer," she said.
But Celeste says it was her support network that helped her through those tough times.
"I will never forget when I went to meet with surgeon - I had 12 people with me! They said - 'oh, I guess we're gonna need a conference room. This has never happened before!'" she recalled.
"It's definitely a family disease. I would never want to go through it without my faith, my family and friends," she said.
Being around thousands of other survivors is a big boost, too.
"It's a general camaraderie. I was just at the doctor's office last week and in the elevator, a lady introduced herself as a survivor. We just hugged each other," she said.
While Celeste calls breast cancer a "horrific disease," she was quick to add that "so much has happened now to further the cause. Just the changes we've seen in the past eight months mean a much greater chance for survival."
Celeste will mark her one-year anniversary in July and "I hope I see another 20 or 30 years!"
But for others, it's about honoring the memory of someone they've lost to breast cancer.
In 2012, WTHR interviewed race participant Kim Hobbs, who painted her poodle, Oscar, pink for the occasion.
"I am pink and proud and I will tell anybody about my story," she said, with a big smile. "There's hope out there and there's support. My faith in Jesus is number one and my attitude is number two and my doctors are number three...I love every day and I live it to the fullest."
Kim lost her battle with breast cancer last year. So on Saturday, a group of her friends were walking in honor of her. It was an emotional day for Jim Fearin, a close friend.
"You saw in her message that early detection was so important. She wanted to spread that message. She also saw this as an opportunity to carry her faith platform. She was just so special. We want to take a moment to remember her family because they miss her dearly. Kim was special. We miss her dearly and we just know her mission was to spread her faith and spread awareness the same way," said Fearin.
It was Oscar the dog's tenth walk, and Fearin said it took six cans of pink paint to cover him.
"It was Kim's idea [to paint the dog pink]. He's been a big hit here every year," said Fearin.
"I was first diagnosed in 2000 and it was cured and it came back in 2012 and it's masticized in my bones, but I'm still doing it. I ran the race today," said Jackie Sproull, a breast cancer patient.
Those who fight breast cancer every day remind us that when the pink party is over, the daily work to find a cure continues.
This was more than a race offering events for the entire family from the kids dash to valuable resources about early detection and breast cancer support. "We're able to take them through the next step, which is diagnosis, biopsy and hopefully get them on their way to treatment," said Nancy Lewis, a nurse with ICAP. For those remembering loved ones lost, there's the Wall of Hope to leave them a special message as thousands of others continue the fight.
"The Race for the Cure is every day. It's not that one day. It's every day and every day a women gets diagnosed, she gets treated. She receives chemo she inspires and she goes on every day. That's one day and so I think the Race for the Cure. It's wonderful; it's magical and in a way and it does so much good. But I think we need to honor all the women all of the time that are doing this every day," said Dr. R. Thomas Schmidt, St. Vincent breast surgeon.
Course map - This is a large event that attracts thousands of participants to downtown Indy. Be aware of traffic restrictions this morning.