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Thousands of people braved the chilly weather to join the Race for a Cure in downtown Knoxville. WBIR

(WBIR-Knoxville) Thousands of runners turned downtown Knoxville into a sea of pink Saturday morning.

Despite the cold start to the morning, runners and walkers laced up their shoes to stomp out breast cancer for Knoxville's "Race for the Cure."

As the blow horn sounded at 8:30 am, the massive pack of runners started the 5-K through downtown Knoxville.

The race celebrates survivors and remembers those who died from the disease. Organizers hope to raise thousands of dollars for cancer research and support.

Many of the runners and walkers have either lost a loved from breast cancer, know someone currently battling breast cancer, or know someone who has won the breast cancer fight.

"My mother-in-law has breast cancer and is a survivor of three years," said Mecca Baker, who lives in Knoxville.

Heather Roberts of Spring City also has a personal connection.

"My best friend's mom has had breast cancer and she, luckily, survived. We actually have a teacher who's mother and she got it," she said.

Those who participated in the race as breast cancer survivors sported a bink race bib, to identify their successful fight against the disease. Becky Ashe of Knoxville and Kelli McKinnish of Canton, NC were among that group.

"I'm a four-year cancer survivor," Ashe said. "As a matter of fact, it was four years last month that I was cancer free."

McKinnish added, "Six years ago they told me I only had five years to live, but because of the Race for the Cure and the cancer societies across the board, drugs were developed to keep me alive."

Amy Dunaway with Knoxville's Susan G. Komen Foundation explained how widespread breast cancer is.

"One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer," she said. "And we at Komen say the other seven ladies know her."

Dunaway said 75 percent of the money raised from the Race for the Cure will stay in East Tennessee, with the remaining 25 percent being used for cancer research.

Cancer survivors Ashe and McKinnish were excited to see the big turnout for the event in spite of the cold weather.

McKinnish said, "It makes me cry," said McKinnish. "It makes me grateful for every minute that I draw in a breath because I could not be doing that right now were it not for things like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure."

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