It was a sea of bright pink T-shirts, flowers, signs and beads Sunday as more than 30,000 people gathered to reflect on the far-reaching impact of breast cancer.
While some celebrated their own survival, others walked at the 20th Annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in memory of loved ones they have lost. Still others, whose lives have not been so dramatically affected by cancer, participated to help raise the race's goal of $3.1 million.
"I am in awe of the women here and the survivors. How the community rallies together to help find a cure is amazing. We are so appreciative," said Sue Parks, president of the Susan G. Komen Orange County chapter.
Miss USA Alyssa Campanella walked for her grandmother, who recently received a clean bill of health after battling breast cancer.
"Breast cancer affects everyone in your family, not just women. I walk because I want other granddaughters to feel as good as I do today about my grandmother," she said.
TV's Dr. Mehmet Oz was also in attendance. He told the crowd the best way to prevent breast cancer from taking over is regular self-breast examinations and said there are other ways to help keep the disease from surfacing.
"Obviously cigarette smoking, family history is important, but what you can do right now, today, is reduce your waist size, belly fat," said Dr. Oz. "Fat cells stimulate breast cancer cells. Doing this can prevent 100,000 cases a year—just by taking care of belly fat."
Komen officials say that this year 208,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer and that 40,000 will die from the disease. Early detection is key. O.C. native and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), who is working to get affordable health care for all women, said, "I want clinics in areas that are accessible so we can go in and get detected and get saved."
At the close of the race Sunday, the event had already raised $2.6 million. Fundraising continues through Oct. 31.