MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Thousands of South Floridians woke up early Saturday morning to take part in the 16th annual Susan G. Komen Miami/Fort Lauderdale Race for the Cure.

The Race for the Cure began at 8:30 a.m. in front of Bayfront Park in downtown Miami although the crowds started to arrive around sunrise.

Runners, walkers and supporters took part in the often emotional, inspiring and informative event to raise breast cancer research funds, honor survivors and remember the people who didn’t survive. The race/walk began at Biscayne Boulevard at NE 3rd Street and looped around downtown Miami.

“It’s an inspiration to be here.  We’re all sisters and we have a special bond,” said survivor Maria Hernandez.

Survivor Deidre Young agreed, “There are so many other women that have followed the same journey I have.”

Many survivors wept carrying roses and making their way to the stage, for the annual survivors walk.

Families cheered and cried for their loved ones who are winning the battle against breast cancer.

“My mom is a survivor and this is her tenth year we’re celebrating,” said Nicole Brown. “My grandmother died of breast cancer in 1988.”

Survivors coming over the 5k finish line were greeted with hugs and pink ribbons.

Race participant Ginnie Dreyer said she was in perfect health until getting her diagnosis of breast cancer.

“I have no family history,” she said. “It put me to the wall, but I’m doing well.”

The race featured an inspiring ceremony with more than 1,000 breast cancer survivors who gathered near the main stage prior to the start of the race. Those inspirational survivors then took part in a procession to the starting line. Many women spoke to CBS4 News about their years of survival which stretched from between 26 years to just 3 days.

Slideshow: Behind the Scenes of Komen Race for the Cure

CBS 4 had its own team walking and running in the 5K Komen race.

“It was strenuous but we did it and it was amazing,” said CBS 4 team participant and associated producer Stephanie Sanchez.

The race is personal for CBS 4 team captain Carmen Diaz who said she has lost close friends to the disease.

“Until these things happened to me I didn’t take it personally,” she said. “Now this is more than just a job, it’s part of my life.”

“One of the things we like about Komen is that most of the money stays here local,” commented CBS 4 Neighbors for Neighbors chief Nelly Rubio who was also a race participant.

The race takes place every October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It included the 5K walk and run, one-mile fun run and tot run for kids aged 2-7.

Click here to find out who won the men and women divisions.

More than 20,000 people pre-registered for the race this year. The South Florida leg of the national movement helped raise $1.6 million for breast cancer research.

Since 1996, the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Komen affiliate has raised more than $11 million for breast cancer screening, treatment and research programs.

CBS4, a proud sponsor of the race, aired a live 3-hour special. If you missed it, you can watch it here.


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