Pink replaced purple yesterday on the parking lot and streets surrounding Ravens stadium, as nearly 20,000 walkers, runners and volunteers joined Maryland's 11th annual Race for the Cure.
The crowd definitely favored the color that has come to symbolize the battle against breast cancer. They sported pink caps, scarves and ribbons and kept the rain away under pink umbrellas and ponchos. Estelle Hynson, 62, dyed her hair pink, carried a cane that her husband had painted pink and wore a pink feather boa. In deference to the Ravens, her family did travel to the race in a purple bus.
"This color shows people that I am a survivor and that I am hopeful," said Hynson of Glen Burnie.
Sara Saron of Baltimore, who was 34 when her breast cancer was diagnosed four years ago, said, "This annual sea of pink shirts and hats is both inspirational and emotional for me because it marks every year that I have survived."
The event, one of more than 100 races nationwide organized by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, is expected to raise more than $1 million in Maryland for research, education and services for women battling the disease.
The persistent, chilly drizzle and the early hour did not dampen the enthusiasm for the cause. When she awoke at 6 a.m. and heard the rain, Chloe Price briefly considered missing her first Race for the Cure. She quickly changed her mind and by the end of her walk, she had promised to volunteer next year.
"I think I will do this forever," said Price, a Baltimore resident who walked in memory of her mother and her aunt. "It was terribly inspirational to see all these people here to help each other."
The rain-slick sidewalks slowed many runners to a walk, including Maryland first lady Kendel Ehrlich, who said she completed the 5K course "at a pretty good pace."
"We need to raise awareness and make sure we support the survivors," Ehrlich said.
Ehrlich wore an armband that read "Stephanie Evans the Prayer Bear Team," and she carried a teddy bear, a gift from Charles Evans in memory of his wife, who participated in the race for eight years and was the 2002 Breast Cancer Survivor of the Year. She died in November at the age of 59.
Ehrlich delivered a message of prevention to the crowd, urging women to perform regular self-examinations and schedule annual physicals and mammograms.
"We are all susceptible to this disease," she said.
The weather did not deter 53-year-old Yoko Pepera from running. The Tulsa, Okla., resident and two-time survivor has raced for a cure in 40 states in the past three years. She is determined to hit the remaining 10 states in her crusade against the disease. She ran in Tampa, Fla., two weeks ago and will be in New York this month and Nashville, Tenn., in November.
"They don't have this race in Alaska, but the foundation has told me they would organize a run for me, even if it's only two people," she said. "I want this to become the race for the disease we cured."
Many participants had pinned badges on their backs in celebration of survivors and in memory of those lost to breast cancer. Some badges were filled with names. Many simply said "My Mom."
Nine members of the Scanlon family walked in memory of a wife, mother and grandmother.
"It helps because it makes me feel we are doing something for her," said John Scanlon of Severna Park, who lost his wife, Pat, to the disease five years ago. She was 56.
The three daughters of Anna Simpson Jones of Philadelphia, who died in August at age 64, traveled to the event from Bowie, Philadelphia and Baltimore County.
"Our mom would be pleased that we came here, and she would have pledged money to the walk," said Susan Okojie of Owings Mills. "We are all at risk, and it's a good idea to raise money for research."
Edith Simpson, 98, of Ellicott City walked in the event for the first time last year, six weeks after undergoing breast cancer surgery. A recent fall kept her from walking yesterday, but she said she would not miss the event.
"I am so thankful it all turned out well for me," she said.
Donna Krug of New Windsor, a nurse at St. Agnes Comprehensive Breast Center, said she was walking for all of her patients.
"It is important to show support and unity," Krug said. "They are not alone in this battle."
Darlene Stewart, who at 66 is a 38-year survivor, amassed the largest family group in her Mean Lene's Posse. About 80 people joined her in the one-mile fun walk and pledged nearly $400 to the foundation.
"This day is important because it celebrates survivors and shows that we are all working hard to make a cure happen," said Stewart of Baltimore.