Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Rain couldn't stop the fight against breast cancer in downtown Buffalo. Thousands of walkers -- all dressed in pink -- raised a record amount of money for research.
The cancer statistics in Western New York are startling. Buffalo has the third worst cancer rate in the state. About 9,500 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year. About 1,300 of those are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Organizers of the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk describe the event as a "movement" not a race.
Donna Monczynski, a who survived breast cancer 15 years ago, says "I have four daughters and a lot of granddaughters that I don't want to have to face this, so I walk for them."
Throughout the crowds, survivor after survivor walked, showing how far the disease has spread.
Monczynski says too many loved ones have faced the same battle, telling Eyewitness News "I used to have everyone's name on the back of my t-shirt, but now I ran out of room."
Throughout the crowd of 10,000, virtually everyone has been touched by the disease.
Terry Sember's company has raised about $3 thousand. Everyone in his office is walking. Sember explains "Everyday you here different stories about different people being impacted and so everybody knows somebody who's been impacted by this terrible disease. We hope just by doing our part we can make a better world."
The Making Strikes Walk brought in a record $650,000 this year.
Gretchen Leffler, the Regional Vice President with the American Cancer Society, says "We're doing advocacy here because we have to fight down in Washington to get more federal money for research and even early detection programs that the CDC funds."
That's money Leffler says will go a long way. Western New Yorkers face the third highest cancer rate in New York, partially because of high obesity and smoking rates.
Leffler hopes to debunk common myths and help fund research. One of the most common misconceptions is that only women need to be on the lookout for breast cancer. Leffler says "Men do get breast cancer. It's a smaller percentage but men need to know any lump is a problem."
But the cheers of supporters at the finish line say it all -- this event goes further than any normal fundraiser.
The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk is about changing the future of our health.
Monczynski says it's inspirational, and "exciting and fills my heart with so much hope."
Channel 7 was a proud co-sponsor of the event. Business First reporter Elizabeth Carey was an emcee.