BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi Town Green was taken over by a lot of heart, a big celebration, and tons of pink Saturday morning. It was the devastating disease of breast cancer - and in particular, defeating it - that brought out so many people.
With their sights set on defeating breast cancer, the largest ever Making Strides crowd took to downtown Biloxi to share stories, strength, and inspiration, and to have a blast at the 2016 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k.
"We're making it more like a celebration festival this year," said Liz Gaulke with the American Cancer Society.
Gaulke believes the overwhelming turnout is a testament to how many people the disease affects every year.
"I think they do it because, again, they know somebody who's had breast cancer. We all do," said Gaulke.
But, the positivity of the event shines a bright light on such a dark spot in many people's lives.
There was pink everywhere, even spilling onto the coat of one of the smallest walkers at the event; Kristy Goss's dog, Bentley. Goss says for her, the day is all about remembering her grandmother, who lost her battle with cancer last spring.
"It's heartbreaking but at the same time, just so wonderful to see so many people coming together," said Goss.
The crowd of people all connected by one disease is something that many of the survivors find so comforting.
"At the time you think you're all by yourself, you're lonely, that's it. But there's so many of us," said Marilyn Tucker, a 44-year survivor of breast cancer.
However, many of the participants had suffered, fought, and still lost those dearest to them.
"My husband passed away from colon cancer. I had breast cancer and I just think that everybody needs to support it," said Diane Burton, who was declared cancer-free in 1985.
And with a cure as the goal, many of survivors are determined to keep marching forward.
"It's always good to celebrate life in survival and to keep fighting," said Susan Miller, four years after winning an intense battle with two different cancers.
Saturday morning marked the 11th year for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k. According to organizers, 7,500 participants raised $200,000.