Indomitable spirit, strength in numbers and hope for a breast cancer cure melded in Riverside Park on Sunday for the 22nd annual CIBC Run for the Cure.
More than 1,000 participants - ranging from tiny toddlers to septuagenarian survivors - rallied between the bandshell and starting point early in the day.
Simply labelling the run a fundraiser doesn't do justice to the collective spirit of the moment.
"It's an amazing day," said Starr Webb, co-director of the Kamloops event.
Connie Hazelwood, featured as the "survivor speaker," motivated the crowd by briefly recounting her experience with breast cancer and the importance of support from family and friends. Her husband would tell her, "You're on the right side of the grass, Connie."
"This is a fight we're all going to win for women everywhere," she told them.
With a little help from their mom, twins Claire and Rachel, 3, sprouted angel wings in support of their Auntie Colleen Gropp.
"It's pretty awesome," Gropp said, smiling as she posed with the kids for family photos.
Tracy Levins and her "really good friends" stood out in sparkling cowboy hats and bling, following the Run for the Cure custom of anything in pink.
"I lost my mom to breast cancer," she said in sombre contrast to the outfits. "We've been doing this since she was sick," seven or eight years ago. "She's our inspiration."
Team HVMO - which stands for Highland Valley Mill Optimization lacked nothing for inspiration, either. They raised more than $26,000, cobbling together raffle proceeds, pop-can refunds, corporate and vendor contributions.
They normally raise about $10,000, said Ashlee Gerlock.
"We just had such a large team this year."
As a whole, the run raised more than $179,000, a slight dip from last year, Webb said.
"We're certainly not disappointed at all and that (sum) could come up by the end of the year," she said.
Forest Machek, one of more than 140 volunteers running the event, was part of the "trivia squad," spinning a game pinwheel with myths and facts for people to puzzle over for a prize. No, underarm deodorant doesn't cause breast cancer, but some myths prevail.
"A lot people think that a mammogram is related to increased risk," she said, adding that it represents a one in one million chance, very low odds relative to potential lifesaving value.
The Spirit Warriors, the dragonboat team comprised of cancer survivors, were among countless teams reuniting for the run.
"We work hard, yet we have lots of fun and laughter out on the water," said Colleen Strongren.
Joanne Blanchard was 67 when she called up to ask about joining the paddling team, wondering if she was young enough; now she's 72.
"Practice is on Tuesday," she was told. "Be there."
"It's a support group. Being on the water is such a cleansing feeling," she added.
"It's the best thing that ever came out of breast cancer."
Lenora Gates, a Vancouver volunteer with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and an 11-year cancer survivor, was buoyed by the spirit of the turnout.
"I'm running for my future and I'm running for your future," she said, alluding to the promising progress of research.
B.C. has a 91.8 per cent survival rate among women diagnosed with breast cancer, the highest in the country, she noted. The rate peaked in 1986, has fallen 30 per cent since and is now at its lowest since 1950.
"I'm going to tell you that's phenomenal," Gates said.
A pre-event warmup for the one or five-kilometre walk/run set in motion a bobbing sea of predominantly pink and white. While they hoped for sunshine, they were happy there was no rain.