The rain didn't seem to dampen anyone's spirit Sunday morning as waves of people flooded the South Mountain Recreational Complex in West Orange for the fourth annual North Jersey Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
The 5K run and 5K walk drew more than 7,500 participants, some clad in pink and others wearing T-shirts celebrating loved ones that had survived breast cancer.
For West Orange resident and recent breast cancer victim Sharon Scalora, the endless sea of pink encouraged her fight against the disease.
"You can see all these people here that are survivors, every single one of them has been through it so that helps me," said Scalora. "Knowing that they were able to do it, I will be able to do it. I have to do it."
Scalora, 43, is a mother of three. She found out she had cancer in January and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
"Treatment is hard because there's a feeling that you have cancer and you want to be able to enjoy your life, but when you're in treatment, there's no enjoying of much," she said.
Scalora is one of thousands of women — and men — that get diagnosed with the disease every year.
NBC correspondent for the Today Show, Hoda Kotb, is another one of those women. She was diagnosed in 2007.
As the Official Breast Cancer Survivor Ambassador and Honorary Chair for the event, Kotb stood on stage dancing and singing with all the women that, like her, had survived the disease.
"If you survive breast cancer, or anything big, you've got four words," said Kotb to the crowd. "You Can't Scare Me."
"It helps you realize your life has margins and you stop wasting time," Kotb told Patch. "A lot of times in life you say I'll do it tomorrow I'll do it the next day. Today I was all here, and it's exactly where I wanted to be."
The five hour event raked in an initial $1.3 million for cancer research. Event organizers, though, said they expect final fundraising numbers to reach $1.5 million, a $100,000 increase from last year's event.
"It's hard to believe breast cancer still needs more awareness, but the reality is only 50 percent of women over the age of 40 get an annual mammogram, so we do have to be more aware," said Lisa Gallipoli, executive director of Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, North Jersey affiliate.
"One in every hundred breast cancer patients is a male," she said.
Marc Futterweit, 53, was diagnosed in 2007 and survived after surgery. "You gotta get it out there, this can happen to guys," he said. "I was lucky, not everyone is," said Futterweit, a resident of Wayne, who caught the cancer early. "Everyone has to check themselves."
"This can affect anybody," said 34-year-old survivor Penny Kaye who was diagnosed when she was 29.
As the Head Varsity Lacrosse Coach at Millburn High School, Kaye never thought it could happen to someone under 30 who was very physically active. "I was shocked," she said.
"Part of me wanted to work mentally for myself and the other part of me knew I had to be an example for my kids (at school). I knew if I disappeared I would give them no hope," she said.
Kaye stuck it out at the high school working in the guidance office and as a coach while going through two years of treatment. She also began a Breast Cancer Awareness Club at the school.
"I've always been one of those go-getter type people so I was like alright cancer, you think you're going to mess with me? Bring it on. I'm going to take you down."
Scalora's 14-year-old daughter, Anabelle, is also taking a pro-active stance in the fight against breast cancer. Together with her friend Carly Kriak, 14, they founded the Pink Princesses of West Orange after Scalora was diagnosed.
"We have meetings every month and we talk about how to be aware," said Anabelle, in her bright pink tutu. Pink Princesses, run by co-queens Anabelle and Kirak, is an organization by young women, for all women.
"We don't want anybody to be mom-less," Kriak said.