June 7, 2014 at 10:25 am

Race for the Cure: Detroit awash in a sea of pink

DetroitAlyssa Garvin was just 12 years old when she lost her mother Michelle to breast cancer in 2005. Her sister was 9 and her brother 3.

“Not everybody knew she had cancer,” said Garvin, a Macomb Twp. resident. “She was really quiet about it so it was a shock to a lot of people.”

On Saturday, Garvin and nine family members remembered her mother by joining in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to support awareness, treatment and research into the disease.

“It’s nice to see that there’s this many people here supporting the same cause,” Garvin said looking out over a sea of pink. “It makes it more positive even though it’s a horrible thing.”

Thousands came to Chene Park decked out in pink, carrying signs and memorializing on their backs the names of their loved ones who struggled with the disease and, in many cases, succumbed to it.

Priscilla Latta, of Detroit, was walking for her cousin Ava Paylor Elliot, who was just diagnosed in December with breast cancer, received treatment and is now cancer free. Latta’s neighbor, however, died of the disease.

“It’s a wonderful think to see, to see all the survivors,” said Latta, whose team was called Ava’s Angels. “It’s my first time coming and it won’t be my last.”

Prior to taking to East Jefferson for the 5K run and walk, participants gathered in the Chene Park amphitheater to rally for the cause and show their support to the survivor guard, women who had beaten breast cancer for as many as 50 years.

Survivors Corrine Carraway, 55, and Jacline Niesen, 72, hugged each other in solidarity.

“It’s sharing all the sisterhood, the survival, everything, we’ve been through,” said Carraway, a 15-year survivor from Brownstown.

“You’re connecting with all of these survivors and the people who have been there with you,” said Niesen, an 8-year survivor from Gibralter.

Gov. Rick Snyder, U.S. Rep. John Dingell and U.S. Sen. Carl Levin were among those who spoke at the ceremony ahead of the race.

Levin reminded participants that the only finish line is a cure.

“We don’t want to lose any more mothers and sisters and grandmas. We don’t want to lose any more friends,” Levin told the crowd. “Every single step you take is a step toward victory.”

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Corrine Callawy, right, 55, of Brownstown, hugs Jackie Niesen, 72, of Gibraltar, during the opening ceremony. Callaway is a 15-year-breast-cancer survivor and Niesen is an 8-year survivor. / Todd McInturf / The Detroit News
Tens of thousands cancer survivors and supporters walk or run east on ... (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)