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Detroit —The soggy start to the 24th annual Susan G. Komen Detroit Race for the Cure Saturday didn't dampen the warrior-spirit of thousands who won or will win the fight against breast cancer.

Prior to the 9 a.m. kick-off along East Jefferson, a survivor and memorial recognition ceremony, emceed by local television personality Lila Lazarus, was held at the Chene Park Amphitheater.

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The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure series is the largest, most successful education and fundraising event for breast cancer in the world according to ww5.komen.org.

This year's honorary co-chair, Michigan's First Lady Sue Snyder pumped-up the crowd with a short yet impassioned speech.

"Its so awesome to look out and see so much pink," said Snyder. "I look forward to this race every year. It is my hope that we can reach a day when no one has to stand up to cancer but until that day comes, it is inspiring to see so many coming together for this cause."

Cancer's reach is vast said Snyder, herself an 11-year survivor.

"My mother and my grandmother fought this disease also," she said. "I am thankful everyday that we caught this early. It is because of that, and a strong support system, that I can be here, walking with you today."

Snyder said the event was a celebration of cancer survivors and those who lost their brave fight.

Also in attendance was U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing).

Susan Smith is staying strong in the face of metastatic (stage 4) breast cancer. A Chesterfield Township resident, Smith said she was diagnosed two years ago.

She said this is the second year she has laced-up her walking shoes to participate in the Race for the Cure.

As Snyder said before, cancer has a vast reach. Smith said her sister and two people from her high school also had breast cancer.

Smith and those classmates formed a support group called, the 82 Pink Warriors.

"We graduated in 1982," said Smith. "We connected on Facebook and we started doing this because we all kind of got it at the same time."

According to the National Cancer Institute, metastatic cancer is cancer that has spread from the place where it first started to another place in the body. Although some types of metastatic cancer can be cured, most cannot.

"All these people are cured and I will never be," Smith said of the survivors at the event.

But participating in the Race for the Cure helps Smith sustain a deep sense of gratitude.

"It gives me strength and positivity," she said. "There is a lot of sisterhood. You don't feel like you are alone. I realize that there are people worse off than I feel that I am sometimes."

Other cancer survivors were represented as well.

Like Snyder, Jamiah Williams, 17, is a cancer survivor.

Williams of Detroit, was 9-years-old when she was diagnosed with liver cancer.

A student at Detroit's Consortium College Prep High School, Williams credits being a member of Kids Kicking Cancer for helping her get well.

The program doesn't teach a type of martial arts but instructs its students in the mind-body techniques of martial arts instruction, breath work and meditation. Doing so empowers children so that they can manage the pain and discomfort of their disease, said Peter Davenport, a Kids Kicking Cancer instructor.

"When I joined I instantly felt at home. I felt better," said Jamiah. "It helped me with my treatment. It is the program that really pulled me through."

Jamiah said facing cancer can be overwhelming but staying positive is powerful.

"I feel like you should never give up. There is always hope," she said. "Find a good support group, find a program to join. Do something creative and active. Get out there and tell your story to inspire others and stay strong."

UWatson@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2613

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