Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, joined the sea of pink bras, pink feather boas, pink socks and pink hats in Orlando on Saturday as she walked in the fight against breast cancer.
Dressed in a pink "Team Romney" T-shirt and sporting a breast-cancer-awareness pin, Romney weaved through downtown for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K.
The annual fundraising event -- the largest breast-cancer walk in Florida -- drew more than 40,000 participants Saturday, packing the streets around Lake Eola Park, near where the walk started and finished.
Most participants -- men, women, teenagers, kids and a few dogs -- were decked out in pink -- the color associated with the fight against the disease.
Romney greeted breast-cancer survivors along the race course, posed for pictures and shared stories with those battling the disease.
"It was wonderful to know someone so high-profile, but yet elegant and kind, is walking in my shoes with me," said Kristen Fulton, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.
"I'm trying to be a survivor," she said.
Romney spoke with Fulton, 44, of Chuluota before the walk, and the two shared their survivor stories. Romney was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 but is now cancer-free.
"She knows where I've been and knows what I still have to do," Fulton said. "Her words of encouragement brought me to tears." Romney's advice: "Take one day at a time, and it's not over."
For most of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Romney has been visiting with patients and breast-cancer facilities, according to her press secretary, Sarah Haley.
"Mrs. Romney is extremely passionate about breast cancer," Haley said. "She feels like she really does understand what they're going through since she's been through it herself."
Romney chose to visit Orlando because "Florida is a very significant state in this election," Haley said.
Across the nation, breast cancer affects one out of every eight women, and one in 36 dies from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Florida ranks second in the U.S. for the number of new breast-cancer cases and third for the number of related deaths.
The Making Strides walk and other events fund breast-cancer research, including access to breast-cancer screening and treatments.
Eight million walkers have participated in Making Strides events across the U.S since 1993, raising more than $460 million to help fight breast cancer. In 2011, a million walkers collected more than $60 million to help fight the disease.
Breast-cancer survivor Yvette Register had a touch of pink on almost every piece of her clothing Saturday: pink feather boa, pink T-shirt and a pink bracelet. Register walked with 50 others from the State Farm Central Florida team and raised almost $5,000.
Register spoke at the event Saturday and called the experience an "honor."
Register, 49, of Orlando discovered she had breast cancer in 2011. On that "very traumatic" Feb. 1, Register went to see her doctor after she felt something on her breast during a self-examination.
"I don't have good news," Register's doctor later told her. Register remembers crying and thinking: "This can't be happening."
Distraught over the news but determined to survive toanother birthday, Register vowed to fight the disease. For the next eight months, Register went through two surgeries, six rounds of chemotherapy and 48 rounds of radiation treatment.
"I lost my hair, but I didn't lose my spirit," Register said.
Register is now cancer-free and has been for almost a year.
At this year's event, many walkers -- both men and women -- wore pink brassieres over their T-shirts in honor of the "Put On Your Pink Bra" campaign. The pink bras represented a personal breast-cancer story or the story of a survivor.
T.J. Morrell of Davenport strutted along Livingston Street on Saturday wearing a hot-pink bra with lip prints on it. He bought it at J.C. Penney, he said.
"I wanted something a little flashier than just pink," said Worrell, 42.
In the past, Worrell has participated in the walk in honor of his parents, both of whom died from cancer. This year -- his third walk -- Worrell is walking for his cousin recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast-cancer survivor Mary Moyer of Clermont was one of the dozens who posed for a picture with Romney. The two met in the "Survivors Tent" at the walk.
As for her photo standing by the potential next first lady, Moyer said she was planning to post it to Facebook. "I'm just thrilled to death about it."[Image from flickr user Katherine Cresto]
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