As Richard Royce stretched his legs and prepared for a 5K run on Friday night, he was thinking of his mother who survived breast cancer five years ago.
Royce was one of roughly 30 participants competing in the 22nd annual Heart and Sole Cancer Walk and Run's 5K race, which took place in front of the Mitchell Middle School. While Royce ran for his mother, he was also motivated to run for his step sister who died from heart cancer.
"This run means a lot for me," Royce said. "I think about them throughout the whole 5k run."
After a moving opening ceremony and dedication to this year's honorary co-chairs-Mike Tobin, Ryker Earls and Kirsten Harless-walkers began making laps around the Mitchell Middle School.
With the triumphant cancer battles the honorary co-chairs have recently endured, it's only fitting this year's theme was "Wheel Rise above Cancer." Staying true to the theme, tents with carnival games, balloons and face painting stations filled the grassland in the center of the cancer walk track.
For Heart and Sole Cancer Walk committee member Joni Rasmussen, the event is personal. After all, Rasmussen is a cancer survivor and joined the committee after she was an honorary co-chair. Prior to walking with the group of past cancer survivors, Rasmussen said the event is an intensely meaningful experience.
"It's not just for those of us fighting against cancer; it's for those who have lost their battle," Rasmussen said. "It's our victory lap for all affected by cancer."
In honor of those who have fought cancer, roughly 2,500 luminaries were speckled around the track. The event drew close to 1,700 people, and Rasmussen said the continued support shows with each year's cancer walk.
"It's so amazing seeing how many people come and walk and run for those affected by cancer," Rasmussen said.