NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Thousands gathered for the annual Susan G. Komen Orange County More Than Pink walk Sunday to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer patients as the nonprofit continues to build participation following the pandemic.
The annual walk at Fashion Island in Newport Beach was drawing 10,000 participants before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the fundraiser for two years, said Megan Klink, vice president of Komen West Region. Last year, the first year back, the event attracted 4,000 people and more were expected this year, Klink said.
"The community has shown up in a major way," Klink told City News Service. "We were getting close to our prior goal, so we increased it to $600,000 (from $589,000)."
Klink said the annual walk is "an essential fundraiser for the work that we do, but it's also an opportunity for this community to come together and celebrate their lives and to honor those that we've lost and just to connect and be together. It's really powerful."
The event helps raise money for basic financial assistance for breast cancer patients such as housing, transportation and food, Klink said.
"And part of what we're fundraising for is to provide more direct in-care services," Klink said. "It's the most expensive form of cancer to treat."
Among those who participated in the walk was breast cancer survivor Elia Guerrero of La Habra.
"I was diagnosed 23 years ago, but three years ago it came back. So now I'm stage 4, living with metastatic breast cancer," she said.
Guerrero added the support on display at the annual event gives her hope.
She also had this message for anyone impacted by breast cancer: "Never give up. Keep on going."
The event also serves to raise awareness of the disease, which afflicts not just women but men as well.
"Honestly, it does not discriminate," Klink said. "Everyone needs to understand their body and get screened."
Now everyone is encouraged to get screened at age 40, a change from prior recommendations at 50.
"That was great news because it's in line from what we've always said," Klink said. "We absolutely believe that early detection saves lives."
City News Service contributed to this report.