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10th annual Spirit of Survival

LAWTON, Okla._Runners and walkers lined up bright and early Sunday morning for the 10th annual Spirit of Survival.

The first races kicked off at 7:30 a.m. and the day was full of events, all to raise funds for the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma.

More than 4,000 people showed up for the 10th Annual Spirit of Survival. Organizers say this has been there biggest year so far, and people didn't just come from Oklahoma, they came from across the nation and even from across the world.

The Spirit of Survival isn't just about how far you run or walk, but about what it took to get to the starting line Sunday morning. Of the thousands of people who participated in Sunday’s races, the people who were most proud to be there were the ones in yellow shirts, the cancer survivors.

"Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have been doing chemo for the past year. I just finished chemo this month. So, this is really just a celebration of my journey," Barbara Johnston, a runner, said.

This may have not been Johnston’s first time to participate in the Spirit of Survival, but it was her first as a survivor.

"I just can't believe all the support that we have here in Lawton and I couldn't ask for better treatment at the cancer center," Karola Cola, a runner, said.

Others participated to bring awareness to the cause the event is all about.

"I’m doing it for all the surviving people who have had cancer and I’m doing it for my parents. Both of my parents passed away from cancer. I hope they find a cure to help everyone," Johnston said.

And that's exactly what all the money raised from the events goes to, cancer research and helping treat cancer patients at the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma. Last year, they raised more than $100,000 and they hope to have raised even more this year. 

As a survivor, Johnston says it's a great feeling to see so many people come out to show their support.

"We need more and more support so that and for more people to realize that they can get their treatment here in Lawton and that they don't have to go to Oklahoma city or elsewhere to get that treatment because the oncologist we have at the cancer center are the best," Johnston said.

Johnston was one of the many cancer survivors who crossed the finish line Sunday, in hope that there steps may someday lead to a cure for the disease they have beat.

The half marathon, the quarter marathon and the 5K were just the beginning of Sunday's events. The Leah M. Fitch Spirit Walk and the Superhero Kids Marathon were held Sunday afternoon.

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