Rae Whitton, 23, leads the Whitton family in her save the tatas T-shirt as they do their part in the CIBC Run for the Cure that took place along University Avenue in Toronto yesterday.

They came for Janet. They came for Marg. They came for Karen. They came for Cheri. They came for sisters, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, friends and wives. They came for all women.

But ultimately, the tens of thousands of participants who came out to the 18th annual CIBC Run for the Cure in Toronto – the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual five-kilometre run/one-kilometre walk – were there to raise funds for breast cancer research, education and awareness programs.

Their ultimate hope, of course, is a cure for the disease that is considered the most common type of cancer among women in Canada and will  affect nearly 23,000 across the country this year.

During the opening ceremonies in Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto MP Olivia Chow made an emotional speech before a sea of thousands clad in pink and white.

“We run for the love of life and all its glory and for the joy we share with our family and friends,” she said as the crowd erupted in applause.

“We want to express our love for those around us who have been touched by breast cancer. And we want to encourage them to fight on and to live. We also want to fill this deep sorrow of the hole in our heart left behind by those who lost the battle with breast cancer.”

After a group warm up, energized participants headed to the start line on Queen Street before running and walking up University Avenue to Queen’s Park and back.

One woman who came was Yvonne Bland, a breast cancer survivor, who has been participating in the run for the past eight years with her family and friends.

In that time, they’ve raised $150,000.

Yesterday, along with 50 of her supporters donning pink boas and hats, including her parents who flew over from Scotland for the occasion, Bland walked with the hope for a cure.

“There’s a number of my chemo buddies from 2002 and everyone comes to support the cause,” she said.

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