What do Cam Janssen, Ben Bishop, Ian Cole
, Davis Payne
, Mike McCarthy
and John Kelly
all have in common, other than being affiliated with the St. Louis Blues?
All of them have been affected in one way or another by breast cancer.
McCarthy lost his mother to it in 1966. Payne's mother-in-law has been a survivor for five years and his best friend's wife has battled it multiple times.
It runs in Janssen's extended family: his grandmother and aunt are both survivors.
The list goes on and on.
So when nearly 64,000 people gathered early on Saturday morning to show their support and raise money for breast cancer research, things got a little emotional for all of them.
"To see this kind of support, seeing people out here supporting loved ones and survivors, it's just absolutely phenomenal," Payne said. "This is just an incredible morning, an incredible event. Over 60,000 people...what more can you say?"
Saturday's Susan G. Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure raised more than $3 million for breast cancer research, 75 percent of which will remain in St. Louis to fund screenings, treatment and support programs. The other 25 percent goes to fund national research.
For five years now, the Blues have organized a team to participate in the annual event. Fans who sign up receive a Blues race T-shirt, access to pre-race activities with Blues players, breakfast, face painting and photo opportunities.
This year's race featured the Blues' largest team yet with 2,550 members who raised more than $80,000.
Janssen, Payne and his wife Jane also served as honorary co-chairs for Saturday's event.
"I think in five years, this has grown beyond what any of us could have anticipated," said Kelly, whose neighbor is battling breast cancer. "It's good to see all these people and all the money they're raising. Cancer that 25 or 30 years ago was incurable is now curable. The people who get a tough diagnosis, they're living longer. We're making progress and it's great to see all these people. They inspire you to do better and raise more money.
"The cause is near and dear to the Kelly family's heart and certainly to a lot of people in St. Louis."
According to breastcancer.org, about one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Last year alone, it was estimated that nearly 40,000 women in the United States would die from breast cancer, making it the second-highest cancer-killer in women behind lung cancer.
But thanks to the treatment advances, increased awareness and early detection, death rates have been decreasing since 1980. In 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
One of those survivors is Beth Berger. Eleven years ago, she didn't feel well and found a lump in her breast. She went to the doctor to get tests performed and she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.
She participated in Saturday's race as a member of the Blues' team and she's been a Season Ticket Holder since 1981.
"It's obviously very inspiring to me (to see the Blues support this) and it makes me want to sign up right away," she said. "I'll be honest with you: my office has a team, too, but I told them 'no thank you, I'm walking with my hockey family.'"