Vibrant cheers erupted near the Market Square Shopping Center Saturday morning as Tallahassee residences rallied the Go Pink! 5K runners through the finish line.
What is usually an empty lot behind Shaw's Athletic shoe store was swelling with supporters for the second-annual collaborative event between the Tallahassee Democrat and Joanna Francis Living Well Foundation promoting breast cancer awareness.
Living Well is a compounding relief fund created by Tallahassee natives, Jennifer Ervin Taylor and late Joanna Francis. The foundation provides social assistance for metastatic breast cancer patients who have "school to college aged" children, according to its mission statement.
In 2005, Francis was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. Three years later, she was re-diagnosed with breast cancer and metastasis to her skeletal system.
In 2011, Francis partnered with Taylor to establish the Living Well foundation, offering financial relief and social services to Tallahassee's breast cancer patients.
Throughout their friendship, Taylor and Francis made a conscious effort to live healthy, conquering the different walking trails within Tallahassee and staying active as much as possible.
After Francis' recent passing, the foundation and the Go Pink! 5K event was named in her honor.
"Joanna was big on the idea of family and being active together," Taylor said. "This event allows family and friends in the Tallahassee community to come together while bringing awareness to such an important issue."
As a result of the Go Pink! 5K run, the Living Well foundation is not only raising awareness, but also raising money in the thousands.
Last year, the race accumulated $8,000. According to Taylor, this year's race is predicted to rack up $12,000, which will go directly to assisting patients within Tallahassee.
From competitive runners to families looking to support the cause, 270 people came out to participate.
Gary Galvez, a runner from Panama, participated on behalf of his work as a Fit Specialist for Capital City Runners in Tallahassee. Galvez was crowned champion, finishing with a time of 19 minutes and 38 seconds.
Galvez is no stranger to the Go Pink! 5K run. He was a contestant in last year's premier race as well.
Competing in nearly 30 running events, Galvez considers this race most special since his grandmother is a survivor of breast cancer.
"Breast cancer is something that people need to know about, create awareness and fund the research to get a cure," Galvez said.
The energy on Timberlane Road was amplified when suprise guest Zac Pullam, a 13-year-old actor on MTV's new show "Finding Carter" and Ocala, Fla., native, joined the celebration.
Pullam and his mother were very close with Joanna Francis and wanted to show their support.
"This is definitely teaching people about the dangers of breast cancer, being healthy and just living your life to the fullest," Pullam said.
Overall, the Living Well foundation was victorious in preserving Joanna Francis' legacy of healthy living and raising funds for breast cancer patients in need.
For residents who missed out on the occasion and want to contribute to the cause, Living Well foundation will be hosting a charitable luncheon and fashion show in the spring that will feature 40 breast cancer survivors.