LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- While Friday was the 142nd running of the Kentucky Oaks, it was the eighth year Churchill Downs honored breast and ovarian cancer survivors. 

Just for a short time, the racetrack becomes a symbol of strength not just for the women, but all cancer survivors. Every step taken on the historic Churchill Downs track is a step forward for breast and ovarian cancer survivors.

 “I'm just so thrilled to be alive, and I appreciate the support. It's wonderful,” Sarah Whiteman said.

While Oaks Day is filled with glitz and glam and pink hats and dresses, getting to this moment has not been an easy path.

“It's a blessing, and I'm thankful to be here. I’m thankful that I can even be able to walk, that I can smile, that I'm healthy ... so I'm thankful and happy to be here,” Leigh Sands said.  

Some women even got emotional as they recalled their struggle of survival.

“It's very emotional to be with all the survivors and all we've been through, and to just be here calls for a celebration to be here,” Diane Vanover said.

For the 142nd running of the Kentucky Oaks, 142 survivors participated in the parade. They were chosen from more than 500 nominations across the United States and Canada. Walking on the track where so many horses have become champions, these women say they too are champions in their own way.

“It's an honor just to be able to represent the women who have gone through this. I mean it's a really big deal for me,” Sands said.

“We bond, and I realize how blessed I am,” Vanover said.

The parade helps raise awareness for these deadly diseases and also raises thousands of dollars for cancer organizations. 

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