LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Churchill Downs hosted more than 1,000 members of gold star families on Sunday afternoon for its annual Survivors' Day at the Races.

The event is intended to be a day of fellowship and healing for gold star families whose loved ones sacrificed their lives for our freedom. 

"I like to say I raised a hero," Lynn Romans said. Her 24-year-old son Darrin served with the Kentucky Army National Guard. "In 2003, he was serving in Iraq. They were on a mission, his vehicle came under fire it overturned into a canal. His death was actually a drowning."

Romans looks forward to Survivors Day at Churchill Downs each year.

"It's just a really good time to meet with other families and talk about our loved ones. They can understand that loss like no one else can," she said.

This year over 1,000 wives, husbands, daughters and sons of fallen service members attended.

"You'll see pictures of their fallen service members on their shirts, their buttons and it's just camaraderie," Mark Grant with Survivor Outreach Services said. 

In its 10th year, the event has now become the largest Survivor Outreach Services event in the entire country.

"We have survivors as far away as Oregon and Washington state here, California, and they told us that they wanted to come to Churchill Downs and they wanted to see Louisville, Kentucky and have a good time with fellow survivors," Grant said. 

The day allows these families to forge a special bond that helps them heal and lets them know their loved ones will never be forgotten.

"I think it's the most important thing that we do for our military members," Grant said. "They have to know that we're going to take care of their families and they have to know that they'll never be forgotten."

Romans appreciates that sentiment. 

"That's really important," she said. "That we continue to share that story and that their lives never be forgotten and their sacrifice."

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