Nearly six thousand people in Ottawa joined tens of thousands across the country Sunday morning to fight breast cancer.

The annual CIBC Run for the Cure is the largest, single-day, community-driven breast cancer event in Canada.

"Wouldn't it be great one day if we didn't have to run this race, ever, because there was no breast cancer," said Catherine Marion, the Ottawa event's honorary co-chair. "But for now we have to run, and we have to raise funds so that's why we're all here today."

Many participants are running with loved ones in mind, including mothers, sisters, and friends who have at one time been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Laureen Harper is a regular participant.

"When you hear the stories it makes you think there’s no excuse for me not to get out’s a lot of fun," she said.

Curtis Milobar is running for his mother, a two-time breast cancer survivor.

"I's become a tradition, so it keeps us closer together, and reminds us to be thankful that she's still there with us, to be our mom every year," Milobar said.

The event is highlighted by runners and walkers wearing pink, and often attention-grabbing getups including fuschia wigs and tutus.

"I don't mind being ridiculous for this great cause," said Tristan Leblanc, wearing a head-to-toe yellow bodysuit, a pink wig and a pink skirt.

Others have fought the disease, and are celebrating.

"You feel like you've beaten it, and you're here, and you're doing something about making sure the boobs of tomorrow are protected, really that's what it's all about," said breast cancer survivor Breda Kelly.

An estimated 23,800 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. 5,000 will die from it.

But there is hope for a future without breast cancer.

The number of Canadian women dying from breast cancer has gone down by 42 percent since the 1980s.

Kelly offers this advice to those who are fighting the disease.

"You will get through it, stay strong," she said. "Beat it, because there is life afterwards, there is light afterwards."

The Ottawa event raised $1.2 million for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

With files from CTV's Claudia Cautillo