Since 1993, the Alaska Run for Women has been raising money for breast cancer research and education. The 27th annual event takes place this Saturday in Anchorage, and with about 5,000 participants expected, race organizers say its among the largest all-women races in the country.

Kathy Wisthoff is an original board member for the event and says last year alone, it raised more than $200,000. In its 27-year history, the run has raised about $4.6 million in donations. 

The money raised helps highlight an alarming statistic: one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. That's according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

According to Wisthoff the race is made up of survivors and their neighbors, friends and family because hardly anyone is unaffected by the disease.

"If you haven't been touched by it personally, you know somebody who has. We have a lot of teams that come out to participate together because they're supporting somebody who's going through breast cancer," Wisthoff said. 

Wisthoff says it was cancer in her own family that sparked her advocacy so many years ago. Both her mother and younger sister were diagnosed, her sister at just age 35.

"I wanted to do what I could to help raise funds, hoping all these years, that we were going towards a cure. That's our ultimate goal. I lost my sister in the fourth year of the run, and I just said 'I'm committed to this for as long as it takes,'" Wisthoff said.

While the rate for diagnosis is high, research has show that early detection has helped increase the number of survivors.

The Alaska Run for Women takes place at the Anchorage Football Stadium near The Sullivan Arena. Staging for the 1- and 5-mile runs and walks starts at 8 a.m.

For more information, including registration, visit the run's website.

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