Pink is the new black, if only for October.

Thousands gathered in World's Fair Park on Saturday morning for Knoxville's annual Race for the Cure.

Arriving before sunrise to help set up the race, the members of Zeta Tau Alpha supported their national philanthropy, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

"Race for the Cure is important because it has an effect on so many people," said Hannah Turnage, ZTA member and sophomore in Hispanic studies. "Coming out early is worth all the encouragement we can give, but more importantly because we can help find a cure."

In addition, ZTA stationed a tent where survivors were served breakfast. After the morning meal, survivors could hang pink ribbons to recognize those who have battled breast cancer. Later, a special ceremony was held, presenting survivors with a white rose.

"Just being able to see the survivors here gives me so much hope that I will be a part of the survivor ceremony myself one day," said Emily Dickson, who is currently battling cancer.

Panera Bread and Starbucks participated in the event by providing pink ribbon-shaped bagels and hot chocolate in exchange for donations.

Bill Pazcsowski spent his morning walking around the park before the race asking onlookers in attendance questions about breast cancer awareness. Pazcsowski said education is key for prevention and that Race for the Cure provides a useful platform for his message.

"It provides a way for people to make connections with others who understand their struggle," Pazcsowski said. "No matter who you are, or where you come from, no one can understand the battle they have faced like other survivors, or others who are fighting cancer right now."

Set to begin at 8:30 a.m., participants lined up for the race sporting pink outfits which ranged from tutus to tuxedos, including even a pink dog.

"Running the race is such a great way to celebrate those who won the battle against cancer, and also honor those who have been lost," Molly Barrett, an undecided freshman and race participant, said.

Before the race, each runner was given a pink tag displaying the names of loved ones to wear during the three-mile route through downtown.

"Our friend with cancer was supposed to run with us today, but she has become too sick," Sarah Geitner, a team leader, said. "We wanted to be here anyway so that she would still be represented."

The thousands of dollars raised during the weekend will be donated to Susan G. Komen to fund breast cancer research.

For ZTA's philanthropy chair Erin Hammer, the race is a stepping stone to a future without cancer.

"I can't wait for the day when Zeta is forced to find a new philanthropy because a cure for cancer has been found," Hammer said.