Andrea Koster-Crain, 56, has been battling Stage 4 breast cancer for nearly six years, and was first diagnosed 16 years ago. "I'm just so overwhelmed," Koster-Crain said of the recognition. "This has been one of the most overwhelming and satisfying and heartfelt things ever."
Her daughter, Amanda Crain, 26, was chosen "Co-Survivor of the Year."
"She's shown a really good example," Crain said. "We want people to find hope and inspiration and strength from everything she's been through."
Sunday's race, led by a chapter of Long Island Harley-Davidson riders, drew thousands of runners and walkers to Central Park, where they carried signs and balloons and dodged puddles left over from Saturday's storms.
Linda Rand, 58, of North Woodmere, held a sign announcing her team's name: "5 Towns Girls 4 A Cure." Rand was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and her cousin was diagnosed this year.
"It's a very inspirational day for my family," Rand said. "It really warms your heart to see so many people committed to finding a cure."
Rand said she had questioned whether she should walk in the 2012 race, in light of the controversy this year when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood, one of the nation's largest providers of screenings for breast cancer. It quickly reversed that position, but "it left a little sour taste in my mouth," Rand said. Still, she said, "it didn't stop us."
Last year's race yielded more than $6 million in donations and had more than 21,000 participants, according to the organization, which would not release attendance or fundraising estimates for this year's race, the first since many supporters withdrew their backing in February over Komen's initial cuts to Planned Parenthood.
Camille Costa, 62, of Melville, walked as part of Team Francine, named in memory of her triplet sister, who died of breast cancer in 2003. Costa herself had been treated for precancer in her breast, she said.
"It's amazing to see all these people coming out for this cause," Costa said, adding that she and her sister used to walk together, making an event of it by staying in a Manhattan hotel the night before.
"It's an exhilarating feeling," she said. "I need this every year. It sustains me with the loss of my sister."