TheBlaze's Erica Ritz contributed to this report and conducted the interviews included within it.
On Saturday morning, scores of Glenn Beck's "Man in the Moon" attendees wearing red shirts graced Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the "Walk for Hope," an initiative aimed at fighting cancer. TheBlaze was on scene to interview participants about the experience and to learn more about their reasons for participating in the 5K. From a personal connection to the tragic disease to a heart-felt belief in helping those in need, their motivations differed -- but the participant's stories were all equally touching.
Photo Credit: TheBlaze
One of the first people we spoke with was Spencer Hymas of Salt Lake City. Among the first to cross the finish line, he spoke candidly about his family's own experience with cancer.
"My dad is a cancer survivor," he told TheBlaze, adding that his father beat the disease eight years ago.
Spencer's motivation was very obviously personal, as he said that he wanted to offer both support and awareness by taking part in the "Walk for Hope." His father walked, too, as did other family members.
It's no surprise that the family is taking part. After all, the cancer experience made quite an impact on Spencer and his relatives.
"It was pretty tough. It was kind of devastating for a while," he said of the diagnosis. "We just didn't know how we were going to get through without him working for awhile."
Spencer Hymas (left) and his cousin (Photo Credit: TheBlaze)
Robert and Melissa
And Spencer isn't alone.
Robert and Melissa Peterson and their son, Whitley, are from Saratoga Springs, Utah. They, too, know family members who have been impacted by the terrible disease. Thus, the issue is close to their hearts -- and one that they chose to tackle during today's walk.
Then there was Courtney and Paula Fisher, husband and wife, who are both cancer survivors. While Courtney survived prostate cancer, Paula experienced a skin malignancy.
Their personal connection to the issue clearly gives them perspective and a reason to take part. Of the overall Man in the Moon experience, Paula said thinks that "hope" will emerge from the weekend of action-packed events.
The two, residents of Kaysville, Utah, also expressed their love for the crowd of like-minded thinkers.
"We're here because we love this crowd. They're great people," Paula said.
"A sense of community -- that you're not the only one who's smart," Courtney added with a wink.
Paula and Courtney Fisher (Photo Credit: TheBlaze)
We also spoke with Karen Lindell of Roberts, Montana. Like the Fisher family, she, too, expressed the need to instill hope and to motivate citizens to action. A Glenn Beck fan, Karen told us that events like Man in the Moon are "so vital to our country" and said that citizens need to take part in turning the nation around.
"People [need to] get fired up and get involved," she said. "I'm just as guilty as anyone else. I'm such an introvert, but you've got to do it."
Clearly, Karen met her own challenge, as we spoke with her just after she crossed the finish line.
Karen Lindell (Photo Credit: TheBlaze)
The Angove family, too, drove 15 hours straight through from Washington State to be at Man in the Moon. Steven and Carol joined their two daughters in attending, telling TheBlaze that they have also been Beck fans for years.
In discussing their motivation for participating in the walk, the Angoves said that their son is directly impacted by cancer, but not in the way you might think.
"Our son's a doctor," they explained. "He does a lot of cancer work and so that's why -- it's near and dear to our heart."
While holding her young children, Crystal Zank, another participant we interviewed, added: "We love the run. And it's been so amazing because everybody brought their kids, and their strollers...! I love events that involve family, because that's what we all are..."
She said she and her family believe in hope and that, by coming together and loving one another, we can create a better world.
"Go hope! That's what we're here for," she added.
Crystal Zank (left) and her family (Photo Credit: TheBlaze)
We also ran into Mia Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and a speaker during this week's events. She participated in the race and told TheBlaze that she had "a great time." In fact, the experience, she said, was her favorite part of the Man in the Moon experience thus far.
Why, you ask?
"It's because I've always said that we have the ability to improve our communities -- that we don't need anyone to force us to do it," Love said. "That we can all come together and help our fellow neighbors ... and I think it just goes to show that we have the ability to come together and help our fellow neighbors instead of someone forcing us to do it."
The politician went on to say that Americans give more voluntarily than any other nation in the world and that she is always fascinated by events that give her the chance to praise and acknowledge these actions.
During the walk, well-known conservatives assisted participants by providing water and encouragement. Michelle Malkin was among the event speakers who helped cheer on the runners:
(Photo Credit: TheBlaze)
The crowd was excited and invigorated, as everyone involved pushed themselves to complete the walk in an effort to assist those who are truly suffering. The money raised will go to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.