MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It was a marathon kind of a day with thousands of runners taking part in the annual St. Jude Memphis Marathon.

This is the biggest yearly fundraiser benefiting the children’s research hospital. Those who were pounding the pavement told us they were proud to sweat it out in an ongoing effort to save lives.

Despite a soggy start Saturday, downtown streets of Memphis were flooded with runners taking part in what has become an annual tradition.

One runner proudly wearing number 8474, affectionately known as Hails Bells, has been training for months for this one moment.

“That’s my nickname, that’s my runner tag,” a runner named Hailey said

Hailey said the preparation that goes into running anywhere from 3.1 to 26.2 miles can be grueling, but it is for a great cause.

“It really humbles you. It shows you why you’re out here doing what you’re doing,” Hailey said.

It’s a shared sentiment from those cheering on the runners, who at one time were also out pounding the pavement.

“I remember when I ran through the campus a few years ago, it’s so inspiring to see all those kids out there. It makes you shed a tear. It really does. It’s a great cause,” Devin Hamill, a spectator, said.

Organizers say the thousands of participants and the enthusiastic spectators are helping to raise thousands of dollars to benefit St. Jude in an effort to save children battling cancer.

The thousands of dollars raised quickly added up to millions.

The donations also raised hope that children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses will have access to treatment to fully recover.