COOK COUNTY, Ill. — A cancer diagnosis is life-changing for many people and their families, but a local nonprofit works to bring a little sweetness to those battling the disease.

Lemons of Love, a non-profit that delivers care packages filled with products that help patients manage the side effects of chemo, hosted a 5K race over the weekend.

500 people geared up for the 5K, which took place in Lions Park in Mount Prospect. Every runner and walker at Saturday’s race honored someone who fought or is still fighting cancer.

The race benefitted the nonprofit, which was founded in 2014 by Jill Swanson, a cancer survivor who started Lemons of Love as a way to “make lemonade” out of a bad situation.

“I was diagnosed with colon cancer in February of 2014,” Swanson said. “And as I embarked on all of the Chemo I was about to go through, I sat in the waiting room and looked at everybody else’s story of what they were going through, and in between the first and second chemo, I went shopping and bought gifts and handed them out in the waiting room.”

This year’s event was draped in a sea of purple in memory of Nikki Criel, a longtime Lemons of Love volunteer who passed away on Christmas Eve at age 53

“She would have loved it. You know the fact that it’s purple probably would have made her really happy. She was all about purple,” NIkki’s son Patrick Criel said.

With the help of over 21,500 volunteers, Lemons of Love has delivered 30,000 care packages to cancer patients since the organization was founded.