ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After a three-year hiatus, the Rochester River Run and Walk 5K made its return to Genesee Valley Park on Sunday.

The race — held in acknowledgement of National Donate Life Month — raises funds in support of patients who are awaiting or recovering from organ transplant surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Nearly 700 participants chose to run or walk in the event, which started at 10:30 a.m. through Genesee Valley Park and the University of Rochester campus.

One participant, Richard Perez, shared his special connection to the event.

“I’m a liver recipient,” Perez said. “I waited a little while, about 10 months, and finally I got a liver back in 2003. And now, July 24, I celebrate 20 years. We’ve been at this promoting the heroes which are the donors. They dedicated to say yes to organ donation and save our lives, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

The proceeds from the River Run will benefit transplant patients who are in need of financial assistance while either awaiting or recovering from surgery.

Organizers for the event say since its initiation in 2001, $300,000 has been raised and more than 100 patients have received assistance.

After the race, an award ceremony took place, as well as a ceremony to acknowledge memories of past organ donors and transplant recipients.

The UR Medicine’s Solid Organ Transplant Program each year serves hundreds of heart, liver, pancreas and kidney patients from across Western New York, the Southern Tier, and more.