Let me begin by telling you that I am a native of Jacksonville and an unabashed, complete and total homer when it comes to my community. I’ve known forever what thousands of people are learning every year when they travel here to run 26.2 With DONNA. This is the best-kept secret in the country!
As a three time breast cancer survivor, when I set out to start the nation’s only marathon dedicated to breast cancer research and care, I wanted to serve a dual purpose: To end breast cancer and the financial stress surrounding it for thousands of women, and to showcase a community that is often overlooked when people circle Florida on their maps as a destination.
As a medical destination for many due to our outstanding level of access and care, Jacksonville is also home to some of the most astounding advances in the realm of breast cancer research. Thanks to seed funds raised from 26.2 With DONNA, we’ve seen gene research lend itself to new treatments, including a groundbreaking first of its kind vaccine trial for a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer called triple negative. No other race funds the specific genomic research we support and it’s yielding big dividends.
Equally exciting is the number of women living with breast cancer now who are getting help. Bills don’t take a break during treatment and through The Donna Foundation we’ve helped to relieve the financial burdens of more than eight thousand women. When you run DONNA, you know where your dollars are going and we keep you updated on that with great regularity.
As a runner, I love the idea of serving a purpose higher than myself. But if I’m going to spend my hard-earned dollars on a race, I expect a world-class experience. I always joke that because we aren’t New York City or Boston (although we are a Boston Qualifier!) we are like Avis, we have to try harder. Ask any runner who has been has been here once and you’ll learn why CNN chose 26.2 with DONNA as “One of 7 U.S Marathons Worth the Trip” and why Women’s Running Magazine readers elected us as the number one charity marathon in the country. From our expansive river to the shores of our pristine beaches, you simply won’t find a more beautiful course in the country.
But what really sets us apart is our community support. From the moment you hit the start line at the oak-lined campus of TPC Sawgrass, through our three stunning beaches communities and over the Intracoastal Waterway to the finish line at Mayo Clinic, crowds are there to cheer you along. It’s been described as a 26.2 mile block party!
Like I said, I’m a huge homer, but this community rocks! So consider this your personal invitation to learn why The DONNA attracts runners from every state and more than 20 countries. We’re doing good and having fun. That’s a powerful combination.
DONNA Marathon Weekend, concluding with 26.2 with DONNA, will be held Feb. 10-12, 2017, along Jacksonville’s beach communities.
Guest Blogger: Donna Deegan, Founder and President of The Donna Foundation