JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Runners hit the streets Sunday money for the this year’s 16th Annual Donna Marathon Weekend. The marathon and half-marathon events started and finished at Jacksonville Beach.
Over 4,000 runners signed up for the event. The crowd included athletes of all abilities, breast cancer survivors, loved ones running in honor of someone lost to the disease and many more supporters.
“Everybody out there high-fiving, loving on people. I saw some many people in tears, you know it’s just this balance of energy out there because everybody’s, it’s so important what we’re doing," Donna Deegan, founder of The DONNA Foundation, said.
Along the course, fans in the streets of Jacksonville, Neptune, and Atlantic Beach cheered on. Every year the residents of 5th street go all out in pink in support.
“Everyone comes out and it’s a lot of fun, and families come out and we decorate and we love to see the runners go by and just support the event," Jenn Talley, a neighborhood fan, said.
The energy on the course was just as supportive. Charity chaser Meaghan Murray-Neuberger was in the crowd. She is a five-time Donna Marathon women's champion and started from the back, working her way to the front, earning money for breast cancer research for each person she passed.
10-year runner coach Christopher Turner hit the streets with his high school cross country team.
“I wanted the athletes to experience the race that there’s a purpose, that they’re contributing that they’re seeing that so many people are out here doing this and get some motivation from that," Christopher Turner, a Cross Country Coach and a foundation board member, said.
The event is named after reast cancer survivor Donna Deegan, who ran the half-marathon herself. It's the only marathon in the US dedicated to breast cancer research and care and benefits.
“We are supporting critical research so that there’s a hope for tomorrow. $3.3 million dollars over our 20 years, and last but certainly not least, it’s all about choice love over fear today. Celebrating survivorship and just be happy to be alive and be running at the beach," Amanda Napolitano, a foundation executive director said.
“Thank you so much to everybody for always throwing their arms around this race and making every runner feel special, it’s awesome," Deegan said.
Over $250,000 dollars were raised during the weekend.