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'Why I run': Jacksonville doctor runs 15th year in Donna Marathon

"The vision has turned into reality. Helping more than 16 thousand families and helping provide a significate amount of research," said Dr. Edith Perez

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For years Dr. Edith Perez and her colleagues at the Mayo Clinic have worked side by side with the Donna Foundation.

“Sometimes patients are diagnosed with breast cancer and they do not have the resources to be able to take the transportation to pay for utilities," Perez said. "I feel there is a very big connection between patient need, education science, and access.”  

Perez says Donna's vision for the foundation came to life right before her eyes.

“To see her vision from the very beginning and the idea that it's very important to give back you know we take our experiences and we build from those experiences," Perez said.

When Donna was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she became Dr. Perez's patient. 

“Then cancer occurred a few years later we took care of it, occurred again the third time you know and her reliance was really an example to all of us, also helping me realize how important it was for us to work together to make progress," Perez said. 

The latest research being done at the Mayo is a breast cancer vaccine. The Donna Foundation has contributed funds to the trial.

“We develop trials based on science and patient need and this trial specifically investigation a new vaccine to help decrease the risk of breast cancer returning is one of those strategies," Perez said. 

Perez says its events like the 26.2 with Donna that make this research possible.

"The vision has turned into reality. Helping more than 16 thousand families and helping provide a significate amount of research increasing the visibility of the Jacksonville area and helping us make progress," Perez said.

That progress is why Perez has run every race for the last 15 years. 

"I’m thrilled and I’m really excited about running this weekend," Perez said. “We’re making progress together so I would like others to also join us in this effort and have fun doing it.”  

RELATED: The 15th Annual Donna Marathon Weekend is Back in Person (FCL Feb. 3, 2022)

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RELATED: 'Why I run': Doctor helps breast cancer patients, survives cancer herself

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