JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Over 4,000 runners crossed the finish line during this year’s 15th DONNA Marathon to fight breast cancer.
The nationally recognized race brought in runners from all over the world and filled the streets in Jacksonville Beach.
“You just feel like, you’re glad it’s the last step but it’s a feeling of, I think we’re doing the right thing," Curran Hayesk, a cancer survivor and a runner said about crossing the finish line.
Hayesk has been running in the DONNA Marathon for 15 years. She started after her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“When she was diagnosed and decided to run it the first year, I said I’ll do it with you. And then 5 years in I was diagnosed and I ran this race while I was having chemo," Hayesk explained.
Hayesk is now 10 years cancer free and was one of over 4,000 runners who took off on the course in Jacksonville beach.
It was cold and windy, but there was warmth along the way, houses on one street along the route went all out for the race.
“We live on the race route and we love and it and we love just supporting the community and a great cause and really seeing everybody in the neighborhood come out is really wonderful," Jenn Tally, a supporter, said.
The half marathon and marathon ran simultaneous. It was an emotional end when the champion of the 15th anniversary Donna Marathon crossed the line, finishing 26.2 miles in just 2 hours and 35 minutes.
“It’s been 2 years since we gathered under this start and finish line, so to see everyone here today together, lifting each other up in survivor ship and love, even in a little windy weather conditions, it’s just my favorite day of the year. I’ll treasure it forever," said Amanda Napolitano, executive director at the Donna foundation.
The marathon started with Donna Deegan who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. Her and her husband, Tim Deegan, ran the race as well.
“The finish line is always just the most amazing experience and I think it got such a great meaning in this race because there’s so many survivors and families of survivors out there running, they cross and it really means something, it’s hard, this is hard, but it’s the hard that makes it so great, because we’re doing something hard, you know," Donna Deegan, said.