17th annual DONNA Marathon kicks off with thousands of people supporting breast cancer patients, research

Runners and walkers are getting their steps in at the 17th annual DONNA Marathon to help raise money to support breast cancer patients and research to find a cure for cancer.

Will and Jacob Poore are running this weekend for their mother who fought breast cancer in 2023 and is now in remission.

“She is always in good spirits. She had a good, positive attitude throughout it. I think that helped her out too,” Will and Jacob said.

Thousands of people are running and walking many miles through downtown Jacksonville and eventually Jacksonville Beach in tribute to those dealing with a difficult health challenge.

“It is heartbreaking to see that so many people are affected. But it is encouraging to see that they are here trying to make a difference, trying to raise awareness, trying to find a cure,” PeTika Tave and Zandria Bastian, who ran the 5K race, said.

This event also celebrates survivorship.

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan is the catalyst of this longtime event. She had three different bouts of cancer between 1999 and 2007.

“That third time was pretty scary. It was a cancer that was in my left lung. It was a situation where I really thought, oh my goodness maybe this is it,” Deegan said.

This year, the Health and Wellness Expo is offering education on new treatments available to fight cancer.

In addition, at the Flex Field, where the Health and Wellness Expo is happening, there are 26 signs where people can write and sign encouraging posts.

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There are also cases of fitting tributes to those who are battling cancer right now and in some cases, some who unfortunately died from cancer.

UNF’s Head Baseball Coach Joe Mercadante and the team ran Saturday morning.

In honor of former longtime baseball coach Tim Parenton, who died from cancer in October 2023.

“He was a man that impacted most of our roster in one way or another. We have made some changes to the stadium to remember him and is something that is obviously going to be on our hearts,” Mercadante said.

The DONNA Weekend will wrap up Sunday with the marathon and half marathon in Jacksonville Beach.

“For the people that still see that I am still here living and breathing, thank God, that it gives them some hope,” Deegan said.

For more information on the DONNA Marathon visit this website.

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