It wasn't just the inspiration of the founder, an on-air news anchor for two networks. Donna Deegan decided, in 2007, even when diagnosed for the third time with Breast Cancer that she wanted to host a marathon and half marathon that contributed almost every cent of the entry fee to Breast Cancer research at Mayo Clinic, and care for women. Even while undergoing treatment, she orchestrated the first edition in 2008 and ran the marathon herself. It's almost impossible to say "no" to Donna.
It wasn't just the powerful support from the Jacksonville residents, businesses, governments and supporters who lined the entire course. The connection to spectators was powerful and moving. It was obvious that most had a friend/relative who was suffering or had passed from the disease. I've never been thanked for running a race by so many people.
It wasn't just the regular flow of "survivor" pink shirts running the race. Impressive among the runners were a good number of shining heads or pink wigs of those currently undergoing treatment. It's hard to give a "weather excuse" when you see these amazing human beings.
It wasn't just the groundswell of over 10,000 runners from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries. Most of our Galloway Training Programs, in over 50 cities, were represented. Over $2,000,000 has been raised so far, and the checks are still coming in. You can contribute at www.breastcancermarathon.com.
It wasn't just the beauty of the course across the scenic marshlands of the intercoastal waterway and then through the sometimes quirky and interesting beach neighborhoods. I loved the segment on the hard-packed beach.
It was about the flood of people who sacrificed to work the event, to run, or to help raise funds for the cause. One woman drove over 8 hours and volunteered for pre-race duties to give meaning to the lives of two close friends who recently passed from the disease. On raceday she was on the course cheering until the last runner went by.
It was about the constant flow of stories such as that of Penny Reed who was inspired by a friend who could not run the 2008 race, having just been diagnosed with breast cancer, but finished the half marathon in 2009. Penny formed a small team to run with her friend this year (who ran more than 23 minutes faster). Penny also set a PR by almost 30 seconds a mile!
I've never been more proud to volunteer my services. Please put this one on your half or marathon "to do" list. There's also a relay.