JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- More than 12,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 20 countries are making their way to Jacksonville tonight for the 26.2 with Donna Breast Cancer Marathon.
Before she starts pounding pavement for the cause Sunday, Donna Deegan met with our Lynnsey Gardner to talk about how this race is about more than raising money.
Hot on the heels of her morning training run and decked head to toe in the trademark breast cancer pink, survivor Donna Deegan met with Gardner at Jacksonville Beach along part of Sunday's race course.
"People always ask me did you envision it being this big and I always say 'Yeah!' (laugh) that's why I did it!"
Now in its seventh year, this year's marathon and half marathon is expected to draw 12,000 runners to the beaches. For many, it's a race to remember those they've lost and honor the battle they've fought or continue to fight.
"I always tell women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, you have 24 hours to feel sorry for yourself and then you have to start finding the good in it!" The good for Donna Deegan came in spite of being diagnosed with breast cancer three times. The tireless advocate recently stepped away from the news cameras and for the first time, devoted 100 percent of her energy and time to her foundation and this marathon.
"For me that has been such a game changer in my life and I was always looking at what's next, that probably comes naturally to us in the news business but now, I live in the moment and I tell women wake up every day and say. 'Thank God I'm still here!'"
Every year, she says her foundation donates 100 percent of the proceeds to both research at Jacksonville's Mayo Clinic and to women currently fighting the disease. We found that equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for seven years running.
"I've had cancer three times, I have a daughter who is now 21 years old, I don't want her to have to worry about breast cancer and what I'm hearing from the Mayo Clinic in 20 years, we won't have it. So, what does it mean to me? It means everything. The future of our children is involved."
A future she hopes is increasingly flooded with pink survivors at the finish line of both the race and the deadly devastating disease.
Supporters are always encouraged to flood the race course and more bands will be there this year. There is a 5k and a fun run race on Saturday starting at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. The 5k race starts at 8:30 a.m. and the 1-mile fun run is at 9:30.
Registration for those events will open at 7 a.m. You can also register there on Saturday for the full or half marathon as well as the marathon relay. There will be no registrations allowed on race day.
[RACE INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
Runners who do not live at the beaches are encouraged to take 210 to help alleviate traffic congestion.