Thousands run marathon to support breast cancer research

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a decade that included nearly 100,000 runners, the Donna 26.2 marathon has become more than just a run -- it's the only marathon in the United States dedicated to breast cancer research.

Thousands of people ran for a reason Sunday.

"I know someone fighting right now, I know some survivors and some that didn't make it," said Kathy Hufstetler, who ran the marathon for the 10th year in a row.

"(It's my) very first marathon, but I ran for my friend Cheryl, who died," Maureen Tinnesz said. "She died (in) November, and I ran in February. It meant the world to me people that had breast cancer (survivors) on the sidelines cheering me on, and I cried the whole time of the marathon."

Some ran for friends, others ran for family members.

"It’s great -- everyone coming up on my back and they're giving me high-fives and all that, so it's really -- everybody's together here," said Charlie LaRue, who ran for his mom.

Since its inception, Donna Marathon Weekend has raised more than $5 million in funding for the Donna Foundation.

Donations support breast cancer research at Mayo Clinic and provide financial assistance to those living with breast cancer.

News4Jax caught up with runners at the finish line about racing for the cause.

"It was awesome," first-time runner Katrina Cicirello said. "It was a great experience. I didn't think I could make it. I didn't stop though. It's amazing. It's really inspiring to see everyone running for their mothers and their friends or family. It's awesome. It's a great experience."

"(It) just overwhelms you, and I will run every year until I can't really -- can't run anymore or walk," Tinnesz said.The fun doesn't end at the finish line though.

On Feb. 20 there is an event called Tacos for TaTas: Pink Tie Edition at HOBNOB on Riverside Avenue from 6-9 p.m. It features food and beverages, music and dance lessons.Tickets are $100 per person and all proceeds go to the Donna Foundation.

About the Author:

Lifetime Floridian anchors weekends and reports weekdays on issues in Nassau and Baker counties and beyond.