Cold, rain can’t stop man from crossing marathon finish line for wife who beat cancer twice

Donna Marathon holds first in-person race since pandemic began

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A sea of pink flooded the beaches for the annual Donna Marathon on Sunday morning.

The wind and rain didn’t stop thousands of runners from crossing the finish line at the 15th annual Donna Marathon.

Brian O’Neil’s wife, Melissa, placed a medal around his neck and gave him a big kiss once he finished the race.

“My wife Melissa is a two-time survivor and all of the other people who can’t do this. This is an awesome event,” Brian O’Neil said.

This is the first time since the pandemic the race could be in person.

It brings runners from across the world to Jacksonville Beach as they race to finish breast cancer. Andrew Rowell and Price McLemore traveled from Montgomery Alabama to support their wives.

“We’re real proud of them,” said Rowell.

“They’re usually eating Advil at this point and time but they gave us the thumbs up so we know that they’re hanging in there,” said McLemore.

This marathon is not only to bring awareness but to celebrate survivors and to bring hope. Sunday was Meaghan Murray’s fifth time winning the Donna Marathon in honor of her mother.

“My mother is a breast cancer survivor and it’s very near and dear to my heart and just this community and the Donna Foundation is the most inspiring amazing community I’ve ever been around,” said Murray.

Melissa O’Neil said even though she didn’t run this year, she’s grateful her husband could.

“I am super proud of him. He is one of my whys. Why I am still here. And we are blessed. We are totally blessed. And I love him,” said O’Neil.

About the Author:

Corley Peel is a Texas native and Texas Tech graduate who covered big stories in Joplin, Missouri, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Jacksonville, Florida before returning to the Lone Star State. When not reporting, Corley enjoys hot yoga, Tech Football, and finding the best tacos in town.