JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The annual Donna Foundation Mother’s Day 5K, which was set to take place again on May 13, is being asked by the city of Jacksonville to find a different date for its race this year.
City officials said that with Donna Deegan, the founder and namesake of the Donna Foundation charity, currently running for mayor of Jacksonville, it would not be appropriate for the foundation’s 5K race to take place while early voting is underway and the May election is just days away on May 16.
The Donna Foundation has been encouraged to reschedule the race outside of the voting period.
“It would be unfortunate for the timing to lead citizens to question COJ involvement in the election process,” Brian Hughes, Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer, said. “For that reason, I wonder if the organization would consider a date change to the Saturday after Mother’s Day rather than the Saturday prior. It would still be the week of Mother’s Day but would then come after the conclusion of the election, ensuring no confusion of COJ involvement related to the election.”
For now, the permit for the 5K has not been issued.
“The email is clear. It is not a denial and it is not an approval. It is an effort to protect the organization and COJ from the appearance of improper election influence,” Hughes said. “Since it was an invitation to consider a reasonable alternative and to follow up in discussion, the organization choosing to ignore the invitation and instead give an incorrect account to media is a disappointment.”
We spoke with Amanda Napolitano, Executive Director of The DONNA Foundation, Wednesday morning. This is what she had to say.
The DONNA Foundation operates independently of Donna Deegan’s mayoral campaign. It is unfortunate that the City of Jacksonville is currently withholding approval of The DONNA Foundation’s permit for the 2023 Black Knight DONNA Mother’s Day 5K, alluding to an “unintended public perception” of COJ’s involvement in the election process.
We sincerely hope that this matter is resolved quickly so we can all move forward and restore our focus where it belongs: on celebrating survivorship, supporting breast cancer patients and funding critical research.Amanda Napolitano, Executive Director of The DONNA Foundation
News4JAX also reached out to the Daniel Davis campaign. They said we should reach out to the City of Jacksonville for more information.
The Black Knight Donna Mother’s Day 5K was held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day last year when it debuted as the first Mother’s Day race in Riverside in the Foundation’s 19-year history.
The foundation has hosted races around Mother’s Day for years, often connected to The Players Championship when it was held in May.
Napolitano said The Donna Foundation intends to move forward with the Mother’s Day 5K as scheduled at this time because they are unable to reschedule the event and remain optimistic that a permit approval will come through.
The Donna Foundation said it has held a Mother’s Day 5K event for 16 years and as far as the application process for permitting, it did follow the foundation’s normal process. It is not uncommon to be working through the permitting process with the city in the weeks leading up to an event, Napolitano said.
This year’s permit was submitted Friday, March 24, approximately seven weeks out from the event. The foundation received confirmation and plans from JSO on Monday, March 27, it said.