Dear Neighbors,

I knew it was going to be an emotional race. The fact that I am still here living and breathing and healthy at our 10th Anniversary DONNA Marathon weekend is alone enough to bring tears of gratitude to my eyes. After an amazing inaugural 10k downtown Saturday morning, it was a relief to finally get to the marathon start line on Sunday morning. But when I made the first turn onto A1A, I almost immediately began to cry. This is a stretch before we get to the more populated portion of the course that is relatively quiet but it was packed with people cheering and waving and holding signs of encouragement. It was only a taste of things to come. From Ponte Vedra, through Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic beaches there was barely a space where people weren’t lining the course. I truly wish there was a way to thank each of you personally. I know that having thousands of people run through our neighborhoods is disruptive to our quiet Sunday routine, so I appreciate beyond words the fact that this community has taken it upon itself to turn out en masse to support this event and all that it stands for. It was a warm day and families were outside hosing off our runners, offering them ice bags and popsicles, I even saw a sign that said, “Need a bathroom break? Come on in!” Now that’s love! Seriously, I want to thank you, my long-time neighbors and friends, for making this the best DONNA race weekend yet. I cried all the way to the finish line. Joyful tears. You fill my heart.

Donna Deegan