Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Difference a Year Makes

On February 17, 2008, I ran the inaugural "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer." On that day one very special person was at the finish line cheering for me. For those of you who have followed this blog it was Donna Nelson. The picture of us at the finish line is still the "inspiration" for this blog. Donna could not run in 2008 as she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2007. I remember her telling me that she would be running the race "next year" and I could be waiting for her at the finish line. Thankfully, she completed her treatments and was able to resume running.

Fast forward to Sunday, February 15, 2009, Jacksonville Beach, FL. Donna is ready to run the race that had eluded her last year. She would have a friend and breast cancer survivor, Jodi, running with her today. When I finished my run one of the first people I saw was Donna's husband Fred. He had received an update on Donna's progress and we knew when to expect her at the finish. As the runners came across the finish we got our first glimpse of Donna and Jodi. Our smiles of joy turned to tears, then back to smiles. As Fred did last year, he took the camera and snapped a 2009 version of "Inspiration". What a difference a year makes.

Thank You Donna Deegan

Although this blog is almost one year old, I had never had the opportunity to meet Donna Deegan, the race founder. On Saturday, at the race expo, I finally got to collect the hug she promised me in an earlier e-mail. Having read so much about her, hearing comments from others who have met her, it was finally my time to meet and learn first hand about this incredible lady. Do you know that feeling when you meet someone for the first time and you feel as though you have known them forever? My experience wasn't meeting her for the first time, it was a "reunion". She was even more gracious than I had expected and her smile conveyed the spirit that drives her to do what she does for the fight against breast cancer.

Thank you Donna for all that you do. Prayers & Love.