Audrey volunteers because at age 72, she is unscathed. Tina volunteers because it is the emotional charity of her choice for getting her required high school community service hours. Many volunteers are survivors. Some volunteer to give back to the community, because a loved one survived. Others volunteer because a loved one did not survive and they want to help finish breast cancer once and for all.
In 2008, three-time breast cancer survivor, Donna Deegan, launched the 26.2 With DONNA, the only marathon in the U.S. dedicated solely to raising funds to end breast cancer. It is the only marathon in the world that donates 100 percent of net race proceeds. Seventy percent goes directly to The Mayo Clinic for research; thirty percent is used to assist breast cancer patients with critical financial needs.
With more than $1.2 million in contributions from the 26.2 With DONNA, Mayo Clinic has established the Breast Cancer Translational Genomics Program, and under the direction of Dr. Edith Perez, MD, Mayo researchers are working hard to finish breast cancer. The team has created one of the first templates for translating each patient’s genome information into meaningful clues that will help individualize all aspects of breast cancer care including diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.
The 26.2 with DONNA began with 1,000 runners their first year and has grown to 10,000 runners in only five years – runners that come from all 50 states and 20 countries worldwide. With a staff of four full-time and two part-time employees, putting on a race of this magnitude, with its associated special events, requires lots of extra hands, and the 2,500 volunteers with their 5,000 willing hands are crucial to the success of the race.
These volunteers do office work throughout the year. They do everything from set up and break down at each event, stuff 12,000 runners’ bags, hand them out, collect them before the run and get them back to the runners after the run. They get runners on the start line, hand out water and cheer them on and through the race – then hand out medals at the finish line. Most of all, they offer hope. They’re the first to tell new volunteers or new runners or new expo attendees that we’re closer to the cure than when they first began volunteering. The 26.2 with DONNA will receive The Tillie Kidd Fowler Spirit of Service Award at Celebrate!GOOD 2014.