The DONNA Foundation’s annual Mother’s Day 5K race will run its course on May 13 as planned after the city ultimately approved a permit for the nonprofit group on Friday.
The approval comes after the city initially asked the foundation to move the race to another weekend that isn’t so close to the May 16 mayoral election because it might have the “appearance of improper election influence,” the city’s chief administrative officer said.
That election is between Donna Deegan, the Donna Foundation’s founder, and Daniel Davis, CEO of the Jax Chamber.
Late Friday, Deegan said the permit is good news for the survivors of breast cancer and their supporters, who look forward to the annual event.
“Oh, I am just so happy,” Deegan said. “I am happy for the foundation, I’m happy for the moms and I’m happy for the survivors. It’s a wonderful tradition and I’m very, very pleased that it’s going to continue as it should.”
Asked about the city’s granting the permit after it expressed concerns earlier in the week, the public affairs office provided WJCT News with a statement that it had completed the legally required multi-department review in less than two weeks after receiving the application.
“With that review process complete, the event has approval to proceed,” the email statement continued. “We hope that the city’s past financial and current logistical support to the organization, and the organization’s work on the righteous cause of fighting breast cancer are not misrepresented as political endorsement of any campaign during early voting.”
On Wednesday, Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes had said the city’s request to negotiate a new date with the foundation was “not a denial and it is not an approval.”
“It is an effort to protect the organization and (the city of Jacksonville) from the appearance of improper election influence,” Hughes said.
On Thursday, Deegan said she would not move the date of the event because it already had sponsors, t-shirts and signups for what is a Mother’s Day weekend tradition. She also called the the city’s request “unfortunate.”
The 5K race supports the foundation’s work meeting financial needs of breast cancer patients and their families, and funding research.