Nothing, not even a pandemic, can deter Gunster shareholder Mike Freed and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid from their quest to ensure that Northeast Florida children facing chronic or terminal illnesses will have legal help when they and their families need it.
Freed to Run, the multi-marathon fundraiser Freed began in 2017, is now well over halfway toward its $2.25 million fundraising goal, with donations still rolling in from this year’s Nov. 16-21 Tallahassee-to-Jacksonville odyssey.
“We are so grateful to the broad cross-section of the community that has gotten us this far with their generous contributions,” said Freed, who has now run 24 marathons in four years and personally solicited hundreds of donations toward the event. “With Baptist Health matching all donations at 125% up to $1.25 million, every little bit is more than doubled, so we just need a few more individuals, companies and firms to pitch in.”
Major sponsors include AT&T, Elite Parking Services, the Fannin Johnson Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Florida Blue, Gunster, the Jaguars Foundation, Nemours and VyStar Credit Union.
Freed to Run 4.0 had a few new twists, including a route that incorporated the Baldwin Trail and a virtual run option for those who wanted to participate by running their relay leg in their own neighborhood or on a treadmill.
This year’s 14 relay teams included: the offices of the Fourth Circuit State Attorney and Public Defender; law firms Abel Bean, Akerman LLP, Fisher, Tousey Leas & Ball, and Harrell & Harrell; the Jacksonville Bar Association Solo & Small Firm team; Women’s Giving Alliance; Smoak, Davis & Nixon; solo marathoners Richard Fannin and Eric Krall; and “Back It Like It’s Hot,” a team led by Drs. Nayla and Ali Chahlavi, as well as JALA’s staff and board teams. Fannin and the Chahlavis are event co-chairs along with retired Judge Hugh Carithers.
All donations will fund an endowment for the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership, which addresses the civil legal needs of the region’s pediatric patients and their families and removes barriers to child wellness.
“Freed to Run has been a bright spot in a difficult year for legal aid,” said JALA CEO Jim Kowalski. “During the pandemic, JALA and our fellow legal aid organizations have faced unprecedented need, while at the same time our overall fundraising and pro bono hours have fallen off due to the economic downturn and social distancing. Thankfully, under Mike’s leadership the Freed to Run fundraising kept going, and we hope to see even more donations come in by the end of the year.”