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Jax Daily Record Friday, Mar. 15, 201904:00 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Young lawyers’ chili cook-off sets records

The group donated more than $18,000 to Best Buddies Jacksonville.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The 10th annual Jacksonville Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Charity Chili Cook-off in February at Riverside Arts Market set two records: one for the young lawyers, who raised more money than in any previous year, and another for the nonprofit that received its largest single-source donation.

A check for $18,151.56 was presented Monday to Melissa Vereen, program manager of community engagement for Best Buddies Jacksonville.

The donation was nearly double last year’s record of $10,400 raised for Rethreaded.

Vereen said it was the largest single donation for the Jacksonville office of the statewide nonprofit that provides programs and employment support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in elementary, middle and high schools, colleges and universities.

The donation will allow Best Buddies to increase the number of schools it serves locally from 28 to 30.

“We’ve never had a group donate more than $10,000,” Vereen said.

The total included team registration fees, sponsorships and more than $2,000 that was donated by the public at the event, said Amanda Thomas, committee chair.

Courtroom lobby to be dedicated to Kenny Arnold

The lobby of Courtroom 212 at the Duval County Courthouse will be dedicated in honor of Kenneth “Kenny” Arnold Sr. at 9 a.m. Wednesday.


Arnold was 63 when he died Feb. 27 in an automobile accident.

He was a human resource leader at River Region Human Services Inc. for 25 years and one of the founders of Adult Drug Court in Duval County in 1994.

What started as a single program in Duval County grew to nine nationally recognized problem-solving courts in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties focusing on adults, juveniles, families, people suffering from mental illness and military veterans. 

Arnold’s expertise was sought at the local, state and national levels as he was appointed to the state Supreme Court’s Treatment-Based Drug Court Steering Committee and served as an adviser to the U.S. Department of Justice Programs Office, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the National Drug Court Institute.

An Air Force veteran, Arnold was buried with military honors March 5 at the Jacksonville National Cemetery.

‘Wish Madness’ is March 28

Five law firms are among the sponsors of the third annual Wish Madness Jax, an NCAA men’s basketball tournament viewing party to benefit Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida.

Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart and Morgan & Morgan are the presenting sponsors of the event, scheduled at 6:30 p.m. March 28 at Mercedes-Benz of Jacksonville.

Gunster Jacksonville associate attorney Kellie Humphries is chair of the event.

Akerman, Holland & Knight and Nelson Mullins also are sponsors. The goal for the evening is to raise $100,000 to fulfill the wishes of 12 children living in Northeast Florida who have critical illnesses.

Tickets are $75 per person for viewing two “Sweet 16” round games, a live and silent auction and food and beverages catered by local restaurants and craft brewers.

Visit for reservations.

Legal CommUNITY Day is April 6

Members of local Bar associations will meet at noon April 6 at the Feeding Northeast Florida distribution warehouse at 1116 Edgewood Ave. N. for an afternoon of service to the community.

Volunteers will inspect, sort and pack food items that will be distributed to people in need, including families, children, veterans and seniors.

According to Feeding Northeast Florida, more than 230,000 people, including 81,000 children, in the area struggle to put food on the table.

Volunteers will receive a CommUNITY day T-shirt and lunch. Funding is provided by The Florida Bar.

Visit to register.

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