Freed to Run passes $1 million mark

The goal is to raise $2.25 million for legal aid for children and families.

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Three years into his five-year program to raise money to support a $2.25 million endowment at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, attorney Mike Freed, founder of Freed to Run, has passed the $1 million mark.

Freed to Run, a daily marathon run for six consecutive days, starts at the state Supreme Court in Tallahassee and ends at the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville.

The run stops each day at county courthouses along the route.

When Freed crossed the finish line Dec. 20 at the Duval County Courthouse, the donations to date totaled $1,035,000, including a match from the Baptist Health Foundation.

A shareholder in Gunster's Jacksonville office, Freed set a goal when he debuted the event in 2017 to raise $1 million for the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

It provides civil legal assistance to about 200 pediatric patients and their families each year, free of charge.

Baptist Health became a partner in the campaign in 2018, pledging to match at 125% the amount donors committed to Freed to Run.

In 2019, more groups joined the effort, including the Women's Giving Alliance, the Jaguars Foundation, Florida Blue, JAX Chamber, Community First Credit Union, Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida School of Music.

Attorneys ran along with Freed during the six-day series.

Law firms represented in 2019 included Fisher, Tousey, Leas & Ball; Harrell & Harrell; The Truck Accident Law Firm; Jacksonville Area Legal Aid lawyers and board members; and attorneys from the offices of State Attorney Melissa Nelson and Public Defender Charlie Cofer.

In addition, the Phillips & Hunt law firm sponsored a fundraiser at the Duuuval House before the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts game to benefit Freed to Run.

“We invite anyone who'd like to help us reach our $2.25 million goal to reach out to us in 2020,” said Jim Kowalski, JALA CEO.

“If you're active in a company or community organization with a philanthropic program, we want to hear from you, whether it's a golf tournament, a charity auction or a bake sale. No effort is too big or too small,” Kowalski said.