Freed to Run 2023 event will support JALA’s Shelter for Elders endowment

Following the success of Freed to Run, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and Gunster shareholder Mike Freed are working together to create a Shelter for Elders endowment to support JALA’s housing-related legal assistance for indigent seniors.


“With Freed to Run, we created permanent legal aid funding to serve Northeast Florida children whose health issues are further complicated by their civil legal needs,” Freed said. “Now we are going to do the same for our elders who are faced with housing insecurity in their golden years.”

The new endowment also comes with a new event format. While Freed to Run was a six-marathon series from the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee to the Duval County Courthouse, the Freed to Run challenge will happen on the streets surrounding the courthouse throughout of Friday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 18.

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Individual participants and relay teams will raise funds for the endowment through peer-to-peer fundraising while completing half-mile laps around the Duval County Courthouse in a period of either 12 or 24 hours. The distance covered by each person or team will be measured by counting the number of laps they complete around the courthouse. Participants do not need to be runners.

The Shelter for Elders endowment will support JALA’s work to prevent and address housing issues, such as reverse mortgage foreclosures, door-to-door scams, wrongful evictions, substandard living conditions, discriminatory practices and other shelter-related challenges faced by vulnerable seniors.

Enabling seniors to shelter in place also results in positive health outcomes, as compared to when they are forced into long-term-care or other congregate living facilities.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations recognize housing stability as a social determinant of health. People who experience trouble paying rent or spend the bulk of a household income on housing can experience negative physical health outcomes as a result. It also makes it harder to access health care. JALA’s work with seniors also involves helping them address civil legal issues related to medical debt, which is at crisis levels in America.

“The Shelter for Elders endowment will provide a permanent funding source for legal resources, expert counsel, and advocacy services to supplement grant funding designated for seniors that has historically fallen well short of the need,” JALA president and CEO Jim Kowalski said. “With our new event format, we anticipate that many more people will be able to participate. No one has to take a day off of work or travel to a distant starting point. Almost anyone can participate in an event that is entirely local on a weekend, and in which they can go at their own pace. One need not be a runner at all.”

Former Jacksonville Sheriff Nat Glover will be the race starter on Nov. 17, and Olympian Garrett Scantling will be the finish-line master of ceremonies on Nov. 18.

To register or donate, visit

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