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Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund offers $25,000 match for the Freed to Run Challenge supporting Jacksonville Area Legal Aid

Special to the News Top Stories

Legendary Boston Marathon winner Jack Fultz will appear at the November 17-18 event to support philanthropic effort of local marathon-running lawyer Mike Freed

Mike Freed running

Mike Freed is preparing for his annual charity Freed to Run Challenge in November. The Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund will match $25,000 in donations to the 2023 event, provided it raises at least $75,000 from other donors.

Jacksonville philanthropist Delores Barr Weaver has offered a multi-year challenge grant to encourage donations to the November 17-18 Freed to Run Challenge, the proceeds of which will benefit Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s Shelter for Elders endowment to fund legal aid for area seniors facing housing instability.

The Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund will match $25,000 in donations to the 2023 Freed to Run Challenge, provided the event raises at least $75,000 from other donors. In addition, over the following two years, the fund will match a gift of up to $25,000 from a single donor each year, dollar-for-dollar, provided that at least $50,000 can be raised from additional donors. The challenge grant is designed to help the Freed to Run Challenge meet its $100,000 fundraising goal each year.

Weaver, former co-majority owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has a history of raising funds through running that goes back to 1990, when she offered a dollar-for-dollar matching challenge grant of up to $50,000 to a group of runners who would compete in the Boston Marathon. All the funds raised would go to the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research, which Weaver had established in 1987 at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in memory of her mother, Claudia Adams Barr, who died of breast cancer.

Dana-Farber recruited Jack Fultz, a legendary Boston Marathon winner, to build and coach a team of 19 charity runners training for the race, and together that team raised $51,000 to trigger Weaver’s challenge. Since 1990, the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge has raised more than $122 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Soon, Fultz will join local marathon-running lawyer and fellow Georgetown University alumnus Mike Freed, a Gunster shareholder, in Jacksonville’s own blend of athletic achievement and philanthropy. The pair will join forces to generate support for the Freed to Run Challenge, a 24-hour relay event where participants will complete laps around the Duval County Courthouse.

Fultz, then a student, won the 1976 Boston Marathon, running in temperatures over 100 degrees. He staged an astonishing victory after taking the lead on Heartbreak Hill, cementing his name in Boston Marathon history. His winning time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, and 19 seconds marked one of the largest upsets in the history of the event.

Two years later, in 1978, Fultz participated in the inaugural Gate River Run, then known as River Run 15,000, in Jacksonville. Bill Rodgers emerged victorious in this race, but Fultz secured a third-place finish in challenging conditions.

Three weeks later, the spotlight once again fell on the Boston Marathon, where Rodgers and Fultz were again competing. Rodgers secured his second Boston Marathon title, winning by a mere 2 seconds, while Fultz finished fourth in a personal best time of 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 15 seconds, taking nine minutes off his 1976 time.

This November, Fultz will return to Jacksonville — this time, for the Freed to Run Challenge — where at The Fannin-Johnson Group of Wells Fargo Advisors team tent he will sign autographs, meet and greet runners, and offer running tips specifically tailored for the relay.

“We are honored and proud that Jack Fultz is taking the time to return to Jacksonville, and we hope the community will turn out to meet him,” Freed said.

Freed’s own running-based philanthropic mission began in 2017 when he embarked on a six-day run from the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee to the Duval County Courthouse to raise funds for JALA and its Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership, which funds legal aid for pediatric patients and their families. Over the course of six years, Freed’s relentless efforts raised $2.25 million for the cause, thanks in large part to matching funds from the Baptist Health Foundation.

“JALA feels so incredibly fortunate that the visionary Mike Freed has not only chosen JALA as the beneficiary of his prodigious fundraising, but also that he has engaged other visionaries like Delores Barr Weaver in his efforts,” said said JALA President and CEO Jim Kowalski. “We are so grateful to live in such a civic-minded and generous community. The needs are so great, but our community rises to the challenge again and again. We can’t say enough to thank Delores Barr Weaver, and we look forward to hosting the legendary Jack Fultz.”

To donate to or register for the Freed to Run Challenge, visit www.jaxlegalaid.org/freedtorun. And if you are interested in making a major gift, contact JALA Chief Development Officer Dennis Harrison at [email protected] or 904-356-8371, ext. 296.

Nancy Kinnally is CEO of the Relatable Communications Group.

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