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Scarce Legal Aid Funding Spurs Attorney To Run Six Marathons In Six Days

Nick Evans

A dire lack of funding for low cost legal services in Florida is spurring one man to run six marathons, back to back. Attorney Michael Freed is raising funds and awareness for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. He says since the Great Recession, the need for assistance has risen while funding continues to slip.

"Indigent neighbors of ours in all of our communities across the state are going without the legal guidance that they need to solve problems that'll enable them to become more productive members of society," Freed said.

According to the Legal Services Corporation, legal aid programs help low-income Americans leave abusive relationships, access housing, healthcare, and disability services.

“We have an amazing legal system in our country. But it’s only great if you can have access to it. So if you are a single mother trying to deal with a violent domestic partner, and don’t know how to navigate the legal system, that great legal system is unfortunately useless to you,” Freed said.

According to the American Bar Association, Florida is one of just three states that does not fund civil legal aid, forcing organizations to lean on fundraising and pro bono work.

Freed hopes to make up some of that difference as he runs from Tallahassee to Jacksonville, making stops at county courthouses along the way.

"It seems to be a good way to get people's attention. And people think, 'well if he cares enough about it to train for a year to run six marathons and then to go do it, I can at least part with a little money,'" Freed said.

He'll start at the state Supreme Court on Sunday at 7:30 am, and aims to make it to the Duval County Courthouse on Friday afternoon.

As a Tallahassee native, Kate Payne grew up listening to WFSU. She loves being part of a station that had such an impact on her. Kate is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. With a background in documentary and narrative filmmaking, Kate has a broad range of multimedia experience. When she’s not working, you can find her rock climbing, cooking or hanging out with her cat.