JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Three hundred people ran, walked and rolled through the finish line in a 5K and 1-mile Fun Run in Springfield.
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The inaugural Hope Starts Here 5K was hosted Saturday morning by Operation New Hope and Florida Capital Bank, with a goal to show those affected by the criminal justice system that a second chance is still out there.
Operation New Hope leaders say they believe everyone is better than their worst mistake, worst day or worst decision.
“We have full wrap-around services to help people really rebuild their lives,” Reggie Fullwood, president of Operation New Hope, said.
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For 20 years, the group has helped people transition out of jail and re-enter society.
The re-entry program also helps people find housing, learn job skills, reunite with their families, as well as connect with mental health counselors.
Christopher Simmons works with Operation New Hope and is also a member of Runners Elite.
“They come to our building, and we’re able to give them that opportunity, that hope to get a second chance, a second start at life,” Simmons said.
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Florida Capital Bank, a nationally chartered community bank headquartered in Jacksonville, helped make this event possible. Twenty five percent of their workforce in Jacksonville took part on Saturday.
“Operation New Hope is a wonderful organization that gives people a second chance at life,” Mark Johnson, president of Florida Capital Bank, said. “It’s just part of our commitment to the community to help people become productive citizens and go back into the workforce.”
David Pierson, 74, took part in the Hope Starts Here 5K. He shared what he wants those in need of support to keep in mind.
“They need to have the courage to make that first step,” Pierson said. “There are people who will help, and they understand. They don’t judge them. They understand, and they want to help.”
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Pierson has run in 10 marathons and about 100 races.
“They need to know that they’re not going to condemn me. They’re not going to talk about my history. They’re going to talk about my future,” Pierson said.
More than $10,000 was raised through the Hope Starts Here 5K.
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“We give out second chances,” Simmons said. “A lot of times people don’t get the opportunity to get a second chance.”
If you know anyone who has been impacted by the criminal justice system and is searching for help to re-enter society, you can reach out to Operation New Hope.
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