Running for Increased Access to Justice

By Hon. Sergio A. Gutierrez

What do you get when you combine a run/walk race event with a charitable cause? You get the Access to Justice 5K FUND Run/Walk! The A2J 5K race is entering its 7th year in 2020 and is proving to be quite a success.

Race Background

The creation of A2J 5k was the legacy project of a graduate of the Idaho State Bar’s Academy of Leadership for Lawyers. Maureen Ryan Braley, Associate Director of the Idaho State Bar, participated in IALL in 2014. Maureen was a runner and knew lots of other lawyers who were runners. She wanted to create a lawyer-focused running event that raised funds and awareness for an important cause – the need for free civil legal services for poor and disadvantaged Idahoans.
In addition, she wanted to create an event where people of all income levels, especially younger attorneys, could feel like they were helping a good cause without having to write a big check. For just $25, participants can enjoy a beautiful day outside in Boise’s Foothills and know they are supporting a great cause.

All proceeds raised through the A2J FUND RUN/WALK race go directly to help address the legal needs of less fortunate individuals and families served by the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program, Disability Rights Idaho, and Idaho Legal Aid Services. In 2019, the legal community together with the general community helped raise over $12,000.00 in sponsorships and entry fees, including a generous contribution from our Lead Sponsor, the Fourth District Bar Association.
Since its inception in 2014, the event has raised over $48,000 for the Access to Justice Idaho Campaign. These funds help survivors of domestic violence, victims of unlawful housing practices, victims of consumer scams, and people with disabilities receive benefits and entitlements. The growing participation of members of the legal and general communities has been exciting to see.

Success in 2019

In 2019, 280 people registered for the A2J 5K FUND Run/Walk. The contribution of the folks who register makes a meaningful impact. As Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we all can do small things with great love.”
Having run the A2J 5K run, I can tell you that the race venue and course is just what one would want to experience regardless of age, ability, and fitness level. The race takes off from Fort Boise Park. Those of you who have run Robie Creek will feel right at home with the setting. For those who have not, just imagine hearing the theme music to the movie “Rocky” at the start of the race.

You then take off on Mountain Cove Road with a gentle ascent for 1 ½ miles. At the turnaround, and if you have entered your four-legged friend in the race, you will get a chance to water up at the Camp Bow Wow water station before having gravity give you just the right push to the finish line.

Upon completion of the race, you will be able to enjoy meeting a host of great community sponsors along with treats for you and your four-legged friend. Camp Bow Wow, Bandana Running and Walking, and Jete Bars are just a few of the community businesses that sponsored the event in 2019. We hope to recruit even more great local businesses as sponsors in 2020.

Awards are given to the top three finishers in the following categories: men, women, high school boys, high school girls, boys 12 and under, and girls 12 and under. In 2019, we added the esteemed Learned Foot travelling trophy that is awarded to the biggest team. The Idaho Supreme Court team won last year’s Learned Foot trophy. Who will win it in 2020?

How to Get Involved

Not into running or walking, but love the outdoors? The event needs volunteers! The A2J FUND RUN/WALK needs individuals to help check in racers, record scores, and direct racers along the course. Volunteering at the event is a great way to see what it is all about. It takes up a few hours one beautiful Saturday morning, but by the end of your shift you will want to be a participant the next season.

Attorneys work long grueling hours and they need a chance to get some fresh air and interact with colleagues outside of the courtroom and office. It is clear from the smiles and cheers from the participants and volunteers that everyone at the event is enjoying themselves.

You will not want to miss this great race event. I cannot promise everyone will experience a runner’s high, but I can promise everyone will have helped make a difference in the lives of many individuals and families who benefited from your thoughtfulness.

Hon. Sergio A. Gutierrez retired from the Idaho Court of Appeals bench in 2018. Judge Gutierrez always enjoys a good run, but even more so when it’s for a good cause.