If the sponsor of this year’s South Jacksonville Celebration 5k is willing to change their Village Tourism grant application, the 5k will remain in Scot Fitzgerald’s memory and proceeds will continue to be presented to Dani Fitzgerald to secure an education and future for her two children.
The South Jacksonville Board of Trustees met in a Committee of the Whole setting last night to clarify who will receive the proceeds of this year’s 5k the weekend of the Village Celebration. The 5k has been scheduled for October 6th at 8 a.m. Also, a billboard was recently set up by the village to display Scot’s name, badge number and the time and date for the 5k. However, the most recent advertisement of the 5k on the village’s website, southjacksonville.org, does not mention Scot Fitzgerald and makes no mention of the proceeds being donated to an education fund for his children. Instead, the flyer says the proceeds will benefit the South Jacksonville Police Department Drug Prevention Fund.
According to her statements during last night’s meeting, Dani Fitzgerald, Scot’s widow, saw this advertisement on the village website and became very distraught. Apparently, her and Scot’s children were promised these proceeds by former Police Chief Joshua Hallock and veteran Fire Chief David Hickox after Scot’s death in 2016 for the future education of her two children. Mrs. Fitzgerald called Trustee Stacy Pinkerton, who in turn called for last night’s meeting to be held.
Dani Glascock, who is both the former President and current Treasurer of the South Jacksonville Fire Department Auxiliary as well as the former Village Clerk who was still in that position when Scot Fitzgerald passed away, was in attendance and explains the history of the 5k in the village.
“The 5k started a few years ago when Amy Dieter, a local resident, decided to form a 5k run to benefit Village police and fire equally. Then, after Scot’s tragedy, both of the chiefs of the Fire and Police departments decided to forfeit these proceeds to Scot’s widow, Dani, for that year and the future until they are 18 years old to fund the education of Dani and Scot’s two children.”
Scot’s brother Cody Fitzgerald, who was also in attendance last night with other family including Scot and Cody’s parents, describes his relief knowing that his family now has some answers.
“I’m very pleased with how the meeting went this evening. I feel like a lot of questions were answered on both sides, both for the Fitzgerald family and for the Board, in regards to how these proceeds will be handled in the future.”
Trustee Paula Stewart explains why there may have been a lot of potential legal issues.
“There are always legal issues. We have to be very careful as a board, because this is a public entity offering these proceeds to a private cause. We’ve done this in the past through Tourism grant applications. When First Christian Church submitted their Tourism grant application, we were very careful to separate the money from the Village. Our village attorney says, in the future, if we can find a 501(c)(3) that would like to sponsor the 5k, please give Stacy Pinkerton or any of the other trustees a call because we can absolutely start brainstorming for next year’s 5k.”
The Board of Trustees will meet Thursday evening for their regularly scheduled meeting at Village Hall, located at 301 Dewey Drive, beginning at 7 p.m. Accepting the tourism grant from the 5k’s sponsor is listed as an action item for the Thursday meeting. As part of the discussion yesterday evening, the 5k sponsor will be given the opportunity today and/or tomorrow to revise their Tourism grant application so that the proceeds will be given to Dani and Scot Fitzgerald’s two children, instead of the South Jacksonville Police Department Drug Prevention Fund.