Community helps homeless veteran run to a better life

Goodwill Manasota, Will Robinson, Fit2Run and Children’s World support formerly homeless veteran in half marathon effort

Published Thursday, January 18, 2018

MarathonSARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Launched in 2013, Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program was created to help eliminate barriers to employment, provide opportunities for higher-paying positions for veterans and their families, and connect veterans with needed social services. Recently, program staff helped to coordinate an effort with several community partners to get a formerly homeless veteran back on his feet … and running toward a better life.

Jason Brown served four years with the U.S. Navy, achieving the rank of Missile Technician Third Class (E-4). During his service, Brown began to show symptoms of PTSD. He developed addiction issues while trying to block out the flashbacks and night terrors he was experiencing. Eventually, his addiction issues landed him in Veterans Treatment Court. 

Veterans Treatment Court is a court-supervised program coupled with intensive treatment and supervision for high risk-high need criminal offenders. It was through this organization that Brown was first put in touch with Goodwill’s Veteran Services Program; he found comfort in attending Goodwill’s weekly BRAVE (Benefits, Resources and Veterans Education) program meetings. 

Unfortunately, over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, Brown had a relapse and ended up losing his housing. Veterans Treatment Court notified Goodwill’s veterans program team, which helped Brown to find emergency shelter – and, later, permanent housing – transportation, and food assistance. 

Since then, Brown has made it his personal mission to help other veterans facing similar situations. He has dedicated himself to spreading the word about the programs that helped him on his journey back to wellness and offering his support and guidance to peers in need. Additionally, in an effort to deal with his addictions and PTSD, and lose some weight, he started running. This activity has helped guide him on the path to a healthier lifestyle.

After hearing Brown’s story and learning that he was interested in running a half marathon, Goodwill Ambassador Will Robinson – a principal at Blalock Walters, P.A who is also running for Florida’s House of Representatives – offered to sponsor Brown in the February 4th Sarasota Music Half Marathon. Additionally, Robinson – an avid runner whose family runs a local Fit2Run store – arranged for Brown to receive a new pair of running shoes for the upcoming challenge. Another Goodwill Ambassador, Children’s World, is creating T-shirts bearing the name HERO RUN, to raise awareness of the issues facing area veterans. 

“This is a perfect example of a community coming together to help a veteran in need,” said C.J. Bannister, director of Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program. “It goes to show that no matter what business you’re in or what your background is, we can all do something to make a difference in someone’s life. Will and I are looking forward to wearing our special T-shirts and rooting Jason on during his 'hero run' on February 4th!”

For more information about Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program, go to or call (941) 355-2721, ext. 451.


PHOTO ID: Fit2Run store associate Nathan Stotler, Goodwill Ambassador Will Robinson, Jason Brown, and C.J. Bannister, director of Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program


About Goodwill Manasota

Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2016, Goodwill Manasota served 28,207 people, placed 755 people in jobs and assisted 240 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $92.1 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted more than 40 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit