‘I’m Running the New York City Marathon in Honor of Jabar Walker— One Mile for Every Year of Liberty He’s Lost’
Three Innocence Project staffers share their motivation for running the 2023 NYC marathon.
10.24.23 By Alicia Maule
On Nov. 5, over 50,000 runners will take off from Staten Island and begin a 26.2-mile journey to Manhattan’s Central Park as part of the TCS New York City Marathon. For many participants, it’s a symbol of resilience, hope, and personal journeys. In a past marathon, Susan Friedman, an Innocence Project attorney, ran alongside Huwe Burton, a person she helped free after three decades of wrongful imprisonment. This year, Vanessa Potkin, the director of special litigation, Brenda Cachay Gutiérrez, a paralegal, and Kanani Schnider, another paralegal, will run in the hopes of spotlighting their clients’ long and unjust wrongful incarceration.
“I am running the New York City Marathon on behalf, and in honor, of Mr. Jabar Walker — one mile for every year of liberty he has lost,” said Ms. Cachay, who is a former high school cross country athlete running the marathon for the first time.
On Apr. 7, 1998, Mr. Walker was sentenced to 50 years in prison for a crime he did not commit in New York. Since his conviction nearly 26 years ago, Mr. Walker has worked tirelessly to prove his innocence, hoping to return home to his family — and, most of all, his mother and two daughters.
“Over the past year, I have gotten to know Mr. Walker, and increasingly grown to admire his strength and perseverance, both as a client and friend,” Ms. Cachay said.
“During a recent visit, Mr. Walker shared one of the ways in which he escapes the realities of prison: Every day that he can or is able to, he retreats to the small, outdoor space adjacent to his cell and runs back and forth, imagining a future in which he is, once again, free.”
Together, Mr. Walker and Ms. Cachay set a goal of running a race together when he is freed from prison. Ms. Cachay will run this year’s marathon for Mr. Walker, but her next race will be with him.
Similarly, Ms. Schnider is motivated to run the marathon in support of Rodney Reed, who has maintained his innocence on death row for more than 25 years for a murder that happened in Bastrop, Texas.
“Mr. Reed remains in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day on death row in Texas,” she said.
“Per his request, I will be running in a “FREE RODNEY REED” shirt in hopes that people will read about his story and support his fight.”
Learn more about the Innocence Project marathon runners, cheer them on, and help them reach their fundraising goals.
Meet the Innocence Project runners
Brenda Cachay Gutiérrez, Paralegal
Why I’m running: In honor of Jabar Walker — one mile for every year of liberty he has lost.
Marathon music of choice: A combination of Spanish music, throwbacks, and songs that clients have recommended, including “Eye of the Tiger” and “Till I Collapse.”
Experience: Most recently, I ran the New Balance Bronx 10 Mile and ran cross country in high school.
Running shoe: Hoka Clifton 9
Bib number: 44385
Support my campaign goal of $3,500 for the Innocence Project: here.
Kanani Schnider, Paralegal
Why I’m running: I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Mr. Reed and I hope that running for his cause can amplify his story.
Marathon music of choice: Lots of music from the 90s and 00s.
Experience: This will be my first marathon.
Running shoe: Altra Provision 6
Bib number: 48476
Support my campaign goal of raising $3,500 for the Innocence Project: here.
Vanessa Potkin, Director of Special Litigation
Why I’m running: For the women of the Mountain View Unit – Rosa Jimenez, exonerated and in need of a life-saving kidney transplant, and Darlie Routier and Melissa Lucio, innocent mothers on death row fighting for their freedom.
Marathon music of choice: Artists from each of the five boroughs, starting on Staten Island’s Verrazano Bridge with Method Man’s “Bring the Pain”.
Experience: First marathon.
Running shoe: Brooks Ghost
Bib number: 48163
Support my campaign goal of helping Rosa Jimenez find a kidney donor: here.
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