‘Legacy of love & compassion’: Memorial unveils foundation to honor firefighter lost in the line of duty

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a local firefighter, who died in the line of duty one year ago this month, celebrated his life Saturday with a memorial and launched a foundation in his honor.

Michael Freeland’s memorial celebration at the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters headquarters on Stockton Street was where his family unveiled the Michael Freeland Foundation, to help others who are considering a career as a firefighter.

Freeland’s own career as a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue engineer ended Nov. 11, 2021, when he died of a brain aneurysm while rescuing a woman who had crashed a truck into a pole. He was 36 years old.

“He has left a legacy of love and compassion, serving and putting others before himself,” his mother, Terona Feacher, said. “Just loving on people and smiling instead of frowning.”

Feacher does not run out of adjectives to describe her son.

Michael Freeland with his mom, Terona Feacher (WJXT)

“He was incredible, lovable, affectionate -- very affectionate,” Feacher said. “He was a protector, and he was definitely a giver.”

Feacher wanted the memorial celebration to encompass all that she remembers of who her son was. It was an event that included music, food and words of reflection about Freeland.

Feacher also introduced the foundation created in his honor, which will provide support and resources to teenage mothers and scholarships to those considering a career as a firefighter.

Michael Freeland with his mom, Terona Feacher (WJXT)

“This foundation is really dedicated to him being, if you will, a survivor from a teen parent and single mom,” Feacher said.

Feacher wants the memorial to be a reminder of her son’s impact.

“It is a collaboration of who Mike was as a person,” Feacher said. “It is also for the community to know and understand why we celebrate him as our hero.”

For more on the foundation, visit https://mikefreelandfoundation.org/.

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