On Saturday, November 19, United Way of Greater Los Angeles welcomed approximately 10,000 eager participants to Exposition Park for its fifth annual 5K Run/Walk to end homelessness.
With Kobe Bryant serving as Honorary Chair and Fox Eleven News’ Christine Devine hosting the opening ceremony, HomeWalk 2011 proved to be the organization’s most high-profile event to date.
Other notable guests included various elected officials, social media activist Mark Horvath, Zach Bonner of the Little Red Wagon Foundation and Ron Thomas, father of the late Kelly Thomas.
Sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Wells Fargo and many others, the massive fundraiser featured dozens of information booths on UWGLA’s community partners, popular food trucks such as Mandoline Grill and Maui Wowi, as well as an early morning address by Kobe Bryant himself.
Bryant underlined the importance of bringing homelessness to the forefront of public discussion while encouraging those in attendance to speak out on behalf of men, women and children in need.
“Unfortunately, over the years, homelessness has faded into the background…almost becoming a part of daily life,” he said. “But we’re here to shake things up, to remind everybody what a serious issue it is and how it can be eradicated. So let’s continue to spread the message, to come together and get this problem out of here!”
So far, HomeWalk 2011 has generated more than $400,000 – every penny of which goes towards the development and implementation of supportive housing solutions for local families, military veterans and the chronically homeless.
According to Elise Buik, President and CEO of United Way of Greater L.A., the sheer scale of this year’s event was not only reassuring – it represented a huge step in the right direction.
“To have thousands of people stand up and say, ‘We will end homelessness together,’ is inspiring and a true testament to what is possible in our community,” she said. “With the help of a champion like Kobe Bryant and all the walkers, runners and volunteers who participated, we’ll be able to house countless homeless individuals. And that’s what it really comes down to: getting people off the streets.”
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