With "HomeWalk at Home" United Way of Greater Los Angeles's 13th annual 5K HomeWalk-the single largest annual event to end homelessness-goes virtual
PHOTOS AND VIDEO AVAILABLE BY REQUEST TO [email protected] Images include this years’ participants and closing ceremony, plus HomeWalks from previous years.
Los Angeles, CA—For 13 years, the annual HomeWalk 5K in Downtown Los Angeles has been the nation’s largest annual event to end homelessness. For 2020, it went virtual and COVID-safe with “HomeWalk at Home,” presented by United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Rams. Across the region, participants shared their experiences on social media using the hashtags #HomeWalkatHome and #ItTakesAllofUs.
More than 2,500 people registered to walk, run, ride or hike “alone but together.” Many participated as part of teams sponsored by organizations and all are connected to the countywide movement. Teams such as East West Bank had a socially distanced hike at Eaton Canyon Park, followed by a virtual closing ceremony that brought participants together across the region with elected leaders, sports figures and an inspiring choral performance.
“The pandemic has made it harder than ever before to live outside, but it’s also rallied us to end homelessness as our communities need us now more than ever.” said Elise Buik, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, in her address at the virtual closing ceremony. “Just two weeks ago, voters supported Measure J to invest in care and racial justice instead of trying to arrest our way out of this problem. In the last six months, we brought more than eight thousand people inside to keep them safe during this pandemic. Today we are walking, running, hiking and riding forward – and bringing thousands more people in along the way.”
The closing ceremony included special appearances by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Peter Laugharn, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; CSH Speak Up advocates La Rae Cantley and Marlon Pryor, who told their stories about experiencing homelessness; and a powerful musical performance by the Urban Voices Project. Many members of the Los Angeles Rams participated such as Head Coach Sean McVay; Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff; Defensive Lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day (#69) and Offensive Tackle Andrew Whitworth (#77), four-time Pro-Bowler and 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award nominee; the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders, and team mascot, Rampage.
“This year has proved to be challenging on so many levels,” said Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay. “We are proud to team up with United Way of Greater Los Angeles to make a difference and help our homeless neighbors who need our support now more than ever. We cannot sit on the sidelines while 66,000 Angelenos suffer on our streets. It’s going to take a sustained team effort to power all of us to help prevent and end homelessness. The LA Rams are committed to bringing everyone in to provide the safety and stability of a home for our neighbors in need.”
The 13th annual HomeWalk wouldn’t be possible without the generous support from event sponsors including presenting sponsors Los Angeles Rams and Everyone In; fundraising match sponsor the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; major sponsors the Annenberg Foundation and SoCalGas; and event sponsors Bank of Hope, City National Bank, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Oaktree Capital, PwC, Valero Wilmington Refinery and United Way Partner, East West Bank.
“From within the shadows, we always turn to the greatest sources of light,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “In this moment of crisis, United Way walks with the most vulnerable towards a new day—and HomeWalk reaffirms our commitment to the mission of ending homelessness in Los Angeles.”
Over the past twelve years, HomeWalk has raised a total of over $9.7 million. This year’s virtual HomeWalk has currently raised more than $275,000 doubled for a total of $550,000 thanks to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Match Challenge. Donations are being accepted and matched until December 31, 2020. To donate please go to Donate Now at HomeWalkLA.org.
“It was a pleasure to join all the HomeWalkers today who were virtually participating at home,” said Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff. “The Rams and United Way of Greater Los Angeles understand that the roots of homelessness are often a result of racial inequity, housing inequity and education inequity. For the Rams, ‘It Takes All of Us’ means tackling all of those issues to solve homelessness and to make sure that all of our neighbors and Angelenos can live in a safe home. It’s amazing to see the strides we are making thanks to those who joined us today and all of our partners.”
Peter Laugharn, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation spoke during the closing ceremony event. “While this year's event may look a little different, I can still feel the energy of our shared passion of ending homelessness,” Laugharn said. “The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation believes that housing ends homelessness. We shall succeed if housing comes first. The United Way of Greater Los Angeles has been an unmissable partner in this effort.”
Throughout the day, approximately 121 teams comprising 2,608 people participated in “HomeWalk at Home”. Once again, the top fundraising spot was won by SoCalGas, with more than $140,000 in contributions and over 900 registered walkers and runners. This year’s top individual fundraiser was SoCalGas’ Denita Willoughby, who raised over $85,000 to date. SoCalGas employees have raised more than $2 million for HomeWalk since 2007.
"The pandemic has magnified inequities in our communities, and it is crucial that we support those who are struggling—even though this year we are not able to walk physically side by side," said Sandra Hrna, vice president of human resources & diversity and inclusion at SoCalGas and board member at United Way of Greater LA. "If you’re able, please support the effort to end homelessness via HomeWalk. Those struggling against homelessness need you now more than ever."
Other top fundraising teams include: East West Bank, MWest Polaris, Home For Good, Warner Music Group, Korn Ferry LA and City National Bank; and the following top teams had a combined total of over 1400 participants- SoCalGas, East West Bank, AADAP, After School All-Stars and SBCC.
“I am in awe of the excitement generated by this year’s virtual event. The CSH Speak Up! Advocates are busy sharing videos of their walks around the county and posting their stories on social media about what Homewalk means to them,” said Ann English, Senior Program Manager, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Speak Up! LA. “I am always inspired and grateful for the partnership of United Way to fully support the participation of individuals who are impacted by the work we all do.”
United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization fighting to end poverty by preparing students for high school graduation, college, and the workforce; housing our homeless neighbors; and guiding hard-working families towards economic mobility. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change.