For 13 years, the annual HomeWalk 5K in Downtown Los Angeles has been the nation's largest annual event to end homelessness.
On Saturday, November 14th, it went virtual with the "HomeWalk at Home," presented by United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Rams. Across the Southern California region, Angelenos joined the fight against homelessness and participated in their own 5k walk, run, bike ride or hike while sharing their experiences on social media using the hashtags #HomeWalkatHome and #ItTakesAllofUs.
"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. "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."
More than 2,500 people registered to join the effort and tune into a virtual closing ceremony that featured remarks from elected leaders such as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as well as Rams Head Coach SEAN McVAY, Chief Operating Officer KEVIN DEMOFF, Defensive Linemen SEBASTIAN JOSEPH-DAY and Offensive Tackle ANDREW WHITWORTH. The ceremony along with appearances from Rams Cheerleaders and team mascot, Rampage.
"This year has proven to be challenging on so many levels," said 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 was made possible due to the support of sponsors such as: the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, SoCalGas, Bank of Hope, City National Bank, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Oaktree Capital, PwC, Valero Wilmington Refinery and 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 more than $9.7 million to combat homelessness. This year's virtual HomeWalk raised more than $275,000, which was doubled for a total of $550,000 thanks to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation's Match Challenge. Donations are still being accepted and will be matched until December 31, 2020. To donate, please visit 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."
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.
For more information about the Rams' community outreach initiatives, please visit www.therams.com/community.