About 65,000 walkers joined tennis star Serena Williams on a three-mile tour of the national monuments to help the homeless Saturday.
The 14th annual Help the Homeless Walk raised $6 million for local homeless and at-risk families. The event raised $5.5 million last year.
Williams, honorary chair of the walk, is a past Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion.
Hundreds of GW students swam in a sea of red “Help the Homeless” shirts at the walk, a 14-year-old student tradition. Employees of nearly 300 local corporations, youth from around the region, college students and volunteers from the Fannie Mae Foundation, a non-profit organization that creates affordable housing for low-income families, also walked. Fannie Mae has organized the walk since 1988.
Walkers traveled past the National Gallery of Art, the Capitol building and other museums and returned to the Mall for music and speakers.
“This walk is an invaluable experience that I feel everyone should take part (in),” freshman Chris Moulton said. “I will continue my dedication to this event for the remainder of my college career.”
Joel Cook, Undergraduate Dean of School of Business and Public Management, helped organize a group of students who participated in the walk for the service project SBPM freshmen complete every year.
“Since November is a month of thanks and community, I feel that the
Homeless Walk is the students’ opportunity to give back to the citizens of the District of Columbia,” Cook said.
The event raised about the same amount of money as last year.
“With all the problems that the world has been facing lately, it is refreshing to see that the city is focusing on issues close to home,” freshman Abby Schell said.
Approximately one-fifth of D.C. residents and 44 percent of children in the District under less than six years, double the national figure, live in poverty, according to Fannie Mae literature.
The walk’s earnings will benefit more than 200 non -profit organizations that work with homeless families and individuals in the Washington area, who will receive grant checks at an annual celebration on Capitol Hill in February.
Walkers said the event is not only important to the homeless population of D.C. but also builds community for District residents.
“When the entire city comes out and stands up for one common belief, it truly creates a sense of unity, a sense of unity that is so important during recent events,” D.C. resident Larry Green said.