LANCASTER — Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission kicked off its Rally to the Valley, a 125-mile ultra marathon fundraiser to raise $200,000 to end homelessness, on Friday in front of the nonprofit organization’s Lancaster thrift store.
The Pacoima-based nonprofit faith-based organization’s mission is to prevent, reduce and eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness by offering immediate assistance and long-term solutions.
“We’re going to start a 125-mile journey,” Hope of the Valley CEO Ken Craft announced at a press conference.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris helped launch the marathon.
“This really is hope, and hope means we’re transitioning into a better place,” Parris said. “I think that’s what this group is all about.”
The journey, on foot and bicycle, started at the Lancaster thrift store, at 1226 Commerce Center Drive, and continued on to Hope of the Valley’s Palmdale thrift store at 533 East Palmdale Blvd.
The full marathon will take place over nine days, stopping by each of the organization’s locations from the Antelope Valley to the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys. The marathon will conclude at Hope of the Valley’s Simi Valley thrift store on March 27.
“We’re going to visit all 19 of our sites; we’re going to encourage everyone that’s in our shelters,” Craft said. “We are going to raise money, as this year alone we’re going to add 600 new beds to our facilities.”
Craft introduced Pastor Billy Nettles, outreach pastor for the Highlands Christian Fellowship church in Palmdale, as Hope of the Valley’s Antelope Valley area director.
“I just want to say how important it is for us to take advantage of this opportunity that we have to address homelessness, hunger and that of those who are impoverished in the Antelope Valley,” Nettles said.
Nettles said they want to not only provide shelter for the unhoused, but also provide case managers and assess the circumstances that contribute to it.
“Many of these people are in this condition because of substance abuse, spousal abuse, or because of economic circumstances. We know that a lot of them have health issues,” Nettles said, adding they want to be focused in their effort.
Highlands lead pastor Jeremy Mayol presented Craft with a $20,000 check, money raised by the church.
WingStop owner Steve Tucker also presented Craft with a $20,000 check.
“Any money that’s given up here, stays up here,” Craft said.
Hal Tabibzada and Shawn Helmandi, CEO and president, respectively, of Good Guard Security Inc. joined the marathon.
“If there is one organization that will end homelessness it is Hope of the Valley,” Tabibzada said.
Craft announced that Good Guard also donated $20,000 toward the effort.
Theresa Jackson, chairwoman of Hope of the Valley’s Board of directors, presented Craft with a check for $1,250, or $10 per mile.
“We support this organization,” Jackson said. “Thank you so much for doing this; it’s just amazing that you are putting your health on the line for homelessness.”