A crowd of thousands is set to make its way through downtown Atlanta Sunday — rallying around this year’s mantra “Take the next step.”
“I think the essence of the Hunger Walk/Run is the tremendous community support that continues to grow,” said Bill Bolling, founder and executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, one of the event’s beneficiaries. “Our goal has been to bring the diversity of the community together — faith, business, government, university, schools, partner agencies — to celebrate common values and commitment to fight hunger and build and strengthen community.”
The food bank has helped organize the event every year since its advent in 1984 — then merely a grassroots initiative created in response to domestic and international hunger issues.
The event’s steady growth in both size and scope has been nothing short of remarkable, organizers said.
“Most importantly, we have grown in a way that has allowed us to sustain the walk for 30 years,” said Bolling. “It is quite unusual in today’s world that an organization can sustain a special event year after year.
“We have continued to raise more money, which in turn, is shared with our community partners to fight hunger throughout North Georgia.”
The race also benefits five other nonprofits: the Episcopal Charities Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Lutheran Services of Georgia, the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and the St. Vincent De Paul Society.
Organizers and staffers expect to welcome about 15,000 people of all ages and backgrounds to Turner Field’s Green Lot east of downtown Atlanta. The gates there will open at noon.
A full slate of activities — sights, sounds and tastes — is on the pre-race agenda. Participants will head out on the walk/run route at 2 p.m.
“Last year we raised over $600,000 and hope to raise even more this year in honor of the 30th anniversary of this wonderful community event,” said Bolling.
Local churches have played a big hand in the success of the event, dispatching teams to contribute to each annual outing.
“It’s just a great thing to see … all these people walking down Piedmont [Road], so many people banding together for the cause,” said Nicole Schimmel, captain of the team from Cathedral of Christ the King in Buckhead.
IF YOU GO:
o What: Hunger Walk/Run
o Where: Turner Field Green Lot
o When: Sunday, March 9 (gates open at noon)
o Tickets: $35 for runners; $25 for walkers
o Information: (404) 419-1723 or email email@example.com