This year the Concrete Hero 2013 Urban Obstacle Challenge will be held at Los Angeles State Historic Park and will feature several new L.A.-themed obstacles and an extended five-mile route through the streets and alleyways of downtown. Last year, nearly 1,000 participants raised over $400K in just three months for AIDS Project Los Angeles.
With over 30 years of service, APLA is a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national, and global reach. In the United States, APLA is the largest nonprofit AIDS service organization.
"We're gearing up for an entirely new Concrete Hero Urban Obstacle Challenge and are thrilled to announce some of the new aspects of this year's event," said Craig E. Thompson, executive director at APLA.
"Given the overwhelming popularity of last year's event, we've kept and enhanced some of the iconic and thrilling L.A.-themed obstacles like 'The Hollywood Sign Climb,' 'Carmageddon,' and 'Tar-Pit Traverse.'" In addition, we've added several more obstacles and surprises over a longer, five-mile route through downtown Los Angeles, which starts and finishes at Los Angeles State Historic Park," Thompson added.
Funds raised through Concrete Hero are put to use immediately by APLA and support vital care programs such as the Vance North Necessities of Life Program food pantries, which distribute more than 160,000 bags of groceries to people facing HIV/AIDS and hunger in Los Angeles or APLA Dental Services, which offers more than 21,000 no-cost and low-cost, life-restoring dental procedures to people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County.
Thompson said there are over 60,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles county, and infection rates amongst youth are on the rise.
"Though many of those locally who live with HIV/AIDS have access to life-sustaining medical treatments, they simply cannot afford essentials like food, safe housing, dental care, and much more. With those basic needs unmet, too many struggle to manage the burdens of daily living, let alone the complications of managing a chronic and still-deadly disease like HIV. In addition, many youth today view HIV as a problem of the past. But in fact, infection rates among youth are on the rise, so funds raised through Concrete Hero will support prevention and education programs across Los Angeles County that target those at greatest risk, including youth along with men and women of color," Thompson added.
"For events like Concrete Hero which are new and not yet well known, we rely significantly on community champions to help mobilize registrations and drive awareness of the event across various networks of their friends, families and colleagues. Word-of-mouth is invaluable for us, especially when marketing and media dollars are limited," Thompson says.
In 2012, event organizers approached Los Angeles residents and community activists, Fred Arens & Jason Duguay to help drive participation and fundraising for the event. Their team, "Kick A$$" had 58 participants who raised over $49,000 for the first annual event.
"When the event organizers approached us about being Concrete Hero Community Chairs and suggested we form a team for the event, we absolutely jumped at the opportunity," said Fred Arens.
"In 2002, my long-time, best friend Kevin told me in confidence that he had AIDS. Kevin called me from his bedside during his final hours as he died of pneumonia; it's a day and a conversation I will never forget. Today, my partner Jason and I are passionate about raising money for AIDS-related initiatives because for us, it's personal. We've completed various walks, dances, rides, and marathons over the years in support of APLA but never anything like this. Concrete Hero has mass appeal and is unlike anything that exists in fundraising. We're determined to recruit more people and raise more money than we did last year, so APLA can then help improve more lives of those living right here in LA with HIV/AIDS," Arens added.
"The energy that resonates from each email exchange, team meeting, Facebook post is just awesome. Our goal is to raise as much money as possible, but more importantly to bring attention to this ground-breaking event which we want to see continue not only in LA, but around the country," Duguay said.
"We want to personally invite everyone to join team Kick A$$ for the second annual Concrete Hero! We encourage everyone to talk with friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues, and encourage them to register today! Visit www.concretehero.org or call 323-462-HERO (4376) to register or donate," said Duguay.
Follow Jason Mannino on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jasonmannino