By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
About 3,000 people joined in the 36th annual Dare to Care Hunger Walk, a 5k walk and run held along Waterfront Park in downtown Louisville Sept. 15. The walkers and runners helped Dare to Care hit a fundraising record.
“We haven’t finished counting everything from yesterday, but what we do have at this point is just over $123,000,” said Dare to Care’s Stan Siegwald during a telephone interview Sept. 16. “We’re going to raise more money than we’ve ever raised before. We had a great day.”
Siegwald, director of policy and planning for Dare to Care, said he expects the figure to rise as donations trickle in over the next few weeks. Last year, the walk yielded a little more than $105,000, he said.
Among those who helped boost the total was Connor Pavon and about 100 of his classmates from St. Xavier High School. Connor, a St. X senior and a member of St. Albert the Great Church, was the top individual fund raiser for The Hunger Walk this year and last. This year, he raised $1,155, about $330 more than he raised last year.
Trailing just behind him in fund-raising efforts was Chad Kamen, a young member of The Temple, who raised $1,060, according to Siegwald.
He said the efforts of Connor and Chad, in a nutshell, represent what The Hunger Walk is all about: faith communities pitching in to help people in need.
“Dare to Care was formed by faith communities uniting over the issue of hunger,” Siegwald noted. “Our partnership with Interfaith Paths to Peace (co-sponsor of The Hunger Walk) is critical to the success of this event. It’s a great partnership.”
He noted that local schools and businesses have become heavily involved in The Hunger Walk in recent years, but added, “The backbone of the event does remain the faith communities and how they put aside anything that might divide them for The Hunger Walk Sunday.”
Two Catholic churches were the top faith-community fund raisers this year. Church of the Epiphany collected $5,159 and St. Bernadette Church raised $4,286, as of Sept. 16. Siegwald said donations are likely to continue and those numbers may change.
St. Xavier High School raised about $2,000 for the cause — the most of any school, Siegwald said.
In addition to Connor’s individual fund-raising efforts, he and other St. X students collected funds at school last week. They collected more than $2,000 from the school community. Those donations will be split between The Hunger Walk and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Friends of the Poor Walk, set for Oct. 6. On the day of The Hunger Walk, the students collected another $800, said Ben Kresse, a St. X teacher who attended the event.
Connor, who is co-president of the Ryken Service Club at St. X, has been participating in The Hunger Walk since he was a freshman. He has raised $2,730 since he was a sophomore, when he started collecting pledges.
But his desire to help people in need dates to a decade ago, he said, when he helped his father and grandfather distribute donations in a Honduran village.
Connor’s father, Hugo Pavon, is from Honduras.
On trips there to visit family, Connor “has seen poverty and hunger at a level you’d never see here in Louisville. He walked into homes with dirt floors, no electricity, no running water,” said Hugo Pavon during an interview at The Hunger Walk. “There were kids the same age as Connor.”
Connor said that experience “was a catalyst” for his service work.
“I’ve always been interested in service and this (The Hunger Walk) seemed feasible to help with,” he said, a few minutes before the walk began. “And I can get other people involved, too.”