UT students Nick Salameh and Nick Villareal will be running 15 miles per day for five days straight from May 27-31 to raise money for the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. During this time, they will also be sleeping on the streets of downtown Austin to better understand homelessness.
“The homeless population is one of the most forgotten communities that really go through extreme hardship,” neuroscience junior Villareal said. “(It’s) something that a lot of us don’t really understand, because many of us don’t become homeless in our lives.”
The money raised from the program, Run Home for the ARCH, will be used to provide basic hygiene products to the homeless population.
“We went (to the organization) and talked to the coordinators and realized that a lot of these people that were homeless actually have jobs,” finance junior Salameh said. “Now they’re just trying to save up money to get back on their feet. They don’t have a lot of money for … any kind of hygienic products.”
Salameh and Villareal have contacted businesses and individuals for sponsorships, offering advertising during the run and on social media in return.
“What (the sponsorship) does is it shows this company’s commitment to Austin as a community,” Salameh said. “It also helps them out by getting advertisers … but also helps us out and homeless people by giving them that funding.”
Forest Family Dentistry is one of Salameh’s sponsors.
“Forest Family Dentistry believes in what (Salameh) is doing, and more importantly, who he is,” said Robin Bethell, a dentist at Forest Family Dentistry. “The personal sacrifice to raise awareness for homelessness in Austin is the brand of service and kindness that makes change in our wonderful city.”
So far, Salameh and Villareal have raised $1,926 of their $2,500 goal, according to the program’s GoFundMe page.
“We are going to fundraise until we run, and then we’re going to make this small documentary to kind of show awareness and get others inspired to do this,” Salameh said.
Both Salameh and Villareal hope to continue the program again next year and recruit even more runners.
“I think there’s a lot of meaning in helping the people who need it the most,” Villareal said. “They still need help. They’re still human beings.”