Twelve people will begin a 240-mile journey on foot from Virginia Beach to the White House at 6 a.m. Sunday to raise money and awareness for the homeless.
Jim White, the founder of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios and the Jim White Community Fitness Foundation, came up with the idea of “White House 2 White House” because he believed the issue of homelessness doesn’t get enough attention.
“Homelessness gets skirted around and pushed under the carpet,” White said.
The twelve will relay to the White House, switching off every five miles. and traveling with two motor homes. White estimates each person will run about 20.5 miles.
White charted their route so that they will stop at five homeless shelters along the way, dropping off bags of toiletries along the way. They plan to end the relay at Central Union Mission Shelter in Washington and join residents there and other members of Back on My Feet, a national organization that focuses on helping the homeless through running, and continue to the White House.
Each of the runners was also expected to fundraise, with a team goal of $20,000 for White’s Foundation. White said his participants have done everything from host beer tastings to shopping events. The money is going to his LIFT program, which stands for Lifting Spirits, Improving Bodies, Feeding Souls and Transforming Lives, a 90-day program to help the homeless and those in need.
White said the goal of LIFT is to work on people from the inside out. The first month of the program is dedicated to helping people rediscover exercise. They are given pedometers and take part in fitness-related activities. The second month is nutrition-oriented, where they teach people how to shop and eat healthy on a budget. The last 30 days are help participants on skills like interviewing and resume-writing to help them apply for jobs.
White said many who are homeless are also overweight because of their diet of cheaper, fast-food meals. His program is designed to help them find nutritious foods that can help them feel better mentally and physically. White said LIFT partners with other organizations, such as the Salvation Army and local homeless shelters, to address housing.
So far, the group has raised about $18,000. White said the money will be used to expand the LIFT program to help more people and extend their reach into Norfolk.
On Sunday, they will kick off their relay with a celebration at White’s Great Neck studio at 2861 Lynnhaven Dr. around 5 a.m.