Part of my responsibilities as Director of Community Relations is to oversee our Official Charity Program. There are 65 charities that are participating in the 2011 Honda LA Marathon. The Program provides opportunities to locally-based charities and chapters to use the Honda LA Marathon as a platform to raise funds that benefit and positively impact the people in our community.
Fundraising is not always easy, and sometimes you don’t hit your financial goals. But these charities do more than raise money. These charitable institutions make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate, they inspire, educate and increase awareness of how we can all participate in improving the people in our neighborhoods.
Today I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Ruben Hernandez, the Founder and President of Unification of Disabled Latin Americans:
Ginger: Ruben can you help us understand what UDLA is?
Ruben: I founded UDLA (Unification of Disabled Latin Americans) in 1974 to improve the quality of life of disabled individuals and help them to recover their self-esteem which in turn can help them to return as productive members of our society.
Ginger: When do you start UDLA?
Ruben: I came to the USA at age 20, and three years later a tragedy struck my life and changed it forever. At age 23 I lost my sight due to a gun shot on my head, This tragic event became a blessing to me and eventually others. Because of the shooting and injury I founded UDLA, which has been extremely instrumental in the rehabilitation of hundreds of disabled individuals and their families.
When I founded UDLA I was unaware that I was going to be the first recipient of its services and programs. I am who I am today thanks to the opportunities that UDLA has given to me in so many ways of my life. My blindness forced me to utilize the entire potential God has given to me, This experience helped me understand the world of the disabled and the things I need to change in order to help them.
My blindness encouraged me to go back to school to achieve an education and to prepare myself for the future. My blindness gave the opportunity to become an advocate for the disabled and it is a great friend and motivator to achieve my goals.
Ginger: How long has UDLA been an Official Charity, and has your fundraising been successful using the marathon as your fundraising platform?
Ruben: We have been part of the Honda Los Angeles Marathon for 20 years, and have raised $250,000 to help those in our community.
Ginger: What has been the best method for UDLA to fundraise?
Ruben: Our most successful method has been to engage our friends, families, volunteers and charity team members who run on behalf of our center. These folks know the philosophy, purpose and mission statement of UDLA. They are our biggest tool for fundraising because they are a part of the family of UDLA. The doors of UDLA are always open to anyone that would like to become a volunteer, or someone who needs services. For 36 years we have provided free services for the disabled and their families and organized events beneficially for the whole community.
For more information about Ruben and UDLA, please click here http://www.udlaus.org/