VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WVEC-TV) -- Locals are making a run for The White House -- literally. Hampton Roads fitness expert , Jim White is leading a group of 12 runners who will leave from his fitness studio on West Great Neck Road in Virginia Beach at 6 a.m. and run all the way to Washington.
It's called "White House to White House" and it's Jim's way to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness.
"It's a large issue to address and I think a lot of times homelessness gets scurried under the rug," Jim said. "And we're trying to bring a lot of attention. We have over 500 homeless people in Virginia Beach alone and a lot of them are suffering."
Michael Lowder used to be one of them.
"Given where I was two years ago, being on the streets, people develop a blind eye to it," Michael said. "You kind of get used to being ignored or people looking the other way when people come across you."
Jim isn't Looking the other way.
Throughout the year, Jim trains area homeless people in his LIFT strength and nutrition program. LIFT stands for Lifting spirits, Improving bodies, Feeding souls, and Transforming lives. Jim believes physical fitness will help their mental fitness and empower and motivate the homeless to want to improve their situation in life.
"By getting them in shape, I think we've all been there," Jim said. "It gives us a lot more energy, confidence, gives us strength and with that it helps to give them that confidence to go get that job, to go get that housing.
That's exactly what Michael did thanks to the support and encouragement he received from Jim and his LIFT program. And now, Michael wants to pay it forward by running 210 miles to Washington and helping to raise money for LIFT, hoping that the program can continue to help people who are currently where Michael was not long ago.
Last year's "White House to White House" run raised $20,000 for the LIFT program thanks to corporate and private donations and sponsorships. There are several fundraisers at area restaurants before this year's run. They are at:
Baker's Crust (Hilltop and Greenbrier locations only): Wednesday, Oct. 26, 5-9 p.m.
Bold Mariner Brewery in Norfolk: November 4th, 4-9 p.m.
Your Pie: (Hilltop, Virginia Beach) November 11th, 5-8 p.m.
Donations can also be made at www.crowdrise.com/WH2WH.