Wednesday, Jun 28, 2017
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Tent City project adds 1-mile walk

1Matters Tent City, an annual three-day relationship-builder between Toledo's haves and have-nots, is set for Oct. 29 through Oct. 31.

Formerly known as the Homeless Awareness Project Tent City, the event will once again bring dozens of volunteers together with area homeless in Civic Mall, which lies in the shadow of Toledo police headquarters.

Donated clothing, food, and supplies will be distributed to people who live on the streets, as will free medical and dental care.

Some of the area's top musicians will provide free entertainment.

New this year will be a one-mile march called 1Mile Matters on Oct. 30.

Participants are asked to gather at Promenade Park about 10 a.m. for an 11 a.m. starting time. The walk will zig-zag through downtown - a metaphor, according to Tent City founder Ken Leslie, for the fact that life itself has a fair number of twists and turns - before ending up at the Tent City site for lunch.

"Each year, Tent City lets everyone know that everybody matters," said Mr. Leslie, who was inspired to create his 1Matters.org group after singer John Mellencamp made an impromptu visit to Tent City on Nov. 2, 2007, shortly before he gave a concert at the SeaGate Centre that night.

The singer instructed his crew to give away 70 concert tickets to homeless people.

During the show, Mellencamp stopped and told people how everyone matters.

Last year, more than $75,000 in supplies and services were given away.

At least one man's life may have been saved because of the community's generosity.

Steve North, operator of the Lifeline Toledo Mobile Health Education Unit, said that man was diagnosed with prostate cancer after showing signs of it during one of the many free medical examinations.

The man, who was unemployed and a resident of the Cherry Street Mission at the time, was identified by Mr. North at a news conference Friday as David Smith.

Mr. Smith is one of the recent success stories of Tent City. Over the past year, Mr. Smith - who was not at the news conference - was hired at a new job, secured his own housing, and underwent successful cancer treatment, Mr. North said.

Dan Rogers, Cherry Street's president and chief executive officer, said Tent City "always gives the community a chance to connect."

"Tent City is a true peoples' awareness project," Mr. Rogers said.

Major sponsors include the mission, NHA Mildred Bayer Clinic, Mercy Health Partners, and Toledo Area Ministries.

Donated clothing can be dropped off at many city and suburban fire stations.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.

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