The scene on the crisp lawn of Clyde Fant Parkway Saturday morning must have been quite different from the one 8,000 miles away that inspired over a thousand Shreveporters to gather.
The annual Walk for Humanity hosted by the Institute for Global Outreach, a Shreveport-based organization, drew some 1,300 people to walk, run and raise money to help 600 or so needy children in the east African country of Ethiopia. IGO’s founder, Velma Kirksey-Tarver, said she’s seen people living without basic utilities on her yearly visits to that country.
Kirksey-Tarver has developed relationships with children in the capital city of Addis Ababa over several years to make sure the money raised goes directly to aid the youngsters, some of whom are so-called “double orphans” from parents who’ve died of AIDS, and some of whom are HIV-positive themselves, she said.
“I feel the reason our turnout is as phenomenal as it is is that we have results,” she said. Donors see updated pictures of the children, who become healthier and more confident with each year of sponsorship, she said. An estimate of funds raised Saturday wasn’t immediately available, she said.
Kirksey-Tarver’s husband, State Sen. Gregory Tarver, who also visits Ethiopia, said the organization has sent two young Ethiopian men to college, with hopes to bring another to study at LSUS.
“You’ve got to pass your blessings on,” he said.
LSUS Chancellor Larry Clark said around 40 LSUS students joined the event, citing the opportunity to “support a good cause.”
Several other familiar faces pledged to walk or run, including Shreveport City Court Judge Pammela Lattier and Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator.
“I’ve seen pictures and some of the trips that they take and how the money actually goes to these kids,” said Prator. “Velma really has a heart for helping these kids. And once you and see them, I’m told, it’s something you can’t ignore.”