Updated:ATLANTA, Ga. —
An Atlanta man and a handful of demonstrators are making thousands of strides to help the homeless.
A middle school student, along with a man who Love Beyond Walls founder Terence Lester befriended while sleeping under a bridge, help make up the group of eight people walking down Bankhead Highway in northwest Atlanta.
The 30-mile trek started around 4 a.m. at the Crossroads Church in Douglasville, where Lester slept in a tent in the parking lot. About two hours later the group had made 34,000 steps for the homeless.
Channel 2 Action News caught up with Lester, who talked about the eye-opening experience that sparked his motivation to hold Saturday's initiative.
"My body is tired. My legs feel like noodles, but I'm in good spirits," said Lester, founder of the Love Beyond Walls project, which aims to be a voice for Atlanta's homeless.
Lester doesn't mind being tired, emphasizing his mission to get people off the streets is an issue worth fighting for.
"Around Christmas time I actually made myself homeless for 72 hours. I lived under a bridge in the heart of downtown Atlanta," said Lester. "While staying among the homeless, I found out walking was something homeless people had to do often. We walked to shower, walked to find food. Then it dawned on me that water and food is comparable to a homeless person. If you don't walk, you don't live."
Lester hopes Saturday's demonstration will show the public that it takes a lot to survive.
"You have a lot of social pressures against you (as a homeless person), and I just want to raise awareness about the epidemic in this city and hopefully galvanize people to collaborate with us on this issue," Lester said.
Once the group reaches the finish line, southwest Atlanta's historic Paschal's restaurant on Northside Drive, volunteers will assist with collecting new and gently used sneakers that will be distributed to the homeless.
Click here to find out more about Love Beyond Walls.