LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles County has been described as the "homeless capital" of the nation with close to 60,000 people living without homes, according to the United Way.
But on Saturday, a record crowd of more than 13,000 people took a stand against homelessness.
They joined Los Angeles Lakers all-star guard Kobe Bryant during the 7th annual United Way HomeWalk in Exposition Park.
The five-kilometer run and walk got underway at 9 a.m. with Bryant serving as honorary chairman for the third year in a row.
"I'm sure everybody here is not a Laker fan," said Bryant while addressing the crowd.
He continued, "I see some Clipper shirts and I'm sure there's a Boston Celtics fan somewhere. But the most important thing -- the thing that unites all of us -- is that we can inspire and challenge each other to be better and do something great for each other."
Christine Marge, the director of housing & financial stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that organizers hoped to raise $1 million from the day's event.
Raw Audio: Christine Marge On HomeWalk
"All those funds will go right back out into the community to house over 1,000 people who are sleeping on our streets who will soon be moved into permanent housing," she said.
Marge attributed the record number of participants to "more and more people realizing homelessness is not only a crisis, but it's a solvable crisis."
"People are eager to be involved and be part of the solution. We're just thrilled that there are 13,000 people out here who want to be part of the solution," she said. "What we know is that a lot of these people won't just be out here today. They're going to be engaged throughout the year in solutions throughout Los Angeles County."
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