LOS ANGELES, Calif. — For the past two years Arnel Aguilar has used jogging not to run away from, but through the pain of losing his wife, Gail, in a car accident.
Eventually, his personal sorrow gave way to the equally sobering realization of the staggering needs of those living along his jogging route. His mobile therapy became prayer running.
On May 5, Aguilar is hoping others will join in the cause as he helps to launch Pray for LA, a ministry administered by Life Connections International.
"As he ran to conquer his own grief, he became aware of the host of other grieving, lost and lonely people in the city," an event news release said. "He started to pray for these strangers as he ran."
The inaugural prayer run begins at Hansen Dam Recreational Center in Lake View Terrace.
"The purpose of the event is to encourage people to pray for the city of Los Angeles and its residents, and continue at a local level the momentum begun on the National Day of Prayer, May 3," an event news release said.
Aguilar is hoping others will receive the same healing through the 5K as he did in his personal runs.
"As he began to heal, he considered how his idea of 'prayer running' could help others rise above their seemingly hopeless circumstances," the release said.
Aguilar brought his idea for the 5K run to Tyler Lennon, founder of Life Connections International, which runs the Pray for LA site. Life Connections is a nonprofit ministry that supports the work of churches and para-church organizations worldwide by facilitating global short-term volunteer work and connecting ministry partnerships among individuals, churches and organizations.
Lennon welcomed the idea as a chance to introduce more people to the concept of regularly praying for the city and its people. Aguilar and Lennon formed a committee and the 5K was launched.
Organizers are urging participants to "raise prayer requests" instead of the typical fundraising for similar events. Participants will then pray for those specific needs as they run or walk the course surrounding the lake.
In addition to promoting prayer, the committee hopes the event will raise money for the Union Rescue Mission. A collection of canned goods and wearable work clothing is planned at the race site on the day of the event.
The entry fee is $40, with $15 from each entry benefiting the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. and the race will start at 8 a.m. At 9:30 a.m., children 12 and under will run a 1K course. The cost for children is $25, with $15 going to the mission. Organizers are seeking church and corporate sponsors for the race.
For more information about the Pray for LA 5K, log on to prayforla.org.