The 14th annual Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk surpassed its fundraising goal of $3 million. The star-studded event drew thousands of walkers to the Manhattan Beach Pier on Sunday - with a record total of 19,000 walkers this year.
The Manhattan-to-Hermosa walk along the Strand raises money for local schools, the Friendship Foundation for youth with varying abilities, and the Skechers Foundation's national scholarship program. The event, led by headline sponsor Kinecta Federal Credit Union, featured live performances, athletic icons, games and activities, and spirited teams of walkers, all of whom received a medal at the end.
Skechers President Michael Greenberg with Sugar Ray Leonard
"We have created the largest walk of its type in the nation, and that's because of each and every one of you and all your support," Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers and founder of the walk, told the crowd.
In its first year, the walk drew 1200 walkers and raised $220,000, said Greenberg. This year, the walk had more than 15,000 participants and raised more than $3 million, reaching a total of more than $21 million since the walk's inception.
"I really want to bow down to everybody that makes this possible - it takes a community," said Greenberg. "I hope other communities learn from what we do in eradicating separation between children with special needs and mainstream children. I think our children today with special needs have more friends than most of us, so that's a blessing."
Greenberg also cited one of the biggest accomplishments of the year for the Friendship Foundation, one of the primary beneficiaries of the walk. In August, the Friendship Foundation broke ground on the Greenberg Family/Skechers Center
, a 3.25-acre campus, featuring a state-of-the-art, 64,000-square-foot
facility that will offer a full
range of post-secondary training for intellectually and physically
Greenberg said such a facility was a "dream" expressed to him by Rabbi Yossi Mintz, Friendship Foundation co-founder, nearly 30 years ago - and now that dream is becoming a reality.
"That dream - whoever tells you it's not possible - that's all BS. We can do it - we did it," said Greenberg.
Manhattan Beach Welcomes Thousands
Manhattan Beach Mayor Steve Napolitano welcomed the crowd and thanked Skechers for creating "the greatest walk in the nation."
Manhattan Beach Mayor Steve Napolitano with Councilmembers Hildy Stern, Joe Franklin, and Mayor Pro Tem Richard Montgomery
"This is about community, this is about everybody wins," Napolitano said. "When our kids win, we all win."
Represented at the walk were teams from El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, and Palos Verdes.
Celebrities on hand included Brooke Burke, Sugar Ray Leonard, Amanda Kloots, Dani Bowman, and America's Got Talent golden buzzer winner Madison Taylor Baez.
Singing the national anthem (and accompanying herself on ukulele) was local Manhattan Beach elementary school student Dylan Purdy.
Manhattan Beach elementary school student Dylan Purdy performs the national anthem
Fans could participate in meet-and-greets with a variety of young YouTube and Disney network stars. Other familiar characters on hand included Cosmo & Wanda, LA Kings mascot Bailey, Blue from Blue's Clues, and Spongebob.
LA Kings' Bailey makes an appearance
Mira Costa drumline members kept the beat for walkers along the Strand, while Mira Costa cheerleaders lined the finish line to hand out medals.
New for this year was a "sensory inclusive" tent for those with sensory sensitivities, provided by Kulture City and sponsored by the RK Bhatia Foundation. Those who spent time in the tent also had access to a sensory bag that included noise-canceling headphones and other sensory aids.
About the Skechers Friendship Walk
The Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk rallies thousands every
October for a fun-filled celebration at the beach, where families and
friends gather to walk from Manhattan Beach Pier to Hermosa Beach Pier
and back in support of children. Since 2009, the event has raised
millions of dollars to support the Friendship Foundation and public
education through local education foundations.
The Friendship Foundation assists children with disabilities and
their families through one-on-one peer mentoring and social recreational
activities such as summer camps, outings, sporting events, and a
variety of classes that include music, yoga, cooking, art, and drama.
The Walk also funds the Skechers Foundation’s annual
national scholarship program, which donated more than 50 scholarships to
deserving students across the country in 2022.
Co-produced by the Skechers Foundation and the Friendship Foundation,
the Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk is supported by presenting
sponsor Kinecta Federal Credit Union, local and national media outlets,
dozens of dedicated corporations, and citizens throughout the