Ralph Figueroa performs during the No More Homeless Veterans in America comedy benefit at Whittier s Fiesta Hall on Thursday. (Leo Jarzomb / Staff Photographer)
WHITTIER Area veterans and supporters relied on laughs to get cash at the Vet Hunters Project's first "No More Homeless Veterans in America" comedy benefit at Fiesta Hall on Thursday night.
Nearly 600 people united to show their support and raise money for the Vet Hunters' bicycle ride fundraiser, which will leave The Salvation Army shelter in Bell on Wednesday.
With the support of England's royal couple, the firstever, 18day Ride Against Homelessness cheap ugg boots will include visits to homeless shelters, veterans' hospitals and burn centers to meet with "homeless heroes and wounded warriors."
One hundred percent of the money collected will go toward paying for homeless shelters specifically for veterans.
Manny Maldonado, Lahna Turner, Richard Villa, Joey Medina and Aurelio Miguel Bocanegra took the stage during the twohour event.
"The word homeless and veteran should never be in the same sentence," said Joel Leal, Army veteran and founder of Vet Hunters Project.
Leal served in the 101st Airborne Division and real ugg boots was wounded during combat in Iraq.
"I've performed for troops overseas three times and I've seen what they go through and they're the reason I'm allowed to get up on stage and say what's on my mind," Villa said.
Veteran and comedian Bocanegra served in the military for four years prior to 9/11.
"After 9/11 occurred, I became a volunteer for the Reserves. Anytime I can give back and raise awareness, I will," he said.
Among those in attendance was Bob Archuleta, Pico Rivera councilman, member of the Los Angeles County Commission of Military Veterans' Affairs and Army veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division.
"I'm honored to be here to represent veterans and recognize the issues regarding homeless veterans throughout the nation," Archuleta said.
"We need to welcome home our veterans and provide them with shelter, medical facilities, counseling and recognition of their service to our country," he said.
The Vet Hunters Project was created as a result of a national call to end homelessness, especially among veterans.
According to the project's website, "Current population estimates suggest that about 131,000 veterans, male and female, are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year."