Dare to Care holds annual candlelight vigil in honor of Bobby Ellis

Dare to Care holds annual candlelight vigil in honor of Bobby Ellis
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:21 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Dare to Care Food Bank and Interfaith Paths to Peace held their annual candlelight vigil Sunday to honor the life of 9-year-old Bobby Ellis.

On Thanksgiving Eve, 1969, Bobby passed away in his home due to malnutrition. Fifty-four years later, his death still reminds the Louisville community of an important message.

“We think this happens in other places in the world, but it didn’t,” said Jud Hendrix, the executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace. “It happened in our community, not too long ago. So this event brings us together to remind us, to wake us up to the reality, that our neighbors don’t have what they need to thrive.”

Bobby’s death sparked a movement to combat food insecurity and led to the creation of Dare to Care Food Bank. Today, Dare to Care partners with food pantries, shelters and emergency kitchens to distribute food to the community. Last year, the food bank helped to provide 19.6 million meals along with its partners.

“He would be 63 years old today, but he now missed 54 years of opportunity to contribute to the community,” said Dare to Care CEO Vincent James. “We never want to see that happen again.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17 million U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2022.

That’s why the event encourages community members to check on their neighbors.

“We have to know our neighbors, and we have to be concerned about what’s going on in their lives,” Hendrix said. “So the call tonight was to reach out to your neighbor, know what’s going on, and then respond once you’re able to do that.”

James says every year the event draws a larger crowd, bringing together people of all different backgrounds. He recalled a conversation with Bobby’s sister, Nicole Ellis, who attended Sunday’s vigil.

“After last year’s event, she said you know you called me right after the event just to see how I was doing. If somebody would have called me when Bobby was living, Bobby would still be here today,” James said.

To learn more about Dare to Care and how you can support their mission, click here.