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MLK Day celebration honors hit-and-run victim who’s still giving back

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A community event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day featured just about everything one might expect to see at a large Madison charity event: There was Chef Dave Heide donating 2,500 hot meals, a truck full of Stella's spicy cheese bread, and it was all at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County.

It might have been easy to miss Lamara Howard in the line of volunteers handing out items. Bundled up in a coat with the hood covering her head, Howard helped hand out essentials in a drive-up line.

Just one month earlier, Howard was in the hospital, suffering from injuries she suffered when a driver hit the girl as she was walking. The driver fled the scene but was later arrested.

Howard's mother, Monica, said the tipping point for Lamara was when the group, Feeding The Youth, donated $200 toward the girl's recovery.

"When I told Lamara about it, she said 'mom, that's too much. I want to give back to the homeless and I really want to feed the homeless,'" Monica Howard said.

To honor Lamara's wishes, the event -- which also featured help from the Overture Center for the Arts, Greater Madison Resource Center, and the Black Men Coalition of Dane County -- also included a collection of coats, hats, and gloves.

"We're coming together as Martin Luther King would have wanted," said Erica Odeneal, the Community Resources Liaison for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. "You can see, it's different races here, everybody here, we're coming together for one common purpose, and that's to serve our community."

Throughout the day, cars came by occasionally to pick up items. Those on foot came through to collect a hot meal, along with essential groceries, as well as warm clothing.

A large screen set up in the parking lot looped footage from some of King's most famous speeches, including his 1963 'I Have a Dream' address in Washington, D.C.

"It started with a little girl and she said 'I have a dream,'" said Monica Howard. "And it just shows when you have a dream, just like Dr. King and a community comes together, it shows the unity."

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A. J. Bayatpour

Reporter, WKOW 27

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