The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio’s Walk, Rock, Roll and Run event this year raised $267,769 to support the organization’s school and youth programs. 2022 marked the 20th anniversary of the annual diversity and inclusion event, as well as a return to an in-person celebration at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the first since COVID-19 hit.
The fundraiser featured two competitions: the individual who raised the most money and the company that raised the most money.
Azadeh Hardiman, the top individual prize winner, raised $1,500 and was awarded six tickets for a private tour of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the opportunity to play her favorite song over the museum’s PA system. FirstEnergy, the electric services company, won the traveling workplace trophy, raising $13,470.
Hardiman says the Diversity Center is creating an important atmosphere in Cleveland schools.
“I’m a woman; I’m mixed-race and I’m an immigrant. … I never felt like I had a place where I had the space to have discussions about what I was going through,” Hardiman says. “The Diversity Center provides a really important space where all people, regardless of how they identify, can really feel valued, welcomed and be able to have positive conversations and sometimes difficult and challenging conversations so we can all learn from each other. That’s why I walk.”
Peggy Zone Fisher, president and CEO of the Diversity Center, shares the sentiment that schools should be inclusive spaces.
“Schools today are dealing with a lot of outside criticism. … Many schools are hearing outside voices saying we should not have diversity programs, that it’s not important, that we should be focusing on other things,” says Fisher. “We’re living in a time that’s extremely challenging, and I keep thinking that if we don’t keep doing this work, the people who will be losing out will be our children.”
Fisher was happy with the attendance of the first Walk, Rock, Roll and Run since the pandemic. “Together, we raised an amazing amount of dollars. The community just all came together,” Fisher says.