Dare to Care, local faith leaders gather to remember the life of Bobby Ellis

By Cory McCauley, Building Kentucky

Dare to Care, local faith leaders and community members gathered Sunday for a candlelight vigil to remember the life of Bobby Ellis. On Thanksgiving Eve in 1969, nine-year-old Bobby Ellis died of malnutrition in his Louisville home. In the days and months that followed, the Greater Louisville community joined together to make sure what happened to Ellis would never happen again. Out of this movement, Dare to Care Food Bank was created.

“Bobby’s memory will never be forgotten and his legacy has inspired change throughout our community,” said Vincent James, CEO of Dare to Care Food Bank. “This is a time for us to come together to remember, reflect and renew our efforts to eradicate hunger from our community.”

For more than a decade, Interfaith Paths to Peace and Dare to Care have partnered for this annual event. Approximately 100 people gathered at Byck Elementary School, where Ellis was a third-grade student, reminding individuals that this issue is still present in our community today more than 50 years later. 

“This vigil is a reminder of why we continue to stand united in our fight to end hunger,” said Jud Hendrix, Executive Director of Interfaith Paths to Peace. “Many in our communities are facing hunger and we must remember Bobby to ensure this is something we never see happen again.”

Attendees, including members of Ellis’ family, remembered his life through music, lighting candles and observing a moment of silence. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer spoke at the annual event, calling on the crowd to care for their neighbors.

“Louisville is a compassionate city and there are many in our community who need our help,” said Fischer. “We must work together to support community-based initiatives that address hunger to ensure no other person dies from malnutrition.”

Kentucky has the eighth highest rate of food insecurity in the nation. 71 of Kentucky’s 120 counties have a child-food insecurity rate of 20 percent or higher. In Jefferson County, more than 16 percent of the population under the age of 18 years old experience food insecurity. With the help of nearly 300 partner agencies, Dare to Care remains a vital resource for those in need in the Kentuckiana community.

“One in eight Kentuckians and one in six Kentucky children are hungry today. These folks might be your neighbors, your coworkers or your child’s classmates,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “As a dad, and as Governor, I will not sit back and accept those statistics. That’s why we’re committed to making high-quality, nutritious food accessible for all families, alongside trusted community partners like Dare to Care.”

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