Unite to Light (UTL) will host You Light the Night, its first virtual global 5K for light, Sept. 18-28, in a campaign designed to help people stay active and engaged during this time of uncertainty, while increasing awareness of the 1 billion people living without electricity worldwide.

For these people, sheltering at home during the pandemic has added hardship. Students from Mexico to Malawi have trouble keeping up with assignments in dark huts. Midwives are often the only trained medical providers in a community and are now doing double duty training people on how to wash hands, wear face coverings and maintain social distance.

Neighbors experiencing homelessness have been cut off from services and are fearful of going to shelters.

The You Light the Night Virtual 5k is a way for people to give back, while staying connected to their community. Over a 10-day period, people are invited to walk, run, hike, roll, bike, paddle or swim 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in the location of their choosing.

Participants register via UTL’s website and sign up as an individual or as part of a team. Teams can support specific projects of their choosing. To register, there is a requested donation of $10, but there is no minimum fundraising commitment.

Participants will receive a downloadable sign to show their support, as well as a solar Luke Light for those who raise $50 or more, and a solar charger for those who raise $150 or more.

For more details on registration and participation, visit the UTL website https://www.unitetolight.org/fundraise.html.

“This is a great opportunity for people to raise funds to send solar lights and solar power to causes that they care about,” said Megan Birney, president/CEO of Unite to Light.

“For every $10 raised, we’ll donate a solar Luke Light, or for $30 raised, we’ll donate a charger. People just need to register and list the benefiting organization in their Team name,” she said. “If people don’t register a team, we’ll send their donation to the project with the highest need.”

While participating, UTL urges participants to share inspiration with friends and loved ones by posting photos they take of their activity using the hashtag #YouLightTheNight.

“During this time, everyone is looking for something to do. While brainstorming ideas for a fundraiser, we thought of a 5k because we can still socially distance while being active and making a difference,” said Sofia Tognotti, lead youth organizer of UTL’s You Light the Night 5K.

Unite to Light is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to manufacture and distribute efficient, durable, low cost solar lamps to people without access to electricity. Unite to Light’s focus areas include: education, global health and natural disasters.

Unite to Light has distributed 125,000 lamps to 78 countries through a variety of partnerships. For more information, visit www.UnitetoLight.org.