National Runaway Switchboard Honors Ludacris

Rapper/actor Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and his Ludacris Foundation will be honored next month during the National Runaway Switchboard's (NRS) annual Spirit of Youth benefit.

Ludacris and the Foundation will receive the organization’s 2007 "Spirit of Youth" award at the event, which will take place Nov. 1 in Chicago.

The "Spirit of Youth" award recognizes individuals and organizations who work to keep America's runaway and at-risk youth safe and off the street.

"I am extremely happy my association with the National Runaway Switchboard has had a positive impact on reaching out to runaways and potential runaways," stated Ludacris, who set out to provide another option for those experiencing difficult situations in life with "Runaway Love."

"When I wrote the song, I wanted young people to know running away from their problems is not the answer and that they did not have to face every problem alone," Ludacris revealed.

Ludacris attracted the attention of the NRS when he expressed his concern over the issue of runaways in the lyrics to his 2006 hit song "Runaway Love" featuring Mary J. Blige.

Additionally, the rapper has used the Ludacris Foundation as a vehicle to help youth by partnering the charitable foundation with the NRS.

According to NRS executive director Maureen Blaha, the alliance has yielded positive results.

"Since Ludacris and The Ludacris Foundation have been involved, we have experienced a 50 percent increase in calls to our hotline, and the number of visitors to our Web site has increased more than 60 percent," she said.

Established in 1971, the National Runaway Switchboard serves as the federally-designated national communication system for homeless and runaway youth.

The organization, which receives support from more than 150 volunteers, handles an average of 100,000 calls annually as it provides crisis intervention, referrals to local resources and education and prevention services to youth and families throughout the country 24 hours a day.

The Spirit of Youth benefit will kick off National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM), an annual campaign held in November to raise awareness of youth runaway issues and to educate the public about the solutions that help prevent youth from running away.