RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. The holiday originated in Mexico and is a beautiful celebration where families honor their ancestors.
In Raleigh, the holiday has taken on a very special meaning for Angela Salamanca. Salamanca who owns Centro Mexican Restaurant downtown started a Day of the Dead 5K in 2010, since then the race has raised more than $170,000 for the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club.
It all began when some of Salamanca's staff asked to set up an altar (which is tradition for the holiday) in the restaurant to honor loved ones. Salamanca grew up in Colombia and didn't celebrate the Day of the Dead but was inspired as she learned more about the meaning and purpose of the celebration.
"They set up this beautiful ofrenda," Salamanca explained. "There were flowers, there were offerings and pictures of their family. For me, it was such a touching moment because I had lost my sister a few years past, and this gave me a kind of shared language to deal with the grief. So, I said, I love this. How do we do more of this? And then ever, ever since then, we've been setting up an ofrenda somewhere in the restaurant. That turned into let's invite the community to celebrate."
The money raised benefits the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club, which provides after-school activities for predominantly Latin American students in Raleigh. Students from the Brentwood location train for weeks to complete the 5K and help raise money.
"It's not just running," explained Pepe Caudillo, Director of the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club. "We want them to learn healthy habits and just start making good decisions. We have the opportunity to remember our loved ones. And so I think that is the theme of the race. For those who are here, we should live our lives in a way that when we die, somebody will remember us. It's about let's celebrate life and then do the most that we can out of it."
Registration is open for the 5K. Donors can also sponsor a little runner for $35.
The Day of the Dead 5K is Saturday, Oct. 28 in downtown Raleigh at 10 a.m. It begins at Centro Mexican Restaurant on Wilmington Street.
New this year, organizers are also launching a Day of the Dead celebration at Oakwood Cemetery.
The Oakwood celebration will include three days of events at the cemetery with a big art installation, music, and dance, and an altar to make an offering to ancestors or loved ones.