ORLANDO, Fla. – The fourth annual “Stop the Violence” rally took place Saturday, and the event’s message really hit home for one man.
Ruben Saldana learned about Saturday’s event at the last minute, but brought his group because he said it’s important to him to show up to all anti-violence rallies.
"These streets ate me up, personally. They tore me up, they chew me up. Forty-one years old now, I'll be damned if it eats these kids up,” Saldana said.
Saldana is the creator of “Ru Camp,” a program that helps troubled youth learn boxing and self defense.
"We can have the greatest event today, but if the kids and the people don't take it as a lifestyle after today, what good is it?" Saldana said.
He said he walked five miles down Orange Blossom Trail through the West Art District from Oakridge just 24 hours before two deaths occurred in that area, which made last weekend a deadly pair of days in the Pine Hills area and the driving force behind the rally.
"I'm not bullet proof but we're going to stand and represent these kids and all kids in this neighborhood," Saldana said.
Tracui Cox, 16, said he was going down the wrong path until he got involved in Ru Camp.
"It got my grades up, got my attitude right with my mom,” Cox said. “I'm very respectful to it. It's a program every child should be in."
Saldana said Saturday’s event was a great start to getting the future generation on the right track.
"The grass is already here. There's no more roots, it's here. The grass is here, we just need to support it," Saldana said.
The six-hour event also included food, fun and Easter baskets for kids, and had a symbolic memorial for the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. Fallen Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton was also honored with a legend award during the event.