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8th annual Toppenish Martin Luther King Jr. Peace March

Press Releases
January 8, 2018

From 80 to 800 participants in 8 years

TOPPENISH – Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Toppenish School District, and Toppenish Community Safety Network will host the 8th annual MLK Peace March in Toppenish, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and community involvement. The Toppenish MLK Peace March gathering is set for Monday, Jan. 15, at 10 a.m.

Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic’s Martin Luther King Jr. Peace March in Toppenish has grown over the years. In 2011, the idea was started by Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps Program staff member Rosa Ortiz.

The MLK proclamation will be read by Toppenish City Mayor, Clara Jiménez and a special message will be broadcast from Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. The keynote speaker will be Heritage University President Andrew C. Sund, Ph.D.

Entertainment includes performances by Toppenish School District students.

Welcome/Kickoff: 10 a.m at the O’Reilly & Dollar Tree parking lot (300 West 1st Ave, Toppenish)

March to Toppenish Middle School: 10:30 a.m.

Speakers and Performances: 11:15 a.m. (at Toppenish Middle School, 104 Goldendale Ave.)

“The idea was to bring a positive event in our valley since we did not have one.  Yakima always had their big MLK event annually and I wanted to bring that to Toppenish,” Ortiz said.

Once the plan was set, Ortiz approached Toppenish School District Superintendent John Cerna, asking to use the middle school cafeteria for the presentation.

About 80 participants attended the first event, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic CEO Carlos Olivares was the key note speaker and the Toppenish High School high school drumming class performed. Toppenish area youth read Martin Luther King Jr. poems.

“Before we left the building, John Cerna approached me and let me know that he liked what I did and that he would help me make it bigger and better by creating a committee and well, you know the rest,” Ortiz added.

Cerna says over the years he’s watched the community grow the annual event and he couldn’t be more proud.

“Because of Martin Luther King Jr.’s role in history, I have the opportunities that I have,” Cerna said. “Without him, I may not be able to hold the role in the school district that I do.”

The event is a collaborative effort by Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Toppenish School District, City of Toppenish, Community Safety Network of Toppenish, Heritage University, Starbucks, Radio KDNA, and Panaderia El Porvenir. Coffee, hot chocolate, and pastries will be provided to all attendees.


About Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic: The Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides comprehensive medical, dental, and social services for more than 131,000 people throughout the Pacific Northwest. Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic employs 1,390 full-time staff and more than 600 part-time staff, medical residents, dental residents, students and volunteers. Facilities: 18 medical clinics, 10 dental clinics, 49 programs. Locations: Washington State clinics are located in Grandview, Prosser, Pasco, Spokane, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Yakima, Walla Walla and Wapato. In Oregon, clinics are located in Hermiston, Portland, Salem and Woodburn. Visit: