WESTCHESTER RESIDENT JOEL CASTRO, performing with Zan Roberts in Thoroughly Modern Millie, will hold a benefit performance July 26th for AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Westchester resident and actor Joel D. Castro has scheduled a benefit performance at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica Sunday, July 26th to raise funds for AIDS Project Los Angeles.

A majority of the event will be performed by Castro, who is training for the Maui Marathon, and it will feature selections from musical theater to opera. He will be joined by over a dozen of his friends for the show, with 26 scenes performed to represent the 26 miles Castro will be running in the marathon.

The benefit is scheduled at 7 p.m. at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica.

“‘Improve yourself – improve your community’ — I’m not sure who said, it but I literally ran by that quote on my first ten-mile run,” said Castro, who was born in Santa Monica. “When I started this, I was mostly thinking of myself, about how I could improve my life and take control of its direction. Nearly three months later, who I run for has changed.”

Castro says he embarked on a journey of self-improvement and is now on a crusade for others. An accomplished performer and graduate of Santa Clara University with degrees in theatre arts, classical studies and music, he is currently considering graduate school, hoping to pursue a masters of music degree in vocal performance.

Castro says he realized he could use his talents for good and put out a plea to his fellow theater friends to do the same. An avid performer, he met many of these friends when he starred as Jud Frye in Oklahoma! at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre two summers ago.

This summer, he is again performing on the Morgan-Wixson stage in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Even though it is one of many theatres where he has performed and made friends in the Los Angeles area, he says it holds a special place in his heart and he was hopeful that it could be the venue for a benefit concert to help make an impact in the fundraising portion of his campaign.

In exchange for participation in the marathon, Castro agreed to raise $3,500 for AIDS Project Los Angeles. He says he has reached his initial goal of $1,000 and has received a tremendous outpouring of encouragement.

“I never expected the kind of response and support I’m getting on this,” he said. “I’ve barely just run a half marathon, but friends and family already believe I can do it. I now run for myself, for my friends and family who believe in me, and for those who can’t run for themselves.”

Free parking for the benefit is available at the Venice Family Clinic, 2509 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. A $10 donation is suggested to those attending, with proceeds benefiting AIDS Project.

Information on Castro’s efforts or to make a donation, http://apla.convio.net/goto/JoelCastroMarathon/. Theater information, www.morgan-wixson.org/.