Cyndi Lauper and her True Colors Fund were presented with the 2011 “Spirit of Youth” award from the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) last week, recognizing their work and dedication for helping to keep America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets.

The ceremony took place at NRS’ annual “Spirit of Youth” benefit at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

Last year, Lauper flipped the switch to turn the Empire State Building green for National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM). She also recorded a public service announcement promoting NRS’ services. Additionally, Lauper has been supporting the end of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) homelessness through her True Colors Fund.

“The fastest growing problem identified by callers to NRS over the past year was GLBTQ issues with an increase of seven percent,” said Maureen Blaha, NRS executive director. “Thanks to the positive partnership NRS has with Cyndi Lauper and her True Colors Fund, individuals who want to talk about GLBTQ issues may feel more comfortable calling 1-800-RUNAWAY now than in the past.”

Past Spirit of Youth award recipients have included Ludacris, Chef Charlie Trotter, the Chicago Cubs, actors Tim Matheson and Sharon Lawrence, and Greyhound Bus Lines, Inc.

Last week’s event raised funds for NRS programs and services that benefit runaway homeless and at-risk youth and their families throughout the country. The Platinum Sponsor was United Airlines, and the Gold Sponsors were Carlton Technologies, Chicago Tribune, Greyhound Lines and Radio Flyer.

The National Runaway Switchboard, established in 1971, serves as the federally-designated national communication system for homeless and runaway youth. Recognized as the oldest hotline of its kind in the world, NRS, with the support of more than 150 volunteers, handles an average of 100,000 calls annually – more than 3 million calls since the organization’s inception. Through hotline and online services, NRS provides crisis intervention, referrals to local resources, and education and prevention services to youth, families and community members throughout the country 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Over 14,000 youth have been reunited with their families through the NRS Home Free program done in collaboration with Greyhound Lines, Inc. The NRS crisis hotline is 1-800-RUNAWAY. For more information, click here.

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