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Denver restaurants, musicians raise $25,000+ for organizations fighting hate crimes against Asians

The fundraiser began with a goal of $10,000 – the support was overwhelming.

DENVER — When anti-Asian hate crimes began to spike across America this spring, law enforcement and elected leaders considered what they could do.

So did a food truck owner in Denver.

"It really just hit home," said Penelope Wong, owner of Yuan Wonton food truck. "It brought about a lot of bad memories from my childhood of being bullied, and made fun of. I knew we had to do something."

Yuan Wonton has become wildly popular in Denver – it's the product of Wong’s incredible cooking.

For nearly two years now, the truck has focused on food – now it’s advocating for change.

"I’d like to say that I proudly, proudly boast my heritage, but I won’t lie, in March it was very, very difficult. I found myself going out to the grocery store with a hat on, sunglasses, mask on and keeping everything on while I was in the store. For fear. I was really, really afraid for my family," said Wong. "It was really nerve wracking. Because you just didn’t know. There’s a lot of people who say Denver is different, it won’t happen here. But, it really only takes one person."

When we began to see a rise in hate crimes against Asians, Wong donated her profits to organizations combatting the violence. She felt that wasn’t enough, so she brought in some help.

Caroline Glover owns Annette, a popular restaurant in Stanley Marketplace. She helped organize a fundraiser with Penelope to benefit organizations fighting Asian hate. More than 30 restaurants and musicians including Nathaniel Rateliff and the Lumineers joined. Their goal was to raise $10,000. They met that in four days and kept going.

"When you own a restaurant, you learn that you have a platform and it’s really important to use it for the right reasons," said Glover. "Being at $25,000, that’s totally insane."

The fundraiser raised more than $25,000. The money will be donated to the AAPI Community Fund and the Asian American Foundation. It's a sign of a community that says love and support is more powerful than any hatred.

"It’s been incredibly overwhelming knowing that there is that level of support for us here in Colorado," said Wong. "As an Asian American, I never would have thought that we would have been able to ask for this kind of help, for this kind of support."