Though you may have seen Will Smith’s compelling portrayal in the 2006 film, The Pursuit of Happyness, you probably haven’t heard the story from the mouth of the film’s real life protagonist, Chris Gardner. On April 18, you will have such an opportunity, as Gardner will be in Charleston to share his inspirational story of living on the streets with his young son in San Francisco in the 1980s.

Through perseverance and determination, Gardner was able to rise from poverty and find financial success. In 1987, Gardner established Gardner Rich with just $10,000 and a desk in his home office. It became a top brokerage firm, earning Gardner millions. Gardner has used his success to help those in need and sponsors several charitable organizations, including the homeless shelters that helped him stay alive. His story is now widely known, due to the success of his autobiography and the subsequent film.

Crisis Ministries will host Food Shelter Hope at Charleston Place’s Riviera Theatre so that the Charleston community can meet Gardner and learn about the realities of homelessness. “I think his story shows that the homeless are just as much people as anyone else — homeless is just their housing status,” says Amy Ziegler, director of grants and community outreach at Crisis Ministries. “We want to put a face to the issue. A lot of times it’s out of their control.”

Following Gardner’s speech will be a dinner reception and an auction. Regular tickets are $100, and VIP tickets are $500. Visit charlestonhomeless.org for more information and to purchase tickets.