40 executives sleep outside on freezing Detroit night to raise awareness about homeless youth

Some enveloped themselves in sleeping bags. Others relied largely on layering. All were cold and at least a little uncomfortable.

Forty business executives, college administrators and other professionals found out firsthand, for at least one night, what it's like to be homeless in Detroit.

Andrea Fischer Newman, senior vice president for government affairs at Delta Air Lines, and Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson and his wife, Jacqueline Wilson, were among those given a pair of cardboard boxes and a sleeping bag for their night on an outdoor basketball court on the grounds of Covenant House Michigan, a nonprofit that offers support to the thousands of young people who are homeless in Detroit.

The "Sleep Out" Thursday night and early Friday was designed to raise money for Covenant House and awareness about youth homelessness.

"Most of us are bundled pretty well, but it's cold out," Jim Revas, a manager with insurer Zurich North America, said before bedding down for the night. It was 18 degrees at 3 a.m., but all participants managed to get some sleep.

"It really brings a lot of thought to what homeless youth have. Homeless youth don't have Land's End, North Face, Cabela's gear like we do," Revas said.

Covenant House Michigan does have more cash now, though, thanks to the "sleepers" who gave more than $200,000 in pledges and contributions.

The Detroit event was one of more than a dozen in cities across North America. Covenant House Michigan executive director Gerry Piro said 1,000 sleepers raised $4.5 million in all.