Miley Cyrus didn’t even have to twerk to make a bang at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
When the "Wrecking Ball" singer won Video of the Year at the show on Sunday, she sent up Jesse Helt, a young homeless man, to accept the award in her place. The pair used the opportunity to raise awareness for youth homelessness and for Cyrus’ fundraising campaign for My Friend’s Place, a Los Angeles organization that supports young people living on the streets.
By Monday, the campaign had raised $200,000, according to The New York Times.
"I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now," Helt said in his speech on Sunday. "I know this because I am one of these people."
He also directed viewers to Cyrus’ Facebook page where she explained in a pre-recorded video how people can get involved, and that donors will be entered to win a trip for two to Rio de Janeiro to go to her Sept. 28 show and "hang out" with the pop star.
Cyrus first met Helt on Aug. 19 when she paid a surprise visit to My Friend's Place.
The organization has been serving homeless youth for 25 years and offers a number of programs. Its day shelter provides clients with basic needs and its education program helps equip them with marketable skills, according to the group’s website.
After meeting the 22-year-old aspiring model, Cyrus invited him to be her date to the awards show. She paid for his suit, hotel stay for the weekend and the pair drove to the event together in Cyrus’ SUV, according to the Times.
While Cyrus has mostly gotten positive feedback for her campaign, there has been some backlash after it was revealed that Helt has a warrant out for his arrest in Oregon, the Associated Press reported.
In 2010, according to court records, Helt broke into the home of a man who had been selling what he believed to be "bad marijuana."
Helt pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and criminal trespass, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and probation. After he violated probation in November 2011, an arrest warrant was issued.
But Cyrus has been quick to defend her new friend and to remind supporters to pay attention to the essence of her mission.
People who are homeless have lived very hard lives. Jesse included.— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) August 26, 2014
I hope that this can be the start of a national conversation about youth homelessness and how to end it.— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) August 26, 2014
Does looking down upon the homeless help people excuse their inaction?— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) August 26, 2014
The media never fails to disappoint. You've chosen to go after Jesse instead of covering the issue of youth homelessness :(— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) August 26, 2014
While they obsesses over one homeless mans legal issue lets help the other 1.6 million homeless youth http://t.co/VE6P9yfAVX— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) August 26, 2014
To donate and learn more about My Friends Place click HERE!