Walk-A-Thon 2010 news report
by Rajan Koirala
Heavy rain and mud did not stop hundreds of people from coming out to Spring Trail Park in Irving to help raise funds to build a hospital in rural India. On Saturday, September 25, men and women from several communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area walked three miles (5K) under umbrellas and raincoats. The event collected approximately $15,000 from sponsors in the community.
Verizon Wireless, one of the sponsors for the event, agreed to match the first $10,000 raised. “Walk to Help” is an annual fund-raising event organized in Dallas to provide healthcare for underprivileged people living in rural India where adequate medical care is scarce.
This was a non-competitive three-mile walk that appealed to people in the local community to sponsor walkers by donating to the cause. At the end of the walk a post-event fair with volunteer local vendors was scheduled. This was planned for the walkers to interact and get connected with each other, and would be a lot of fun for kids as well. However, because of the rain, the post-event fair was limited to just lunch. All the planned activities like cricket, face -painting, balloon twisting, bounce house, seven stones and award presentations were cancelled due to the bad weather. The asana (yoga postures), breathing and stretching classes were also cancelled. The organizers plan to bring these programs back for next year’s event.
“Walk To Help” was organized by the Dallas chapter of Ananda Marga, a global spiritual and social service organization, founded in India in 1955 by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. The mission of the organization is “Self-realization and service to humanity”. Through meditation centers a
nd service projects around the world, Ananda Marga conducts yoga, meditation and other self-development practices as well as providing emergency relief and assistance for long-term social needs.
The Dallas chapter of Ananda Marga has been offering free yoga classes, conducting weekly group meditation, and participating in volunteer work and social service for many years. It also offers free one-on-one and small group counseling sessions at its Yoga-Meditation Center in Richardson.
Prasad Joglekar, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Arlington, attended the event along with several other students and community members. He said he was enthusiastic to take part in such an influential social work. The rain made the weather pleasant by cutting down on the heat, so he was able to enjoy the walk even more.
“It feels good to be associated with a walk for such a nice humanitarian cause,” Joglekar said. “I am surprised to see such a large number of people on this rainy day, adjusting their busy schedule for this fundraising.”
Dada Advayananda, one of the event coordinators, was happy to see more than 50 people at the “Walk To Help” site before he reached there. He was thinking about conducting a “Symbolic Walk” because of the heavy rain, but his heart was lightened seeing so many souls, even mothers and little kids, braving the rain to join in an event to help the needy and underprivileged. As the time neared for the start, more and more people showed up, and that was very encouraging.
“Honestly, many of us thought, with the evening and early morning rainy weather and gloomy forecast, that our already once-postponed ‘Walk To Help’ event would be washed out,” said Advayananda during the lunch provided after the event. “The best part of the walk for me was the joyous spirit of selflessness exuded by the walkers, who took time out of their weekend early Saturday morning to brave the bad weather for a noble cause.”
Dada Subhacetanananda, an active member of Ananda Marga who helped organize the event, couldn’t attend due to a previously planned visit to India for the project. He said that he was happy about the success of the event.
“Ananda Marga runs the Abha Seva Sadan, a free clinic, in Nasirpur, Varanasi, which gives treatment to the people who live there,” Shubhacetanananda said. ” Ananda Marga purchased one acre of land to construct a charitable hospital in the same area in Varanasi to expand our services. Now we need equipment and buildings for the hospital.”
Varanasi is one of the oldest historical and religious cities in India. The Nasirpur area of Varanasi is a poor, rural community. People cannot afford costly medical treatment. The medical services at the clinic, offered by Dr. K. P. Singh are presently helping 300 people every month.
Singh is a retired deputy superintendent of the Institute of Medical Science at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi. Singh has been providing medical services at the Ananda Marga Ashram, Nasirpur, near BHU since 1993. He has a Ph.D. in Ayurveda and he is also very knowledgeable in allopathy. Besides the clinic, Ananda Marga has a children’s home for orphan girls in Varanasi managed by its Women’s Welfare Department.