Walk-A-Thon 2012 Reached Its Third Year of Fundraising
By Glen Sovian
Amid chanting of slogan “walk a mile, save a life” and waving of placards, cheering participants concluded another year of successful fundraising at the third annual Walk To Help’s Walk-A-Thon on Sep. 22 at T. W. Richardson Grove Park in Irving, Texas.
Organized by Ananda Marga Dallas Region, this non-competitive 5K walk benefited Abha Seva Sadan charitable hospital for rural community with substandard health care in India. The event also included yoga practice, games, and other fun activities.
“This event was very successful,” said Dada Shubhacetanananda, president of Ananda Marga Dallas Region, a Texas-registered nonprofit organization in Richardson, Texas. “The goal of Ananda Marga is self-realization and service to humanity, and this charitable event fits within the goal of our organization.”
The annual Walk-A-Thon started in September 2010. It has received its main financial support from the Verizon Foundation, Verizon Communications Inc.’s foundation that assists qualified nonprofit organizations through its Matching Gifts program.
“Every year Verizon has been a major contributor to help our project,” said Dada Advayananda, vice-president of Ananda Marga Dallas Region, who has helped organize the event in the past three years.
According to Ananda Marga’s record, this year’s event is expected to raise nearly $22,000, including about $12,000 from Verizon volunteers and other sponsors, and $10,000 from Verizon’s Matching Gifts program. Previously, it raised $26,000 in 2010, and $13,000 in 2011.
Other event sponsors were India Bazaar, Vonage, Tilak Jewelers, Malani Jewelers, Our Place Restaurant, Desiplaza, Rajan Koirala, and FunAsia. Event supporters were Roma Palace, Royal Sweets, Bollywood Grocery, Gopal Restaurant, Capital One Bank, Walmart, CiCi’s Pizza, Lowes, Association of Persons Affected by Addiction, D’ Vegan, and East-West Appliance.
“We have a good understanding among sponsors and volunteers. Sponsors know what we’re doing and we know what to expect from the sponsors,” said Onkarnath Pandey, a Verizon volunteer.Besides Ananda Marga’s members and supporters, the Walk-A-Thon drew participations from people of all ages from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“It’s good to be walking with lots of people in high spirits,” said Dylan Newman of Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch. “To help build a hospital in the other side of the world really shows humanity. It is much more selfless than other events. I think it opens up to the world that seems [to have] no limits.”
Nathifa Nnayamka, a student from Texas Woman University in Denton, came to the event to support those in need of health care.
“It’s important to realize that this is not only an Indian issue. It highlights a problem with healthcare since its cost continues to rise and the support is decreasing,” said Nnayamka.
While the event was intended for a worthy cause, it may also offer networking opportunities, educational benefits, or simply a fun weekend activity. Following the 5K walk, the crowds socialized or made new friends through vegetarian lunches, henna painting, and various games.
“It’s a great event because we help each other supporting needy people. I encourage other people to join this event in the future and they will learn something new that helps their lives,” said Vijay Bamane, a Verizon volunteer.
The gorgeous weather helped bring about 75 people to the event. But some organizers said that the last-minute change of venue to T. W. Richardson Grove Park might have caused some confusion and affected attendance. In its first two years, the Walk-A-Thon events were held at Spring Trail Park in Irving.
“We’re getting new sponsors and getting our name out there. There should be around 500 people. That’s our target next year,” said Vishnu Singh, a fundraising organizer.
This year’s Walk-A-Thon was a clear improvement over last year’s event in terms of preparation and organization. However, organizers are beginning to plan out a better outcome for next year.
“We met our target and what we expected,” said Siddharth Pandey, another Verizon volunteer. “Next year we want to raise our bar a little higher in terms of fundraising. We need to do more work in terms of media, and spread the words to more people.”
COMMENTS FROM WALK-A-THON:
“We’re helping so many lives. It makes me peaceful inside.”
(Vaishnavi Singh, School for the Talented and Gifted, 12th Grader)
“It was awesome. I didn’t think it would be like this. I love the experience and hope to do it again. Hopefully, I can convince more friends to come.”
(David Jimenez, Richland College’s Yoga Club member)
“I really like this program. It helps save lives and it’s a for a really good cause.”
(Anshuman Pandey, School for the Talented and Gifted, 9th Grader)
“This is just like what I expected.”
(Josue Bustamante, University of North Texas’ Yoga Club member)
“I really like it a lot because it’s a nice day to have fun to help people out. Doing the walk represents something that’s selfless.”
(Dylan Dare, Richland College’s Yoga Club member)