Nearly 200 people, most of them members of the Palanpuri community from New York / New Jersey participated in ‘Step Forward’, a 5K Run / Walk organised to focus the community’s attention on health and fitness and raise funds for "Lend-A-Hand India", an NGO providing vocational and job/life skills training to poor young boys and girls from villages in India. The event was an initiative taken up by Neena Sheth and Priti Kothari to follow up on the success of earlier community programmes like Photo Hunt and Antakshari.
The idea of 5K run/walk received an enthusiastic response given the focus on health and fitness as well as increasing desire to give back to the home country. Within no time, over 180 people around the tri-state, signed up run/walk. Saheli Kothari came up with the name "Step Forward" for this event signifying the step forward for the community into the fitness and health as well for all the poor kids in India to whom the money raised would benefit.
Hence on a beautiful fall morning on Oct 24, 2010 nearly 200 people gathered in FDR Park in West Chester New York for the first ever such event for our community. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement as for many, this was for the first time that they were going to attempt such a distance.
Adding a meaningful purpose to this fun, the money raised by way of sponsorships benefited "Lend-A-Hand India", an NGO providing vocational and job/life skills training to poor young boys and girls from villages in India. The specially designed "Step forward" orange t-shirts matched very well with the fall colors of the leaves all around the park. The atmosphere was festive with Bollywood and Bhangra music by the DJ, breakfast and lunch served by Masala Kraft, a juggler - Michale Dubois entertaining participants.
After finishing some stretching the group took off for the run. The course had cheerleaders organized by the volunteers of Lend A Hand India as well as water and snack stations. After the intense competition, Amay Sheth won the youth category, Rushabh Parikh (from Firestone) won the men's category and Seema Mehta won the women's.
To add to the excitement, a member of the Palanpuri community in India announced to match dollar for dollar all the funds raised for this race. Including this contribution, over $40,000 were raised for Lend A Hand India's programmes. The money will be used to provide vocational and job/life skills training to over 10,000 young boys and girls from remote villages in India.
To view more pictures from the event, click here
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