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The nation’s biggest and only walkathon, Sevathon, celebrates the spirit of seva. Predicted to be bigger than ever, it brings together over 100 Bay Area Non-profit organizations (NPO) pooling resources, expertise and ideas to make 2015 a blockbuster year for Sevathon and drive thousands to its 5K/10K/Half Marathon and Surya Namaskar.
“Our communities here in the Bay Area have been making us stronger with each passing year. We’ve come a long way since 2009; from a few hundreds of people to thousands of participants and hundreds of NPOs. Seva resonates with everyone across age, race and ethnicities. The causes they support maybe different but the drive is the same. We are 106 nonprofits and counting,” said Anu Jagadeesh, Sevathon co-chair.

In 2014, Sevathon raised 500,000 dollars via registrations and sponsorships. Isha Vidya, a nonprofit dedicated to providing education to children in rural India, raised $49,000 raised with 145 runners. The money helped them build classrooms for 153 children in the Erode region of southern India. The organization is back at Sevathon 2015, hoping to garner $75,000 to build 10 more classrooms in three school and provide scholarships to students for higher education.

Project Roshni is raising awareness and funds for the Prajwala Rehab center in Hyderabad, India, a home for hundreds of children and girls who are victims of sex-trafficking. The group has already raised $2,000 and aims to cross $10,000 according to its Sevathon registration page.

“For the largely volunteer-driven NPOs, Sevathon is months of pure hard work. Each organization puts in countless hours driving registrations, spreading awareness and helping with the event logistics. It’s a proud moment for us when Sevathon helps them get closer to their goals. A lot of nonprofits have found a voice and an audience via Sevathon and we are always striving to give them more and more support,” said Murali Chirala, Sevathon Co-chair.
“Sevathon in not just a single day event. It has evolved into a movement and two very special traditions. The Sevathon torch shines a spotlight on the wonderful works of service and philanthropy in our community.  The symbolic passing of the torch from one non-profit to another captures the essence of Sevathon. The Sevathon Speaker Series (or stories of seva) happens through the course of the year leading up to the main Sevathon flagship event,” Chirala added.

The India Community Center, the umbrella organization where Sevathon was seeded, organizes a speaker series where the social entrepreneurs share tips and resources that could help others succeed. Boys and girls club of Peninsula BGCP, Pratham, India Literacy Project, OSAAT and India’s Sankara Eye Care Institutions were some of the non-profits featured in the series this year.

The NPOs also gain massive awareness via a non-profit fair of sorts that happens in conjunction with the Walkathon and attracts the huge inflow of families who either come to cheer their runners/walkers or enjoy the beautiful cultural extravaganza that follows the Walkathon.

For the participants it’s the perfect mix of fun, fitness. Almost everyone while enjoying the event never forgets the true purpose. “At Sevathon you have fun but I always make sure I visit all the NPO booths and learn about the amazing work that these nonprofits are doing. I am a teacher and I want to encourage my students to volunteer. Many of these initiatives are small but very inspiring and my I feel several of my students would love to support them,” said Achla Trehan, a Sevathon regular who plans to attend the 2015 event with her family.

Sunday, July 12.  6:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Baylands Park, 999 E Caribbean Dr., Sunnyvale.

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...