When you’re at Sevathon 2010, doing big is not an option, it’s a default.

Named after the Hindi word seva or “Service,” the July 18 walkathon at Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park is a combined effort of over 35 Bay Area non-profits and their thousands of members.

Over 2,000 people are expected to attend 5k/10k/half marathon event where registrants can walk/run for any non-profit they believe in. Their one step can make a village in the third world light up with electricity or save a mother from losing her infant. “It’s for them to decide what big thing they want to do, we are simply providing them the option,” says Raju Reddy, co-chair of Sevathon 2010.

“Our cause is seva in whatever form, manner or spirit and wherever on the planet. Sevathon non-profits are working across the globe … from villages in Africa to the rural heartlands of India. We are simply bringing their work and their passion to the people,” Reddy adds.

Each non-profit has a story to tell.

Embrace, a Sevathon partner, has designed low-cost infant incubators that require no electricity, have no moving parts, are portable, safe, and intuitive to use. Embrace aims to launch the $25 product initially in India. The Stanford team got a pleasant surprise from local moms, who came out to volunteer, bringing their unique perspective and a personal connection to the technology to save these young lives.

The team at One Million Lights, a non-profit that began with a gift of 15,000 lights by the San Jose-based eBay, is distributing rechargeable, environmentally friendly solar lights to children and families around the world, making the sun shine at night.

e30e78c47bd96026d13c7a3ccaf8f8f4-1The organization works with the nuns of Sebeta in Addis Ababa. The hardworking women who care for and educate orphaned children in their community survive by growing their own food but the searing heat allows them to water their fields only at night. Without electricity, the nuns often found themselves stranded in pitch darkness till a volunteer from One Million Lights gave them the rechargeable lights.

“The solar lights bring efficiency and safety to the nunnery making things just a little easier for the nuns who are working tirelessly to support the 300 women and more than 200 orphaned girls of the community,” says the team at One Million Lights.

SiliconAndhra, another Sevathon Partner, meanwhile is busy saving an entire culture — one world record at a time. The group holds three Guinness World Records for its unique efforts at promoting and getting attention for their heritage. Silicon Andhra entered the record books for the longest singing marathon, the largest number of Kuchipudi dancers simultaneously performing, and getting a staggering 160,000 musicians to sing religious hymns at the same time.

This is the second year for Sevathon, and the event has inspired youngsters from around the Bay Area to get into the spirit of service.

“Thanks to this event, I can share with my children real-life examples of what seva can do. I registered to walk and
e30e78c47bd96026d13c7a3ccaf8f8f4-2 raise pledge for literacy projects in India. My children are helping me with it. My humble attempt at seva has inspired my young children and this is a reward I cannot explain in words,” says Monika Venkateshmurthy, a Sevathon volunteer.

Sevathon 2010 kicks off at 7:30 am on July 18. A cultural extravaganza with flamboyant Kathakali dancers, a kite festival with custom-made Sevathon kites especially flown in from India, and a food fair will run simultaneous to the walkathon.

This year the group has embraced Mahatma Gandhi’s principles, driving a parallel to Gandhi’s famed Dandi march which inspired a nation to freedom with its simplicity and effectiveness.

“It’s nice to be inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He walked for an entire nation … I think I can walk for a community,” says Shalini Mehta, a Cupertino-based engineer, who caught a glimpse of the Sevathon poster at a local store.

Sevathon 2010, July 18, 2010, 7:30am-1:00pm
5k/10k Registration: $25
Half Marathon Registration: $40
Discounted Registration for groups of five or more: $20 each Kids activities, cultural programs, Health Screening Camp: Free
To register and learn more about the participating no-profits visitwww.indiacc.org

Nandita Verma is the associate chair of SAJA Bay Area and contributing writer to India Currents and various local and international publications.

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