by Nasha Khan
The GiveLight Walkathon 2014 commenced under an overcast sky at the Sunnyale Baylands Park, on October 25th. Much like its inaugural year, this year also saw its share of light rain. The first year forecasted a beautiful and sunny day despite the three-week long torrent. But this year’s rain was a welcome respite from the months-long drought that has overcome California in recent years. Coincidentally, it occurred within the three-hour window of the walkathon both years. And just like the year before, the walkathon volunteers and participants remained unfettered by the indecisive weather and the challenges it posed. People from all walks of life — crossing barriers in gender, age, ethnicity and race, even belief — came together for a cause larger than life.
After the morning business of registration, a graze through breakfast goodies, and some light prepping through coached stretches, the participants were off. Parents in raincoats pushing strollers and gripping tiny hands, children in hoodies racing against one another, the elderly keeping pace under umbrellas — all moved toward a single purpose under the scattered autumn drizzle.
Through slick paved pathways and muddied dirt roads, over puddles and across spongy turf, the participants charged ahead aware only of the finish line. Those who trained for months sprinted forward, leaving splattered footprints in their wake. Unaccompanied children set their goal at a reasonable 8K. At the 10K U-turn mark, many paused for a commemorative photograph — number tags proudly displayed across their shirts — before heading back toward the beginning.
While the walkathon remains an important part of fundraising efforts, as one participant noted last year, it has also become a way to “honor the orphans.” And what better way to honor these children than to stride together for a joined cause, spurred by the common thread of devotion.
The GiveLight Walkathon 2014 welcomed many old faces and some new ones. Amongst the many volunteers and participants were Aparna Khan and Fariha Siddiqui who were part of the core team. Joining them was Faiza Javed who has been a longtime GL champion, and trained months ahead of the walkathon as a personal goal. Ari Sufiati and Maria Siamwalla were introduced to GL through the walkathon, and dove into the cause with as much dedication and enthusiasm as those before them. Their testimonials reflect the sentiment shared by the GL family across the board.
“It [is] not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
Mother Teresa’s quote resonates with me especially when I think of GiveLight, and realize how much I love what I do and how blessed I feel in doing it. I have supported many different charities in the past, but never have I been so hands-on and fully committed in my volunteer work as I am with this foundation. GiveLight has given me this opportunity.
I feel especially fortunate and delighted to have been part of the Walkathon planning this year and in organizing the event with such a wonderful team. I surprised myself when I managed to raise funds for the event. It was a first for me. The support that poured in from all my friends, family and colleagues helped. I was initially hesitant to speak to sponsors, thinking I may not have the communication skills for it; but after a few interactions with some sponsors I became more confident and did not hesitate to approach others. I am so pleased to have met my goals in raising funds, volunteering, and participating in the walk with my family and friends. It is an amazing accomplishment that I achieved only under the able guidance of the wonderful GiveLight Team. I am thankful to Dian Alyan for giving me the opportunity and having full faith in my deliverables. I also want to acknowledge the ever-energetic logistic team from whom I learned a lot in the few weeks of planning and execution.
Insha’Allah, I look forward to many more such events and extend my hand toward such a noble cause.
The GiveLight Annual Walkathon is an annual family event that I so look forward to each year, whether it is to volunteer for it or participate in it. This year, the core team and volunteers were present at the crack of dawn on the rainy morning of October 25th — all ready to set up and make sure that the participants had a flawless experience. The light morning drizzle neither deterred the participants’ spirit nor dampened the volunteers’ morale. The compelling cause that drives and motivates me to be there for GiveLight is the children’s smiles.
I have participated in the GiveLight 5k-10k Walkathon since its commencement. Having long been a supporter of GiveLight, I have mostly volunteered behind the scenes or participated in more social events. Every year the Walkathon gives me the opportunity to accomplish something on a personal level alongside reaching my humanitarian goals.
This year, with Dian Alyan’s encouragement, I was able to go out and raise money for the event by getting people to support my run. I was surprised to meet my fundraising goals and felt a responsibility toward all my supporters to deliver and complete the race.
This forced me to train by setting a personal goal for myself. If I did not believe wholeheartedly in the work that GiveLight does, I do not think I could have executed this commitment to the best of my ability or with dedication and determination.
The Walkathon attracted many new people from all backgrounds because they had heard about the cause and were also drawn to it. As the outpour of generosity grew, so did awareness for the cause.
Every year after I complete the race, I feel this sense of accomplishment and empowerment. I am overwhelmed with excitement as well as “fatigue,” but mostly I feel energized and “pumped up.”
I know that the work GiveLight does is inspiring, but each year the impact of the Walkathon is tremendous. The energy and spirit of the run is palpable. Parents, children, walkers and runners of all ages and backgrounds are there with one united purpose in mind — to support the orphans of GiveLight. Faces are lit up and smiles are contagious. The feeling of brotherhood/sisterhood is overwhelming between everyone out there — doing something, whatever they can, to light the life of another.
I had an amazing time and to this day I continue to run and walk in hopes of participating in the next GiveLight Walkathon.
I had heard of the walkathon only a week before the event. I decided to join out of passion for the cause and compassion for the orphans whom we all care for. My intention was similar to all who participated. Because we were all there for the same reason, there was a sense of camaraderie between us even though we were strangers. We may have come from different backgrounds, but we were all there for the children.
I was planning on throwing a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese for my son, Enzo, who turned six last October. When I heard about the walkathon, I decided it would be great to have the party there instead. So our family packed treats, a birthday cake, and invited some of his friends to the Sunnydale Baylands Park. More than ten kids showed up, excited, early in the morning. They all walked or ran 1K out of the 5-10k walkathon, which was too short a distance for many of them. The rain added to the excitement. Enzo was very happy when we all sang “Happy Birthday” to him and when he cut the cake. About 400 people celebrated with him. The best part was to know that his happiness also contributed to helping children like him who are much less fortunate. I look forward to doing more fun things to benefit GiveLight in the future.