It was a crisp fall morning in October. The air was fresh and clean which was a blessing as another walkathon organized by UNWRA a week prior had to be cancelled due to bad air quality from the fire in the North Bay Area. Our core team who had been working hard for months to plan the event arrived on site at the crack of dawn, excitedly anticipating a beautiful morning.
This year our core team consisted of 11 dedicated volunteers and was led by a dynamic duo: Rehmat Kharal and Aparna Khan. Although such an event – especially when it goes so well – may seem simple, a lot of thinking and planning went into it. We had to secure sponsors, do significant marketing, make sure we had enough food and drink for everyone, fun activities for kids, etc.
Around 8am participants started to trickle in, excited and all smiles. Our team of 30 plus volunteers were in action to distribute bibs and t-shirts, welcome guests with warm coffee, donuts, bagels and fresh fruit – all donated to us by generous sponsors.
At 9:15am the race started and the excitement began to build up. Under the cloudless blue sky, kids, adults, moms pushing babies in strollers all raced to chase the light. Many were running fast while others took a leisurely stroll, giggling and chatting with friends. Along the course, excited youth cheered the runners and handed out cold refreshing water. The majority of participants participated in the 5K course and about 50 or so did the 10K. Around 11am everyone finished the run/walk and we announced the winners, starting with child participant. Everyone got a medal and prizes and it was wonderful to see their smiles and happiness.
Apart from participating in the walkathon kids had choices to do face painting, build giving jars, and GiveLight bracelets. Spiderman also showed up (played by Hamza Haider) and was a big hit with the kids. One of our friends, Rosie Kasem, came with pots of succulents that she and her kids arranged for us. They were able to raise close to $300!!
We are so thankful to all our generous sponsors for supporting our cause year after year. We thank all of our amazing volunteers including girl scout troop 60540 for their enthusiasm and dedication. Clearly it was an amazing fun-filled family event, and we heard from many that they are looking forward to joining again next year. Just as important, our volunteers who worked so hard also enjoyed the event as shown by their reflections below:
“The GiveLight walkathon was a great event from my vantage point, let me explain.
Whether I was reaching out for volunteer support or sponsorship the response was overwhelming.
My volunteers this year were amazing and went above and beyond what was asked of them; whether it was by creating an amazing craft area for families, or by filling and replenishing food for our almost 300 registered guests, I couldn’t have asked for a better team.
The goal of this event is to make it as economical as possible, so that money raised can go to the wonderful children that GiveLight supports; to that end, I can’t thank our sponsors enough. When I would reach out to a sponsor and ask them to support this event, 8 out of 10 times the response was positive. Once I sent them the sponsor letter and had a second conversation with them their donation typically doubled! I am grateful and happy to say that not $1 was spent on feeding our registered guests.
The day of the event was awesome – we had over 30 volunteers who showed up to the park as early as 6:30am, and stayed until the event ended and the venue was clean, the weather couldn’t have been better; in fact the ranger at the park said this is the cleanest and best clean up effort he has ever seen at Baylands. The volunteers this year rocked, my co-lead was a pleasure to work with, we couldn’t have pulled off such a successful event if it wasn’t for the Lord almighty.
Children are angels on earth, and orphans are very special angels with a special place in my heart. Looking forward to raising more funds for our very special angels.”
~ Rehmat Kharal, Team Co-lead
“This event was truly a means of giving love and support to children in need. To the children in pain and suffering, this event was one of those rare sights that tells them, “It will be ok … God will find a way”. For that it is an honor to be a part of Givelight Foundation.”
~ Arjumand Farhan, Volunteer Lead for Food
“GiveLight has been such an important part of my life the past 7 years. Two years ago when I moved to Sunnyvale, where GiveLight first began, I immediately felt like God was placing me here for a greater purpose. This was my first year involved with the GiveLight Walkathon and it was truly such an honor to be given the opportunity to serve God and the most vulnerable of His creation – orphan children. Just like in Ramadan, I felt so much barakah (blessing) in my time, and noticed that the time I was devoting to GiveLight made me feel so fulfilled. It was a such a blessing to be able to live such a purposeful life these past couple of months preparing for the event that I am now having GiveLight withdrawals and am brainstorming ideas for the next event to raise awareness and funds for such a noble cause”
~ Sahar Javed, Volunteer Lead Day of Event
These are heartwarming reflections from our team members who volunteered their time and effort and worked so hard in putting this event together. May Allah swt bless them all and everyone who participated in making the event a huge success.
We also want to acknowledge our sponsors and thank them for their generosity. Until next year!!