BY: Kanan Pandya
The India Run for Hope is creating a huge wave in Indian community by becoming its own nonprofit organization.
The run, a 5K race scheduled for August, has established itself as a student run organization that has raised $20,000 each year for the past two years.
In 2006, a joint event was hosted by Alpha Iota Omicron, a South Asian interest professional fraternity, to spread awareness and raise funds to benefit the American Cancer Society India Cancer Initiative. Their goal was to create a working class movement that would rally students and local communities to engage the growing health concerns for cancer affecting South Asia and the U.S.
Since then, more than 25 student organizations, community leaders, and local businesses have rallied together to form what is now known as the India Run for Hope. The group now has a new objective to spread the movement nationwide, and has already started spreading collaborative efforts to University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.
Uma Patel, of Atlanta, is the current chairwoman of the board of directors for the India Run for Hope where she oversees the logistics and the expansion process of the event. Not only has she been involved for the past five years, she has participated as a general volunteer, marketing chair, and in 2010 as the coordinator of the run.
“The hardest part for us is maintaining the standards toward becoming a nonprofit,” Patel said. Meaning, even though we have already created a name for ourselves, we have to watch every event we host, our by-laws being questioned and the legalities for hosting such an event.
As a new organization, there are certain criteria it must be aware of, such as not promoting parties that are involved with alcohol. Currently the run is under review and waiting to hear about its confirmation about its 501c3 application. This is an application an organization files with the Internal Revenue Service for a tax-exemption. This process has become elongated because certain factors, such as being a student- based organization are making the process a bit tedious.
Jacob David, event founder and former chairman, makes the effort of the organization clear.
“Grassroots-level events like the India Run for Hope have the potential to make change in the community at large. We are determined to use the run as a means to take action by spreading awareness and giving hope to those dealing with the cancer crisis in both India and the U.S.,” said David.
With the awareness that is being spread, the run has successfully managed to send its message throughout local organizations and the Indian community. The Indo American Cancer Association has met to collaborate effort with Cachar Cancer Hospital and
Research Centre in Silchar, Assam. The organizations are helping to staff and mediate cancer education to people in the community.
In India, there is very little known about cancer. At the cancer hospital, medical professionals can educate families, screen women for cervical cancer and seize carcinogens that were used by people in the community.
Through collaborations with Indo American Cancer Association and the India Cancer Initiative, the India Run for Hope has successfully provided seed grants, educational resources, treatment and screenings for potential victims and raised support for the physicians in India.
“We are hopeful that 2012 will be our year to succeed in becoming an independent nonprofit organization,” Patel said.