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 <<CityNews Main Send Flowers to India!

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Vibha Dream Mile: Over 1500 Participate;$100K Raised

Sept 18th, 2010 will be remembered as a day when the Greater Atlanta community rose to the challenge and raised over $100,000 for the cause of underprivileged children. More than 1500 people participated in the 12th Annual DreamMile 5K Run/Walk that broke all previous event records. 

The gorgeous fall weather and the beautiful blue skies made it a pleasant experience for all the participants. The dedication and discipline with which the Vibha volunteers plan and execute all their fund-raising events was once again on display. 

Echoing the sentiment of "Doing More", Srinivas Vemulapalli, the event coordinator, said "This year Vibha volunteers took up the challenge of doubling the participation and revenue. All we had was a firm belief in the community. And the community responded to the cause and joined hands to do more. The event scaled up significantly in terms of participation, revenue and volunteer strength. We are glad that we are able to double our support to 5000 children. I sincerely thank the whole community for their participation and the volunteers who worked countless hours for the event and made it a true success.”

Sikshana, one of Vibha's premier projects in India was the main beneficiary of the event, while Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is the local beneficiary. Sikshana has been successfully transforming the public schools from a state of lethargy and neglect to one filled with excitement- a true place of learning, where the teachers and the students are performing to their best abilities. By focusing more on teacher training, student motivation and community involvement, and with minimal financial inputs (only $1000 per school per year), the qualitative and quantitative improvements are found to be significant. Vibha identified the model to be scalable and helped Sikshana grow from 3 schools to 400 schools in the last 6 years and also successfully tested the model’s replicability in other Indian states. As a result, Vibha organized a 3-day workshop inviting 21 organizations from 9 states to study the model. It is encouraging to note that plans are afoot to implement it in other states. 

It was quite heartening to have the presence of Mr. E.S. Ramammurthy, the founder of Sikshana at the event. Mr. Ramamurthy addressed the gathering and said "Vibha has motivated us to scale up, Vibha has helped us cross the 100 school tip-off point, Vibha has taken it upon them to test the replicability of the Sikshana model in Andhra Pradesh, and Vibha is now spreading our model nationally starting with Gujarat, Maharashtra and New Delhi. We are excited about the synergy between Vibha and Sikshana".

Ms.Keri Algood, from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta highlighted the work of the organization and thanked Vibha for making it a part of Dream Mile. 

The day started off at 4AM for several volunteers making final arrangements for the course set up, parking, food and drinks etc on the site. By 8AM the place was buzzing with activity on several fronts - registrations, children’s activity center, and booths by several partnering organizations. Aarti Patel turned up the excitement with a warm-up routine. Mr. Narender Reddy, a long time patron of Vibha kicked off the 5K Run sharply at 8.30AM. Mr. Deepak Raghavan, founder of Manhattan Associates and a long term supporter of Vibha did the honors for the 5K Walk.
The first runner to finish the race, Lester Li, breezed into the arena in 18:27 minutes followed by Randy Long in 19:05 minutes. Shortly after the race, the prize distribution ceremony started. Vindali Vartak, the Master of Ceremonies for the event, kept the gathering on their toes with contagious enthusiasm and challenged and motivated the participants to collectively reach the target of $100,000. The target was achieved gradually as the prize distribution to the runners and the walkers progressed. Mr. E.S. Ramamurthy gave away the prizes to the winners in all the categories.

The overall winner in 5K Run among Women was taken by Kathryn Foti (22:16), followed by Brook Godell (22:46).The 5K Walk winner among Men was Surender Mutyala (34:00) followed by Sundar Raman(35:25).The 5K Walk in Women was won by Padmala Malerrati(36:10) followed by Brianna.

Keshav Kumaran, Action Center Coordinator- Vibha Atlanta, thanked all the sponsors and participants and specially appreciated the participation of all the community organizations. The Sumathi Mahajan Volunteer of the year award was awarded to Rohit Khumbar for his dedication & commitment to the cause.

At Vibha it is all about children. It is about the child who dreams about transforming himself from being a child laborer to a school kid who is learning and looking forward to break the cycle of poverty. It is about the child in whose school and class the environment is so improved and exciting that she looks forward to active learning. And it was truly inspiring to see hundreds of Atlantans share this dream and run the DreamMile. 

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