Youth organize charity run for Georgia cow sanctuary
Shivika Bhayana (left) after organizing a successful walk to benefit Sacred Cows Sanctuary.
This is our story of how a group of passionate students have made a difference in the world. On October 18, 2014 a few high school students hosted one of the most rewarding events of our lives: Run for SEWA. This 5k run successfully raised awareness for animal rights and money for the Sacred Cows Sanctuary in Gainesville, Georgia, which was started by the Stephans family who “unknowingly rented a house right in the middle of a cow farm 16 years ago!” and, having fallen in love with the creatures, could not see them being hauled off to the market to be slaughtered.
We have been involved with SEWA (Selfless Efforts for Welfare of All) for the past few years. A most admirable quality of this organization is the opportunities it gives the youth. From volunteering at SEWA’s Swami Vivekananda Laser Show to being an intern at SEWA’s Get Inspired Program, we have always been granted great trust and responsibility. We have been treated like an equal volunteer regardless of the fact we are working with many adults. In addition, SEWA truly fosters skills of leadership in every single project. When we approached SEWA to host a youth-organized 5k run project, it was an exciting experience to get approval.
We began planning Run for SEWA in April of 2014: we gathered student volunteers and worked on venue, the cause, and promotion. Originally we had decided to raise money for poor children’s healthcare and education, but the SEWA team asked me to come up with a more local cause. Thus, we picked Sacred Cows Sanctuary. This safe haven for cows was very dear to our hearts as many of us practice vegetarianism or are animal lovers.
As time progressed, students dropped out of the planning committee and others joined. The project was time consuming, but we can confidently say that we learned something new every minute. Only through organizing Run for SEWA could we gain so many valuable skills. We learned to communicate with each other: every member had to be informed about our decisions from ticket pricing to sponsorships to décor. We held conference calls and in-person meetings frequently. We also needed to go out and talk to businesses and CEO’s for sponsoring our event. We learned time management: with several AP courses, standardized testing, a part-time job, and other clubs, planning this event was frustrating at times. This frustration, however, made us more efficient and organized. The most prized skill we gained was teamwork. Leaders are part of the team. We made sure to help out with every task and learned to delegate because every effort must be a collective effort.
Sewa International USA - Atlanta's 5K Run: Chief Guests Bala Reddy Indurti and Pramod Sajja with Sewa's Atlanta President Pratap Singh and Swadesh Katoch on October 18, 2014.
The planning took about seven months. Every step of the way, we had support from friends, family, and the SEWA team. We signed up around 200 people for the run and raised $7,000 before expenses. We were delighted to see so many dedicated volunteers show up at 5:30 am at Riverside Park in Roswell on event day to help set up. It was a clear, sunny day, the perfect weather for a run. The event ran smoothly and every volunteer and guest enjoyed it. We had various breakfast items, a yoga/stretch session, a DJ, music, speeches, diya painting, sponsor booths, and of course the 5k run. We also invited the Sacred Cows Sanctuary owners. It was so heart-warming to see the joy on their faces. This amazing organization has saved and protected many cows from slaughter, and we were truly honored to help them.
Reflecting on the event, we feel so grateful to have been blessed with this opportunity. The skills we have learned are so priceless. The people we worked with are so sincere and have become true friends. Our efforts have helped save lives of innocent cows. The most remarkable aspect of Run for SEWA, however, was that the whole event was put together by students. We hope our success instills faith in the future generations and inspires similar selfless projects.
Sewa’s youth group organized the event.
Core Members of the Student Team: Shivika Bhayana, Devneet Singh, Fatima Webhe, Vidushi Gupta, Madhav Ghatpande, Pragya Bhayana, Avanti Joshi, Janani Rammohan.
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