Sari Run/Walk organized by SarisToSuits
A run/walk event, S2S Sari Run for Ma, was organized by SarisToSuits in Alpharetta on May 7. Founded in 2012 by Patti Tripathi, a global media professional, SarisToSuits is a charity that strives towards female empowerment, education, and cultural competency.
[Left] Participants at SarisToSuits event.
As the red ribbon ceremony concluded, women draped in colorful designer saris and accompanied by spunky Bollywood music, walked the trails. They created quite a buzz as all heads and eyes turned to the participants as they entered the park exuding desi charm.
Alpharetta Mayor Jim Gilvin headlined the Run along with guest speakers Hetal Patel, the Regional Services Administrator of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, and Harold D’Souza, a labor trafficking survivor. The event also featured a spectacular Sari Show showcasing saris from various regions of India conceptualized by Hetal Mehta, an energetic Lezim dance directed by Anima Das, and put together by Swetha Shetty, henna art and cards made from previously owned saris handmade by underprivileged women in India were also on display.
A week shy of Mother’s Day, the event was meant to honor mothers everywhere. “When I was young, my mother would wear saris to the grocery store. When we first got here, there were no Indians. I would tell her to walk the other way. I didn’t want to be seen with her when everybody was staring. My mother died at age 56. So, this is to honor my mom by wearing a sari on Mother’s Day and for cultural competency as well,” Patti Tripathi, Founder of SarisToSuits said.
“This is especially sentimental for me,” Mayor Gilvin said. “I still have my mother. She’s 87 years old and she is a force of nature still. And she taught me at an early age that women are the foundation of our society. I’m also very blessed to have a strong wife.” He added that his wife, who works in the technology field, often speaks about how the diversity of women is not always respected in the workforce. “I’m very sensitive to that,” he said. “I know that our companies and our economy here in Alpharetta and in the world could not thrive like we do without all of you. And so, to be able to help women advance their careers, as well as having a little fun out here and running is fantastic.”
Participants, volunteers, speakers, and board members came together
to make the Sari Run event a success.
The Sari Run featured talks from a mental health advocate and labor traffic survivor as well as upcycled products made by disadvantaged women in India in order to highlight SarisToSuits’ goals of expanding Purple Lotus legal funds for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking; providing culturally tailored and comprehensive services; conducting outreach and advocacy across
communities to end gender violence; providing emotional, mental health, language assistance, and legal services to help disadvantaged minority communities; and partnering with mission-aligned social enterprises for job creation amongst the underserviced. Funds raised from the event will aid women through the Legal Fund.
“We have recently discovered that the number one cause of death between the ages of 10 and 14 is death by suicide,” Dr. Patel, a mental health expert, said. She highlighted the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline that provides 24/7, free and confidential crisis resources for everyone and also spoke about the Girls Summit initiative that helps young girls understand the importance of mental health.
Labor trafficking survivor Harold D’Souza, originally from India, came to the U. S. following the advice and encouragement of a man who would become his trafficker. For over 18 months, Harold was exploited at the hands of the human trafficker, losing his freedom and struggling to keep his family safe. “I failed on 4 Ps –as a parent, a provider, a protector, and a person; but I flipped them into passion, purpose, power, and prayer,” D’Souza said. Through his organization, Eyes Open International, he hopes to lead the charge against modern-day slavery.
The warm and sunny day turned brighter as lead Hetal Mehta walked the pathway draped in fuchsia fabric followed by Bhrushira Vyas, Meghana Naik, Ranjita Palei, Nirlep Kaur, Anima Das, Ritambhara Mittal, Priya Kumar, Lakshmi Mandavilli, Heena Patel, Karishma Gulati—all bedecked in traditional regional attire accompanied by regional music and dance routines.
The excitement was palpable as the crowd cheered on and the Lezim dance group, which included Sweta Shetty, Neetu Singh Chauhan, Snehal Gandhi, and Jyoti Polasa, kicked up a storm with their rhythmic beats and synchronized choreography.
Board members Parul Jha, Veena Rao, and Jyothsna Hegde, along with Patti Tripathi, led the effort in organizing the event. Jha spoke of months of effort. Rao thanked sponsors and supporters. “Be it sari or suit, our pursuits and dreams are only limited by our thoughts, and not our culture, clothing, or any barriers and this is proof of that,” said Hegde.
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