SAN JOSE, Calif. — The ninth edition of Sevathon, organized by the India Community Center, brought together health enthusiasts, dancers, non-profits, and volunteers in large numbers.

Held at the Arena Green East park here July 9, Sevathon is a unique program that aims to create awareness and raise funds for participating non-profits. Enthusiastic people from all age groups participated in the marathon, danceathon and yogathon to raise funds for the non-profit of their choice.

Duncan Ryan, winner of the 10K run, told India-West, “I live in Scotland and I am here for a vacation with my family. We loved the great atmosphere and the wonderful charity work Sevathon promotes.”

The winner of the half marathon, Akshay Alaghatta, is a graduate of John Hopkins University. He was supporting Sankara Eye Foundation and the Khan Academy. 

This year, over 65 nonprofits participated in the event, supported by over 200 volunteers, and 5,000 other attendees. The day started off with a high-energy marathon, followed by a danceathon in which many renowned dance schools of the Bay Area performed and got everyone grooving to the music. Many attendees formed small groups to do yoga and stretch in the lush green lawns. Participants of all age groups enjoyed these activities followed by scrumptious food from the food trucks.

“This year, for the first time, Sevathon featured a food festival and included various entertainment programs like Bombay Jam, U-jam performances by ICC fitness instructors, and a stellar dance performance by ICC seniors,” Raj Desai, CEO of ICC, told India-West.

Maitri, a non-profit that supports victims of domestic violence, has been participating in Sevathon since its inception. Swati Saxena, who serves on the board of Maitri, noted that every year that she has been here, people have come and learnt about them with some saying that they know someone who needs help.

The Grateful Garment Project is a non-profit that helps return dignity to victims of sexual violence.

“At some point during the investigation, the victims are asked to surrender their clothes. It’s a horrifying experience for a victim to walk back home in hospital gowns. Our organization helps develop closets in hospitals for these people. Many people do not realize that such a need exists in the society. Through Sevathon, we try to raise sensitivity for this cause,” said Lisa Blanchard, founder and executive director of The Grateful Garment Project.

Ash Kalra, an Indian American California state Assemblyman, told India-West, “Over the years, ICC Sevathon has become an incredible tradition that focuses on nonprofits, health and fitness.”

Not just physical health, nonprofits that support mental and spiritual health also participated in the event. “This is our second year with Sevathon. We feel the spirit of enthusiastic energy, of service, and support in the air,” said sister Sukanya, a meditation teacher at San Francisco-based Brahma Kumaris. “We are offering peace picnic on the Sevathon grounds to bring meditation and joyful activities to the Bay Area community. Many opportunities to collaborate and co-operate with other organizations open up here.”

Sanjeev Acharya, CEO and president of Silicon Sage Homes, which presented this year’s Sevathon, told India-West, “I feel very connected with the people here who are doing something for the community. With this event, I feel we are directly in touch with 100 to 200 nonprofits. We would like to add more diversity to this event to take it to its full potential. I want to see it as the Boston Marathon of Silicon Valley.”

The India Community Center is a destination for the Indian American community to engage in cultural and social activities. It also aims to involve members from other communities to experience Indian culture and traditions.

Harbir Bhatia, cultural commissioner of Santa Clara City, said, “The uniqueness of Sevathon is the number of nonprofits and causes it is able to support. It’s about all of us together making a change, taking our country forward. There is not a better way than supporting nonprofits that focus on causes irrespective of the ethnicity. Volunteer. Volunteer. Volunteer. That’s the greatest way to build relationships as well as a better society.”

“Next year will be the 10th year of Sevathon and we would like to grow from 5,000 to 10,000 people and bring about greater diversity. We also want to involve the youth to take this program to newer heights,” added Desai.

The big winners of the 2017 ICC Sevathon were:

Akshay Alaghatta was declared the winner of the men’s half marathon. Michael Opitz and Ajit Narwal took second and third place, respectively. In the women’s category, Celene Oliveros, Elizabeth Fournier and Felicia Baeza, were declared the first, second and third-place winners.

In the 10K men’ race, Duncan Ryan, Ahmet Gokcek and Jesse Brooks came in first, second and third, respectively, while in the 10K women’s category, Katelyn Chu, Pushpa Ithal and Vibha Iyengar were placed first, second and third, respectively.

Naren Karur was the winner of the men’s 5K race, while the second and third spots were won by Nitin Suramanian and Efren Herrera, respectively.

In the 5K women’s category, the big winner was Victoria Borish. Rose Ryan came in second and Poorvi Satya placed third. 

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