Apna Ghar is gearing up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and this year we’re lucky to announce that we have 5 unique individuals running for us. We asked each participant why they have chosen to run for Team Apna Ghar and here’s what they had to say.
I decided to run for Apna Ghar because I have long been passionate about working to end domestic violence. While attending undergrad at UC Berkeley, I volunteered at a transitional housing site, providing mentoring and tutoring to children living at the site – the majority of these children had witnessed domestic violence. After observing the effects that domestic violence can have on women and children, I decided to become more involved with the community working to end domestic violence. After graduating, I began working at WOMAN, Inc., which is a nonprofit in San Francisco that provides holistic services to survivors of domestic violence. I completed a 40-hour training here in order to be able to provide direct services in California, including answering the 24-hour crisis line and working in the children’s program. This was definitely an invaluable experience, as I learned how empowering a single conversation, or just telling someone you’re there for them and are listening to their story, can be in enabling them to make a difference in their lives. Still, it emphasized to me the extent to which domestic violence con tinues to affect far too many women, children, families, and communities. There are simply not enough services available to survivors of domestic violence; having to tell someone that there is not enough shelter space for themselves and their children is heartbreaking and should not continue to happen.
I decided to go to law school at Northwestern in Chicago with the idea that this would give me more of an ability to fight for underrepresented groups, particularly survivors of domestic violence. I was able to do so last summer when I worked at Bay Area Legal Aid in San Francisco – here, I helped facilitate housing transfers for women and families who needed them due to domestic violence. And this summer I’m working for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia in the Domestic Violence/Family Law Unit – we primarily work to obtain orders of protection for survivors of domestic violence, as well as helping with child custody issues to ensure that women leaving abusive situations are able to maintain custody of their children. When I saw that I would have the opportunity to run the Chicago Marathon on team Apna Ghar, I decided that this was the perfect chance to run a marathon (which I have always wanted to do, but never quite got around to!) while supporting and fundraising for an amazing organization that provides undeniably crucial services to the Chicago community. Without organizations like this, women and children would often be forced to stay in abusive, dangerous situations. I’m so happy to have this opportunity, and I can’t wait until October!
Click here to visit Caitlin’s campaign page.
One of the biggest things on my bucket list has been to run the Chicago Marathon. Some people think I am crazy and think why I would put themselves through their body through so much pain and anguish. I understand where they come from but for me it’s been about challenging and pushing myself to the extreme. The marathon is a battle between the mind and body and my goal is to finish the marathon no matter what the circumstances are.
I am proud to be a part of the Apna Ghar Team and I am so excited to be able to run the marathon for them. I was introduced to Apna Ghar through my wife who is a Development Intern there. She is the first person to introduce me to such a great organization that does so much for women and tackles the issues of domestic violence. My goal of this marathon has become much deeper and I hope by running this marathon, I can assist Apna Ghar with the wonderful work they do and help spread awareness about the different forms of gender-based violence.
Click here to visit Ankush’s campaign page.
A second-time runner for Apna Ghar, Mohan Iyer is a passionate runner and a passionate giver. He put these two together to try and accomplish something remarkable: Mohan’s goal is to run a marathon in every state. He has made it to his 40th state and plans to keep going. He has decided to run for Apna Ghar again at the Chicago Marathon, giving him the opportunity to raise awareness on gender-based violence.
“I am very passionate about [Apna Ghar] and so even after my guaranteed entry into the Chicago Marathon, I chose to join Team Apna Ghar as that gives me a formal chance to raise funds and publicize the charity,” he said. As far as my Marathon running is concerned I continue to make progress towards completing a Marathon in all the 50 states. I am up to state number 40 so far and expect to be at 46 by the end of this year.”
For more information on Mohan’s progress, please visit his website atwww.mohaniyer.com and be sure to visit his campaign page here.
it Ajay’s campaign page.Ajay Koul
I enrolled myself for the Chicago Marathon lottery few months ago. Immediately afterwards, in the same browser session, I came across the charity option. I got a feeling running via the general option would essentially focus on me as an individual, while as aligning with a charity would put focus on the charitable cause, something larger than myself. It was a logical choice to sign up with a charity.
There were several charity options. Like anyone else, I wanted something to resonate with me. Two quick choices were: Diabetes Association (I am a diabetic), helping women & children (have seen many suffer due to lack of level playing field perpetuating economic disadvantage).
The neglect of women/children is obviously a much broader social issue, plus it has low visibility, thereby resulting in larger gap between funding versus need. So I signed up for Apna Ghar. Moreover, this (Indian) name is powerful enough to capture the essence of a practical solution to the problem.
I signed up using my credit card for $1000 funding assurance. Meanwhile Ashley, development manager at Apna Ghar, helped me set up the web page for collecting charitable donations. I set an arbitrary goal of raising $2500 and reached out to friends, some relatives and some colleagues. The donations followed an S-curve; slow start, rapid build-up, and eventual plateauing. Thus far, my donors contributed $2100 approximately.
In the month before the marathon race, I will reach out to some more potential who might have missed out on donating due for whatever reason. I plan to achieve the envisaged goal of raising $2500.
Click here to visit Ajay’s campaign page.
Meet our Marathoners for 2014
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is less than five months away, and Apna Ghar is thrilled to have two runners racing and raising money for us. One is a veteran marathoner in his 50s, the other a 32-year-old newlywed who has never run a marathon. Here’s why they’re doing it and how you can support them.
Mohan Iyer, 53
Chief information officer (CIO) for Mesirow Financial
Married with two sons
From: Baroda, India (moved to U.S. in early 1990s)
Marathons run: 40, and one of them was an ultra-marathon of 35 miles; he has run the Chicago marathon four times
Total races run: 74 (see the list here)
Running schedule: Mohan has run one full marathon every month for the last 3 years. This year, his goal is to run 14 marathons (14 in 2014). So far, he’s done six, including Boston, and before the Chicago marathon, he will have traveled to Alaska, Switzerland, Iceland, Sioux Falls, Omaha and Portland for marathons (the Switzerland race is an ultra-marathon of 48.5 miles). He also runs frequent half-marathons.
Running for: Six years
Why did you start running? “A combination of mid-life crisis and motivation from my doctor.”
Why run for Apna Ghar? “I was looking for a charity to run for, and the name jumped out at me. I didn’t expect to see a Hindi name, and I know exactly what Apna Ghar means. There are very few causes like this, taking care of immigrant women and fighting domestic violence.”
Donate to Mohan and Apna Ghar
Kunal Shah, 32
Senior consultant, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants
From: Born in Boston, grew up in Mumbai, moved to the United States to attend Indiana University; lived in Chicago for five years and then moved to London for three years, moved back to Chicago last year
Marathons run: None, though Kunal and his wife, Leslie, trained for the 2012 New York Marathon that was canceled because of Hurricane Sandy
Running schedule: Kunal doesn’t have much race experience, but he has run long distances, often of between 12 and 15 miles, for many years for exercise
Marathon strategy: Start with “boot camp” at the gym in the hopes of losing at least 5 or 6 pounds, then train with the Chicago Area Runners Association
Running with the wife: Kunal and Leslie, who married last June, will run the race side-by-side; Leslie is raising money for the Big Shoulders Fund, which supports Catholic schools in Chicago
Why run for Apna Ghar? “Although I was born in and am a citizen of the U.S., I identify closely with our immigrant population, as I too grew up in India and am in large part an immigrant myself. Of the immigrant population here in the U.S., there is large percentage that is less fortunate than me. It is the children within this subsection that regrettably don’t have the same opportunities and benefits that I was lucky enough to receive that I would like to raise money for and represent in this marathon.”
Donate to Kunal and Apna Ghar