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2017 Annual Run for Sewa

We stayed up pretty late on Saturday night writing about the two events of that day but we still got up early on Sunday, September 10th, to travel to the Weiss Field in Avon Lake where we took part in the the 2017 annual "Run for Sewa" which, in the words of Dr. Hira Fotedar who is the President of Sewa International Cleveland, "is a fundraiser for ASPIRE Education and mentoring programs for at risk low income youth in the greater Cleveland area."

We arrived just before the 5K and one mile walk/run started but we were still greeted warmly by Dr. Fotedar and Ms. Mitali Singh who is the Treasurer of the "Bengali Cultural Society" which Ms. Margaret W. Wong has supported over the years.

We obtained some pieces of literature that told us that Sewa International USA was founded in 2003 and "is part of a larger movement that started in India in 1989. Sewa USA serves humanity irrespective of race, color, religion, gender or nationality based on Hindu principles of 'Service to Humanity is Service to God.'"

We also read that the ASPIRE is a one-on-one after school tutoring and peer mentoring program which also assists parents in dealing with the school system and sometimes advocating on their behalf. Its objectives are "to improve student grades, learning and college admission rates, foster positive attitudes towards education and community, and ensure accessibility to all needy high school children in the community."

Along these lines, Ms. Viji Vijay, VP of Operations of Sewa International Cleveland, told us that the money raised on this event would go to ASPIRE endeavors taking place in Lakewood and South Euclid on behalf of young Bhutanese refugees.

Just prior to the 9am kickoff of the run/walk, we were addressed by Mayor Greg Zilka of Avon Lake who said that the United States owes and has always owed a great deal of its greatness to the "wit and talents" of immigrants who came to this country to realize their potential. The mayor noted that unfortunately we have gotten a little "off track" with our thinking on this subject lately (i.e. the Trump administration although Mayor Zilka didn't directly say so) but research has shown that by at least the second generation immigrant families really take off and become very successful. He credited Sewa International for its consistent support of immigrants from Asia and the South Asian countries.

Then the run/walk started and we, ourselves, opted to walk the 5K just as we did when we attended this event in 2016. We were still a bit tired and had a slight cough so we decided to take it very slow and enjoy the relaxingly cool weather. Needless to say, we finished in the lower tier but we still made it in under an hour. Soon after we finished, we were off to church so we didn't stay to watch the awards but we understand that a 74 year-old man RAN the 5K in only a half hour; we certainly hope that he received an acknowledgement because we hope we're that agile, determined, focused and physically fit by the time we reach that age.

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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