Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Peek at our Team Asha Runners 2008-09 - Part 2

As promised, here are our next set of Team Asha Runners! We hope you have fun reading about them and getting to know them better!

Mentorship Group: Anjali Deolapure, Chaitanya Poda, Charanya Ravikumar (mentor), Rachel Taylor, Radhakrishna Iyer, Revathi Ravi, Sreedevi Menon, Shriya Ravikumar, Vanessa Swesnik, Vishwas Iyengar

Anjali Deolapure is not new to helping support and fundraise for a cause. She was a volunteer for several years with Pratham, an organization that is trying to universalize Primary Education and eradicate illiteracy in India.She also encouraged two of her friends to sign up for the SOH program this year! An avid music and math lover, Anjali will be attempting to run her 1st ever half-marathon, the Zooma Women’s Half-Marathon in April, and we have no doubt that she will do just great and finish the race sporting her signature smile!

Chaitanya Poda learnt about the Strides of Hope program from his cricket teammate Vishwas (also in this mentorship group) and signed up almost immediately.Chaitanya is not just a fast runner, but he was also one of the first to complete his fundraising commitment. A dedicated and enthusiastic person, once Chaitanya puts his mind to something, there’s no stopping him! He is looking forward to running his first ever half-marathon in February and has set a target finish time for himself, one that we can be confident that he would achieve!

Rachel Taylor is one of the ladies that Anjali helped introduce to Team Asha. She is one of this season’s 5 full-marathon runners. Rachel is not new to marathons, and has already run a marathon before. She signed up for Team Asha so that she could complement her love for running with supporting a great cause. We wish her all the best as she attempts another 26.2 miles at the Austin Marathon!

Radhakrishna Iyer is one of this year’s returning runners and a newly wed who just recently returned to the US from his wedding in India! Participating in his 4th season of Strides of Hope, this highly dedicated Team Asha volunteer is also a project steward for the Sree Nityanandaswamy Educational Trust. Radha is one of our runners who probably trains the least – but year after year surprises everyone by coming out on race day and completing a half-marathon like it was a piece of cake! Radha moved from Austin to Boston last year and has not quite decided on his target race this year, but will run a fantastic race regardless of where he decides to run!

Revathi Ravi, or Revathi Maami, as she is fondly referred to by all who know her, is one of this season’s most energetic and enthusiastic runners. Maami is someone who constantly has a smile on her face and is always the first to step forward when anyone needs help! She is not just an Asha runner, but also teaches Carnatic music, helps manage a local musical group Om-Kara, is a regular volunteer at the temple, and also has a day job at the IRS amidst all this. Eternally young at heart maami will be running her 1st half-marathon this year and is going to make Team Asha so very proud as she overcomes this challenge with the support of her countless friends and fans!

Sreedevi Menon just signed up for the Strides of Hope program pretty recently, but she is not new to Asha or marathons! Sree and her husband Lalit, have been dedicated Asha volunteers for the past 3 years and have also raised funds for projects via running marathons before their involvement with Asha. A very bubbly person by nature, Sree is also the mother of an adorable little boy Soham. This sincere, hardworking marathon mommy is sure to inspire all of us as she crosses the finish line this February after running an impressive 26.2 miles!

Shriya Ravikumar is an eternal bundle of energy! Very passionate about Asha’s cause – providing education to underprivileged children – she was also the President of Pratham Austin’s student chapter during her time at UT Austin. Shriya trains remotely from Sugarland, TX, and week after week, has planned her running schedule and has stuck to it, despite her hectic travelling schedule as a consultant. A true team player, Shriya was also the 1st winner of the Bingo Challenge organized by Team Asha and has also already completed her fundraising target! There is no doubt at all that she will have a strong finish on race day!

Vanessa Swesnik is the other lovely lady introduced to Team Asha by Anjali and will also be running her first ever full-marathon this year! Vanessa has been very committed to her fundraising efforts and also very creative! She organized a pumpkin carving party cum fundraiser during Halloween and also urged her family to donate to Asha for Christmas instead of buying her Christmas gifts! Team Asha salutes her dedication and wishes her all the best for her 26.2!

Vishwas Iyengar aka Vish is a natural athlete! Vice-captain of his cricket team, league champions this past Fall, Vish decided to explore long distance running during his off-season. He lives in San Antonio but has joined the Austin folks on several weekend long runs and has consistently been setting PRs during his races, including the Dallas Half Marathon and 3M Relay. Vish also kindly opened up his house to the SOH runners who ran the San Antonio Half-Marathon and was a perfect host. He is all set to run another fantastic race this Sunday at the New Orleans Mardi Gras Half-Marathon!

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