Mentorship group: Bharath Kumar Thandri (mentor), Bhavna Verma, Bragadeesh Natarajan, Kirti Joshi, Manoj Bhave, Mohit Sood, Phani Kommareddy, Sankar Gurumurthy and Sarah Victor.
Bhavna Verma is a newbie runner who has added running to her list of passions after joining Team Asha, along with sketching and painting. She came to know about Team Asha through her husband, Mohit (more on him below) and signed up with no hesitation. She has made amazing progress through the training program, in spite of taking a 2-month trip to India last year. She visited "Khushboo", one of Asha Austin's projects during her recent trip to India and this visit has helped her appreciate the impact of the volunteers' efforts. Her dedication towards Asha's cause was evident when she coordinated the entire publicity effort during Show of Hope last year. Team Asha will be cheering her in full force when she runs her first half marathon next week.
Bragadeesh Natarajan came to know about the Strides of Hope program through a colleague at AMD. His calm demeanor has been his trademark throughout the training program and he has stayed the course in spite of multiple ankle injuries. He took his commitment to Asha another step when he volunteered for the Show of Hope last year. He has varied interests, one of which is international politics - if you are wondering what's up with Mugabe in Zimbabwe or Erdogan in Turkey, please ask him during the next long run or the race. With the 3M Half Marathon already under his belt, he has set his sights on the Austin Half marathon.
Kirthi Joshi has a cheerful personality which is infectious to everyone around her. She always has a smile on her face, even after a grueling long run in the hills. She has made steady progress and improved her pace during her training, which went without a hitch till December. Lady luck has not been kind to her half marathon racing plans – she has been stranded in India since December after her visa renewal process got delayed due to "administrative processing" reasons. She has maintained her training schedule by doing long runs in India alone, which is really commendable! She hopes to be back in Austin by April - in time to run the Zooma Half marathon - the entire team may be there to cheer her during the race!
Manoj Bhave has known about Team Asha since his graduate schooling days at Rutgers and had plans to support this good cause for a long time – he took the first step last Fall when he joined Team Asha after moving to Austin. He has been strong in his commitment to the training program, in spite of multiple travel schedules due to work at Qualcomm. He has been amazed at his progress during the program, from his good old "1 mile run at treadmills" to 10+ mile runs. He renewed his commitment to Asha when he volunteered for the Show of Hope program along with wife Kirthi (see above) last year. He has successfully overcome multiple injuries and is looking forward to complete the Austin Half Marathon, his first race, in style.
Mohit Sood is a veteran Team Asha runner who is involved in multiple Asha activities – he might as well have enthusiasm as his middle name. He has coordinated both the Show of Hope and Strides of Hope programs in the past, in addition to training for a couple of full marathons. He has had to cut down his running schedule due to various commitments last year, but there is no stopping him once he sets his sight on a goal. He also visited Khushboo (Asha Austin's project), along with his wife Bhavna (see above), which has strengthened his resolve to further Asha's efforts. He is planning to run the Austin Half marathon with Bhavna and aims to finish strong both in his race and fund raising efforts.
Phani Kommareddy was introduced to Team Asha program through his friends at Seattle and Dallas. Though he joined the program a month late in early October, he surprised himself by running a PR in the IBM 10K race, inspired by the Team Asha cheering squad! He is one of the fastest runners in Team Asha and his running pace has been matched by his fundraising pace - he is very close to completing his target amount. He has shown amazing resiliency through his training program - he underwent a nasal procedure and has had to recover from multiple injuries. His plan to run the 3M Half marathon was hampered by injury and we wish him the best of luck to recover in time for the Austin Half Marathon.
Sankar Gurumurthy is affectionately known as "gentle giant" of Asha Austin. This is his second year with Team Asha and he makes running look easy - whether it is a weekend long run, tiring quality workout or his target half marathon race. Cheering squads adore him because he is easy to spot from a mile among a bunch of runners. Apart from running, he also volunteered for Show of Hope and treasurer post last year. He plans to be a regular contributor to Asha's activities in coming years and he is on track to set an example for other runners who will look up to him - both literally and figuratively!
Sarah Victor is a first time Team Asha runner who signed up for the program immediately after attending the program's info session. She set a Team Asha record by finishing her fundraising commitment as early as October last year! She continued her Asha work by volunteering for the Show of Hope program. She has cruised through her training since the start, trying to balance it with her work commitments at Intel, but had some setbacks in the last 2 months due to work deadlines. She is pumped up for her first race- Austin half marathon and aims to conquer it by any means, in her words "At least I will walk and finish it". With the entire cheering squad encouraging her on the sidelines, she is going to find it really difficult to just walk and not run throughout the course!
This is the halfway point, we have 3 more mentorship groups to go!