IIM student Vivek Arora plans 4,000-km bicycle ride to raise funds for children with special needs

24th Feb 2018
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Vivek Arora will bicycle from Kashmir to Kanyakumari over 35 days to raise funds for Tapan Rehabilitation Society, which works with specially-abled children

Tarun Gandhi was among the 73 Indian gold medallists at the International Olympics for the specially-abled held in Austria last year. Few, however, know the story behind his association with sport.

Tarun was enrolled with the Tapan Rehabilitation Society in Karnal when he was just three years old, and recognising his interest in sports, the society provided him the platform and the resources to recognise his potential. Same is the case with Arun, who joined the society at a young age and went on to represent the country at the Olympics for the specially-abled in Athens, and was also recently awarded a cash prize by the Government of Haryana for his accomplishments.

The Tapan Rehabilitation Society was founded in 1994 by Sujata, and has since been working to provide training to specially-abled children from less privileged backgrounds so that they can find employment. It offers a holistic platform to skill children in diverse areas based on their interests such as cutting and tailoring, candle-making, arts, crafts, jute material and sports, among others.

The society enrolls children in their programme, and those who need full-time care are enrolled into the residential programme, where the society’s staff of 25 assists them with all their needs. It also houses a mini-rehabilitation centre for physiotherapy, yoga and meditation.

However, the non-governmental organisation has moved from the city centre to its outskirts due to its inability to pay higher rents in growing cities. This has also resulted in a reduction in its residential capacity and downgrading of facilities. It has also had to let go off a majority of children enrolled in its residential programme.

This is where volunteers like Vivek Arora are trying to make a difference. Vivek has been associated with the Tapan Society since his undergraduate studies and, now a student of IIM-Calcutta, he is planning a unique initiative to raise money for the NGO.

Tarun is one of many success stories of Tapan Rehabilitation Society, where more than 5,000 specially-abled children have been enrolled since it was established.

Vivek will cycle from Kashmir, and ride all the way to Kanyakumari to raise awareness and funds for Tapan Rehabilitation Society. "I combined my passion for travel with social good through this initiative. I aim to sponsor all aspects of the ride myself, and all proceeds raised through the crowdfunding campaign will be given to the society. While the ride is an awareness campaign, the money raised will be given to Tapan.

My corporate life, the MBA, the rat race in general had all conspired to make me leave my compassionate self behind a veil of ignorance, overlooking the sufferings and lives of fellow beings and never pausing to think for a moment. Well, not any longer," he adds.

For Vivek, giving back to Tapan Rehabilitation Society is his way of contributing to the society. He developed an affinity to the outdoors when in college, and has travelled a fair bit since. He has scaled peaks in the Himalayas and Europe, but he says that he wasn’t satisfied.

This is when he came up with the idea of combining his love for adventure with social welfare and developed the idea for a ride from Kashmir to Kanyakumari to raise awareness.

Vivek aims to begin his ride in March, and will cycle up to 120 km per day. He adds he will engage with cyclist groups, meet communities along the way, and raise awareness about children with special needs and their rehabilitation. He also says he will document his experience through a blog, and engage with people on social media. With support from his family, friends and college alumni, Vivek is confident of not only completing the ride, but also of meeting his fundraising goal of Rs 2,00,000 for Tapan Rehabilitation Society.

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