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Moving Forward
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A brisk walk on a beautiful morning makes for possibly the best start to a day. A good run can energise one to think afresh. It only seems natural then that the health benefits of these pursuits should be drawn in to support a good cause. The Joy Run began with this simple but special idea — inspire people in cities across the country to run for causes that need that extra push of encouragement. Jointly conceptualised by Mumbai-based I Love My Mother Earth (ILMME) and Social Outreach Accreditation Programme (SOAP), The Joy Run happens simultaneously across locations on a designated day every year. Sunday, February 26, was the chosen date for 2012, and Pune joined the ever-growing list of cities that have come out in support of this event.

On a pleasantly cool morning, an enthusiastic bunch of students and few NGO supporters ran the first Pune Joy Run, a truncated seven km as opposed to the 10-kms other cities usually run. The run began at 7.30am from Vinod Mathurawala Grounds near Wanowrie Bazaar, and came back to the starting point after covering the distance. Professors Vidya Gholse and Sagar Lalka were part of the organising team, under the guidance of Baptis D’Souza and Vinod Mathurawala. Gholse revealed that the planning for the event was a whirlwind affair as the proposition for a Pune run came just a week before the scheduled event. “It’s been very difficult,” she admitted. Gholse is a training and placement officer at Jayawantrao Sawant (JSPM) Group of Management Institutes, which took up the mantle to organise the run this year.

In the midst of the college activities and commitments, organising the event was indeed a Herculean task. “We even sent out invites to other colleges, but got no response,” says Gholse. But the students of JSPM pledged to make the run a success and it turned out to be so. “We like to see it as a pilot awareness run this year. Next year, it will be better,” assures Gholse.

Close to 200 runners, among them Gholse’s seven-year-old daughter Aahna, participated in the run. The Joy Run has been bolstered by the support of ILLMME founder Sanjay Srinivas, also a celebrated filmmaker of God Lives in The Himalayas.

“I share a good rapport with him, and that’s how this concept for Pune came about,” Gholse reveals. ILLMME’s focus is on raising awareness, funds and other support for environmental issues. Actor Gul Panag is the face of SOAP, and has helped bring in well-known names to be associated with the run.

The Joy Run’s main focus is to raise funds for NGOs, through registration fees and sponsorships. Eight cities, apart from Pune, including Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai, are now in this fold, and organise a simultaneous 10km run on the day.