More than 2,800 people – from toddlers through to senior citizens – joined the BAPS Annual 10k Challenge in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj on Sunday 18 June 2017 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
The nationwide charity Challenge brought together more than 3,800 enthusiastic participants from towns and cities across the UK for a fun and healthy way to raise money for various worthy causes and local charities.
The funds from this year’s event will go towards the Alzheimer’s Society, the country’s largest charity fighting dementia, and BAPS’s multifarious educational, community and spiritual activities serving children, youths, families and the elderly.
Previous national partners for BAPS and BAPS Charities have included Age UK, the Anthony Nolan Trust, Barnardo’s, Breast Cancer Care, the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK, KIDS, and Macmillan Cancer Support.
The event was inaugurated in the morning by Mahant Swami Maharaj. Sadhus also flagged off the Challenge from the ceremonial gate of the Mandir.
Later in the morning, Mahant Swami Maharaj attended a small function at Gibbons Recreation Ground (opposite BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London) in the presence of Jeremy Hughes (CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society), Dawn Butler (Member of Parliament for Brent North), Cllr Mohammed Butt (Leader of Brent Council), and The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Chaplain to the Queen and Chaplain Speaker of the House of Commons).
A minute’s silence was held at 11.00am in remembrance of those who had tragically lost their lives in the recent fire at Grenfell Tower in West London.
Addressing the gathering, Mr Hughes said that the Alzheimer’s Society is proud to work with BAPS to address the lack of support for people suffering from dementia and to raise awareness in local communities. He also outlined his vision for an individual volunteer to support each of the one million people estimated to be suffering from dementia by 2021. “I look forward to working with BAPS to be at the forefront of that volunteering commitment.” He concluded by addressing Mahant Swami Maharaj: “Your philosophy, your Holiness, is amazing! It is a beacon and an example to the world.”
To further support the awareness highlighted by Mr Hughes, an Alzheimer’s Society bus was parked in the courtyard of the Mandir throughout the morning where people could go to ask questions and receive informed answers from volunteers.
After the opening ceremony, walkers, joggers and runners moved around the park to complete the 10 kilometres. Young children completed a number of circuits of their own, while participating in various entertaining activities en route.
Naiya Patel, aged 7, shared her thoughts after completing the walk: “I feel very happy to raise money for people who need it. It gives me an opportunity to think about and help others and not just myself. I am also especially happy to do the walk this year as Mahant Swami Maharaj is with us.”
One of the lead volunteers for the event, Sanjay Kara, added, “We’re very pleased to see so many people – both young and old – as well as families, come together to do something positive and enjoyable. Pramukh Swami Maharaj fostered the values of serving others and Mahant Swami Maharaj continues this ethos today. The Alzheimer’s Society runs excellent programmes for people suffering from dementia and we are delighted to be able to offer our support in furthering their great work.”