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Updated: June 12, 2013 14:10 IST

Best foot forward

PRINCE FREDERICK
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All for a cause: Neville Billimoria
All for a cause: Neville Billimoria

‘Dawn To Dusk 2013’ will see runners and cyclists join Neville Bilimoria to raise funds for children with cerebral palsy

The children who go to Bal Sanjeevani can’t walk with a steady gait, let alone run or cycle. Neville Jamshed Bilimoria, a 44-year-old fitness freak, is doing both for them, continuously for 12 hours on January 13. Called ‘Dawn To Dusk 2013’, this unique feat of endurance, which involves six hours of non-stop running followed by another six hours on the saddle of a cycle, is a fund-raiser for this Ambattur-based rehabilitation centre for children with cerebral palsy, whose services come free.

The planning for this event came on the heels of a similar dawn-to-dusk effort by Neville in 2012, when he performed the same feat to generate funds for a Round Table India project to build classrooms and other infrastructure in schools holding out hope for underprivileged children.

The long preparation for ‘Dawn To Dusk 2013’ is reflected in the massive number of corporate sponsors and partners and the huge community involvement (visit nevilleendeavours.com for details). Hollywood film producer Ashok Amritraj has come on board as brand ambassador for Bal Sanjeevani. “The good work done by the organisation since its inception in 2006 has generated all this goodwill,” explains Neville, who is senior partner and immigration consultant at Bilimoria & Associate.

Giving an overview on Bal Sanjeevani’s work, Neville says, “An initiative of the Rotary Club of Ambattur, the centre has been providing rehab services for close to 700 children. The centre is constant need for splints, wheelchairs and other walking aids. Cash crunch prevents it from scaling up its team of speech and occupational therapists. Immense support is required especially for Project Therasuit. A therasuit, originally designed for astronauts, provide stability to the trunk and, therefore, facilitates more coordinated movement of both upper and lower extremities. An almost magical aid for those with spasticity, a therasuit costs a lot, approximately Rs. 1.2 lakh.”

Given these needs, Neville worked closely with Dr. Ravi Subramaniam and V.R. Sukumaran, key members of the core team that runs the centre, to produce brochures and videos and other material that could reach the mission to the people. As they went about preparing such material and planning for ‘Dawn To Dusk 2013’, they discovered a fount of human kindness. Says Neville, “Everyone decided to offer their services for free. It proved one thing: people are willing to help if they are convinced of the worthiness of a cause.”

* ‘Dawn To Dusk 2013’ on January 13, stretching from 9.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m., involves two locations. It starts with the running session on the IIT Madras Campus, where Neville will run on a 7-km loop. Around 700 IIT-M students will run with Neville for the first 10 km. A few members of the city’s running community, which includes Chennai Runners, are expected to keep Neville company during the session, which gives way to the cycling leg at 3.30 p.m. Members of Tamilnadu Cycling Club (TCC), which supports this session, and others will ride with Neville, down the East Coast Road, past Mahabalipuram. Turning around, Neville and his band of cyclists will finish the session at 9.30 p.m., at Radisson Blu Hotel at St. Thomas Mount.

* The hotel’s support of the initiative extends to what is called ‘Music For The Eyes’ (from 7.15 p.m. on January 13), a black-tie, sit-down dinner crowned by a performance by the Anil Srinivasan-Sikkil Guricharan duo that is organised in aid of Bal Sanjeevani. Illustrations by Biswajit Balasubramaniam will be displayed at the venue. Proceeds from their sale will be used into supporting the rehabilitation centre.

* People can register for 10 km and 21 km runs (at nevilleendeavours.com), a kids run (supported by the Chennai Trekking Club) and for the cycling event. “We expect around 1,200 runners and 110 cyclists,” says Neville.

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