80 Dancers Dazzle Vision-Aid Event, Attended by 720 People; $113,000 Raised for the Visually Impaired in India

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LITTLETON, MA—Dazzled by 80 dancers and attended by 720 people, Vision-Aid’s annual event “Golden Armor: Golden Heart” this month raised $113,000 for visually impaired in India.

Produced by renowned choreographer Madurai R. Muralidaran, the show was sold out well before the show day. Organizers of the event said that 850 individuals came together to make the event possible: 720  enthralled audience members, 80 dancers on stage and 50 dedicated volunteers.

“Vision-Aid raised a record $113,000 at the event, which it plans to invest immediately in its programs to benefit the visually impaired,” Vision-Aid said in a statement. “The funds raised are very timely for Vision-Aid which is expanding its footprint to 10 locations this year. One of these centers will be a large National Resource Center for the visually handicapped at Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, the largest eye care system in the world.”

From Left to Right: Syed Ali Rizvi, Prtima Srinivasan, Venkat Srinivasan, Ram Raju, and Revathy Ramakrishna

Vision-Aid expects to serve over 1,000 visually impaired in first year alone with future growth expected as the program expands. Vision-Aid plans to invest $40,000 in the first phase of this project. Another $30,000 will be invested in significant infrastructure upgrades at the Lui Braille Blind school in Agra where Vision-Aid launched a new center in 2017.  The remaining funds will be invested in other programs run by Vision-Aid in 8 other locations across India as well as supporting projects such as Hackathons for the Visually Impaired and Blind and conferences, the Vision-Aid statement said.

Chief Guests, Hosts and Organizers

Venkat Srinivasan and Pratima Srinivasan were the Chief Guests. Mr. Srinivasan keynoted the event with a moving speech.

“We are really impressed with the Vision-Aid team for bringing what we think is a really important but neglected social issue to the mainstream conscience of the Indian diaspora community in the New England area,” said Mr. Srinivasan. “What is impressive about Vision-Aid is its holistic approach towards this challenge.  They have successfully created a scalable eco-system to help the visually impaired – innovating low cost assistive devices, training to make them employable, and educating the rest of the world including us about how to be sensitive and inclusive.”

From Left to Right: Syed Ali Rizvi, Prashanth Palakurthi, Anuradha Palakurthi, Revathy Ramakrishna and Ramakrishna Raju

Vivek Sharma and Vandana Sharma, and Prashanth Palakurthi and Anuradha Palakurthi were acknowledged with plaques of appreciation for being Grand Sponsors of the event and supporting a Vision-Aid Center in 2018. Puran Dang and Kamlesh Dang released a new book “Job Hunting for the Visually Impaired” published by Vision-Aid in 2018.  Subu Kota also pledged his support as a Grand Sponsor for the Event.

From Left to Right: Praveen Misra, Syed Ali Rizvi, Subu Kota and Ram Raju.

Brenda Cole, Vice-President of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, a Platinum Sponsor of the event, appreciated the work of Vision-Aid and urged the attendees to engage with the cause.

The Vision-Aid team comprising of Chair Puran Dang, President Syed Ali Rizvi, Founder Ramakrishna Raju, VP and Co-Founder Revathy Ramakrishna, Treasurer Sudhir Varma and board members Paramesh Garimella, Dr. Bharti Nihalani, Ujwala Phene, Dr. Aparna Raghuram, Ravi Rastogi, Alihusain Sirohiwala, Rita Vachani, and Santosh Vempala, along with a large and growing team of volunteers who run its various programs here and in India.

After the event Mr. Dang said “I am bathing in the sunshine of our success. It is all because of your sincere efforts. No words to thank you enough.”

President Syed Ali Rizvi said: “This was a brilliantly conceived, produced and choreographed Broadway style depiction of the story of the generous Karna”…… and it was truly an international collaboration with Mr. Ramachandran Muralidaran from India, the main “architect”, with two of his disciples, Rajesh Chenthy from Canada joining in and his daughter Kavya Muralidaran from India and working with Boston based co-producers, senior dance teachers and student dancers, in creating this unique show. We thank our chief guests, Venkat Srinivasan and Pratima Srinivasan for their strong message and support. The support from all quarters was overwhelming—-from individual to institutionalized donors, to volunteers.”

Right to Left: Kamlesh Dang, Puran Dang and Syed Ali Rizvi.

This year Vision-Aid had a silent art auction in which, a painting by a high schooler, Nithya Jonnavithula, fetched a record price, thanks to local philanthropist and art connoisseur Subu Kota, Mr. Rizvi said.

“The Executive and the advisory board at Vision-Aid is so grateful as we need this support to reach-out to as many visually impaired as we can, spread across USA and India. We are partnering with Arvind Eye Hospitals in India and creating one-of-a-kind National Resource Centers for the Visually Impaired. Hopefully, we will be able to extend our offerings to those who need it in other countries,” said Mr. Rizvi.

Founder Ramakrishna Raju expressed his gratitude to the generous donors who helped Vision-Aid set a new fund-raising record this year.

“We are ready to immediately put the funds raised to work for the visually impaired. On their behalf our big thanks to all supporters” said Mr. Raju.

He also expressed appreciation for the strong turnout at the event by several key community members.

Vision-Aid Board Members

The concept and choreography for this production is by Madurai R. Muralidaran of Chennai, India, a renowned dance choreographer who has won critical acclaim for his creations in Bharatanatyam. He has over 300 compositions to his credit, including his most recent Boston productions, Krishna (2009), Justice of the Anklet (2010), Slaying of the Demons (2012), The Dancer’s Pledge (2014), and The Iconic Avatar (2016) and Charmer, Warrior, Guide (2017) which still has audiences in Boston talking.

The producer is ably supported by co-producers Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Sujatha Meyyappan, Sripriya Natarajan Moorthy, Thenu Rajan and Hema Iyengar who have presented many unique productions including Krishna, Justice of the Anklet, Navrasa Nayika, and Nine Pathways to Devotion, The Dancer’s Pledge, and others. The co-producers are joined by over 50 amazing dancers from the Greater Boston area including senior teachers like Kalpana Balachundhar, Sheethal Dwaraka, Ranjani Saigal.

Co-Founder and VP Revathy Ramakrishna concluded the event by warmly inviting audiences to mark their calendars for the 2019 event which is to be held on July 21, 2019. These shows have now become a signature event on the Boston calendar each summer. She also thanked the supportive audience, the volunteers and parents of the Dancers, Saravanan Meyyappan of Kolam Media Creations for Videography and Brochure as well as Jeyakumar Sathyamurthy for Photography as well as Littleton High School staff for their support in staging the Vision-Aid productions.

Before closing the event, Vision-Aid also gratefully acknowledged the contributions of 4 outstanding dancers as Vision-Aid Ambassadors in appreciation of their help with fundraising – Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Varshini Arumugam, Adhithi Venkatesan and Pavithra Balachundhur.

The event was held on July 22 at Littleton High School in Littleton, MA.

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