Crossing the Finish Line, Putting Children First

November 10, 2014

Mr. Anand Sridharan ran in this year's New York Marathon, raising an extraordinary $5,080 for the world's most vulnerable children.

My wife and I first decided to run the New York City Marathon after watching our brother finish the race in 2010.  Since then, it’s been a long journey to get to the finish line.  After running nine qualifying races in 2011, the 2012 marathon was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.  And last year, I started the race but had an ankle injury that forced me to stop at mile 16.  While I had a lot of personal reasons to finish what I started this year, I also recognized that the marathon is bigger than any individual achievement.

I was drawn to raise money for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF because of my experiences as a  public health professional.   My career has taken me to some of the most resource-poor settings  in the world, from Zambia to South Sudan.  The most agonizing aspect of my work is seeing  how poverty, weak systems, and a lack of basic services affect the most vulnerable members of  society – children.   Once I decided to use my marathon journey as a vehicle for good, choosing  the U.S. Fund as my charity was an easy decision based on UNICEF’s excellent track record when it comes to impact and efficiency.

Anand's supporters cheering him on

Raising $3,500 seemed like a daunting task, but I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends and family.  To reach my goal, I simply sent regular emails to my contacts asking for their help.  I also included information about UNICEF’s work around the world and updates on my training progress.  Needless to say, I was overjoyed when I discovered I had raised $5,080 by the fundraising deadline.

Race day was both literally and figuratively a whirlwind.  After spending the morning with my fellow Team UNICEF runners in the charity village, I started the 26.2 mile course battling through brutally windy and cold conditions.  Though I felt good through the first half of the race, the weather started to take its toll on my body on the 59th Street Bridge, the same place where I decided to drop out of the race last year.  But this year, I knew that nothing was going to prevent me from getting to the finish line. I was injury-free, and I had the moral support of all my friends and family that had generously donated to my cause to propel me through the last 10 miles of the race.  I also had a small army of family members waiting for me in Harlem, which helped, too.

Crossing the finish line in Central Park was an amazing moment.  I had struggled through the last several miles and finished nowhere near my goal time, but I didn’t care.  I had finally achieved my dream of finishing the New York City Marathon!  And knowing that I was also able to do my small part in providing children with the clean water, food, medicines, vaccines, and protection they need to survive made it that much more special.