Several strides for the city's runners could mean several leaps for the city's disadvantaged. When hundreds of runners assemble at the start line of the Mumbai marathon on Sunday, they will not be running for themselves alone.
From education to health to gender, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) registered for the Mumbai marathon espouse multiple causes but the platform is the same. And it is a platform that has been growing every year in terms of the money collected and donated to charities.
Muktangan, which helps run seven civic schools in the city, collected around Rs65 lakh last year, which was pumped into various educational programmes and helped defray the costs of running these schools. This year, Muktangan has hopes to raise Rs76 lakh.
"The marathon has given NGOs a platform that was never there before," said Usha Laxman, director, resources, Muktangan. "It has even become a platform to help NGOs network among themselves."
The process of gathering money and getting corporate teams to support a cause could begin as early as March, when organisations send out information about themselves. The details then get worked out by June, when corporates decide which causes they would like to support.
The Forum for Autism, raised Rs2.5 lakh last year, which went to pay the school fees of autistic children from poorer families. This year, they hope to raise Rs5 lakh.
Society for Nutrition Education and Health Action (SNEHA), an organisation working on urban malnutrition, will participate in the marathon for the fourth time. Last year, the money raised went towards helping children survive in slums and towards programmes to tackle malnutrition.
For younger NGOs it is as much about fund raising as it is about showcasing their profile and creating awareness about their cause.
"We have decided to use the platform to show our presence," said Ritika Sahni, founder trustee of Trinayani, an organisation working to raise awareness about disabilities. This is the first year that Trinayani is participating in the marathon. Whatever money they do raise this year they plan to put into awareness workshops they will have with more than 600 civic schools in the city.
The number of NGOs participating has swelled, from 179 last year to 222 this year. At a press conference on Wednesday the organisers announced that the marathon had already raised Rs12.2 crore and that they were likely to raise around Rs 14 crore by the time the event is over.