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Take a Step for Cyclone Gabrielle – Walkathon 2023, Auckland, New Zealand

Under the unifying theme of “Take a Step for Cyclone Gabrielle – Together Let’s Rebuild Our Communities,” BAPS Charities hosted the National BAPS Charities Walkathon on the 7th of May, 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand. The event aimed to galvanise communal support and raise funds for those adversely affected by Cyclone Gabrielle in Hawkes Bay. Demonstrating the strength of unity and shared responsibility, over 700 participants, ranging from 2 to 70 years old, walked in solidarity. They collectively achieved over 4 million steps for Cyclone Gabrielle, symbolising their commitment to the cause—the combined efforts culminated in raising a remarkable $40,000.

Notable guests who attended this community event included Honourable Michael Wood, Honourable Dr Deborah Russell, Honourable Duncan Webb, Mellissa Lee MP, Cambell Barry Mayor, Kanwaljit Bakshi, Karen Chhour MP, Sharn Piper, Greg Fleming MP, Carlos Cheung MP; these distinguished individuals took the opportunity to express their admiration for the work done by BAPS Charities and the impact of the walkathon on the community.

Hon. Michael Wood, Immigration and Transport Minister, commended the leadership of BAPS Charities, stating that they “continue to do really beautiful work within our communities.” He further highlighted the organisation’s dedication to helping others in need and providing a place of contemplation and connection. Dr Deborah Russell, a Minister for the Labour Party, expressed her appreciation for the BAPS community, stating it is “a loving and caring community that always tries to do something to help those in need.” She acknowledged the importance of collective efforts, adding that “just a little bit from everyone, step by step, one by one, adding it all together, achieves a big result.”

Melissa Lee, National Party MP, praised the community spirit exemplified by BAPS Charities during the Auckland floods and cyclone. She emphasised BAPS Charities’ inspiration to her and others, saying, “You inspire me… you inspire all of us to do better for our community.” She also expressed hope that the values taught by BAPS would help shape a bright future for New Zealand.

Sharn Piper, CEO of Attain, reflecting on the BAPS Charities, identified the concept of ‘seva’ as a defining characteristic of BAPS’s work. He explained that ‘seva’ is “service without thought of your own, service where you are no longer important, but the other person is more important, service without wanting something back.” Highlighting the effects of performing such seva, Campbell Barry, Mayor of Lower Hutt, expressed his gratitude towards the BAPS community for their fundraising efforts, stating that “BAPS has continued to make a fantastic difference to groups, organisations, and people in need across New Zealand. We are fortunate to have you here across our communities in Aotearoa, New Zealand.”

The nationwide BAPS Charities walkathon is a testament to the power of community collaboration and the willingness of individuals to come together for a noble cause. The funds raised will be distributed to families in Hawkes Bay, working with a few charities on the ground to provide much-needed relief to those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The success of the walkathon underscores the significance of each step taken towards a good cause. Just as numerous threads woven together create a strong fabric, every step taken by the National BAPS Charities Walkathon participants will lead to meaningful change in the lives of those in need. This event generated essential funds for Cyclone Gabrielle’s relief and served as a powerful reminder of the importance of unity and compassion in times of adversity.