Bengaluru: Bike riders of different riding (biking) clubs of Bengaluru got together on a Sunday morning in a one-of-its kind initiative by Sightsavers. The 280 Miles a Gallon campaign was the brainchild of Sightsavers, a development organisation that works to eliminate avoidable blindness and promotes equal opportunities for disabled people. The event was an amalgamation of fun and the people of the city rooting for a social cause.
Children in the age group of 5-15 years are susceptible to eye ailments if proper care and attention is not paid. This particularly holds true for kids belonging to the economically weaker strata and the rural population. It is estimated that 4.9 million children require spectacles in India (based on a study of refractive error in rural children; 2014). In the country, approximately 80% of children are deprived of benefits in quality eye health services.
The awareness campaign witnessed participation from leading biking clubs of the city. The one-way 80km ride from Freedom Park to Highway Star, Kolar witnessed an unparalleled camaraderie between the bikers. “People were riding in tandem. We could all see the riding instinct and brotherhood kicking-in. The solidarity was unmatched as all of us felt happy to be responsible for a cause. At the end of the day, it is not about how much money you earn, but how you can give back to society along with having a bit of fun. In fact, a rider belonging to my club Highwaymen chose to contribute even though he couldn’t make it here,” said Kaushik Vastare, founder Highwaymen Moto-biking club.
Some of the clubs that joined in were Thumpers United, CVS Motors, Bangalore Bullet Club, Bangalore Offroad Drivers Association (Jeep Club), Highwaymen among others. Octogenarian rider R Chakravarthy was also present at the venue as Guest of Honour along with the reknown Social Cause Traveller Mr. Anil Srivastav to support the riders. The 84-year old Bangalorean, feels that age is just a number. Interestingly, the bike rally had female participants too. One of the female rider, was quite kicked about riding along with the boys. She quoted , “I was extremely happy for being able to create awareness about eye care that too for children. It was a gratifying and an extremely fun ride. One of the best rides of my life.” A fusion band performance by Carnatic Blues kept the energy levels of the bikers high. The riders ate a hearty breakfast from Maiyas to refuel and recharge. Several volunteers joined us to ensure the bike rally was a huge success. These included photographers and videographers like Dhivya Raghuraman and Srikanth Mantha who captured all the on-ground action.
Children in four states would benefit from the proceeds and awareness campaign where Sightsavers runs its Vidyajyoti programme. Students in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan would be grateful to the Bengaluru bikers.
“Sightsavers’ School Eye Health Programme – Vidyajyoti, aims to check avoidable blindness at an early stage. Regular eye screening camps for refractive errors, eye care services for students, training teachers and local health staff on various aspects of preventive eye care is at the core of our School Eye Health Programme,” said RN Mohanty, CEO, Sightsavers (India).