I remember I was very young when my brother, Rajan, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He was about five and I was eight. I didn’t completely understand what was going on, but I have some faint memories of my parents being devastated, I mean, who wouldn’t be? A few years later, when I had started the seventh grade, I did some research on the disease for a class project. The information completely shocked me, I wanted to stop reading, but I just couldn’t. Tears filled my eyes, and I didn’t know what to do. All my life I knew something was wrong with my brother, but it really didn’t hit me until then.
For the next few months, I never really got over what I had read on the Internet. It’s like, this was the moment where my childhood ended. Reality just hit me, and even though I went through every day like it was normal, the effects of Duchenne muscular dystrophy on children were always sitting in the back of my head. So many thoughts were running through my head: How can I help him? I don’t want to sit idly by; as his sister I feel like it’s my duty to help him fight any battle. Why is HE affected with it? He didn’t do anything wrong? Why is he the one suffering? Well, I was about to get the answers to these questions real soon.
As an Indian, your parents sort of expect you to become something with a "prestigious" title. By this, I mean a doctor, lawyer, surgeon ... You know what I mean. Well, all throughout high school, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to help Rajan and all the other children affected with neuromuscular diseases, and I was dead set on doing research or becoming a doctor for MDA.
And then I went to college. That’s all I have to say. It’s a brand-new world full of opportunities, and you get a chance to find out your real purpose in life. Of course, the first semester of my freshman year I stuck by my word and still wanted to be on the pre-med path for my brother. Then second semester hit. Boy, what a semester. I had become miserable. I didn’t like the classes, and on top of that, I didn’t understand or want to understand anything in the classes. They’re right when they say you need to have a real passion to become a doctor. I did have a passion to help Rajan and MDA, but I was about to realize there are SO many other ways to do that.
First semester of sophomore year, I was still on my pre-med path, giving it another shot with my brother in mind. I still couldn’t do it. I was miserable, and I couldn’t imagine going through four more years of this. I had hit rock bottom, and I didn’t know what to do anymore. After many sleepless nights of thinking about my future, I had an idea.
My uncle once told me, ‘”Take your talents and with them, help make a difference in this world.” This is the first thought that came to my head. What was my talent? Dancing. I loved it. I breathed it. So I thought some more about how dancing could help me change the world. Suddenly, a crazy idea passed my mind. Well, I love planning things, surprise birthday parties, fun get-togethers, etc. Why not combine them? Make a fundraising show? I collected some more thoughts and ran it through some of my close friends and cousins. They’re all about my age, and they loved it. The adults, on the other hand, had little-to-no faith. They supported us of course, but they didn’t think we would be able to go through with the whole “producing a citywide talent show.” Not to brag, but one thing I love about me, is that if you challenge me, I will prove you wrong. And with this, I did prove them wrong.
In January 2010, the nonprofit group “The Inspiration” was born, and in August 2010, our first production “Flight for a Cure” took off. “Flight for a Cure” was a talent show based on talents from around the world. Our auditorium was an airplane, our emcee was our pilot, and we traveled around the world in one night seeing all the different talents in the world. Along with that, we raised $7,000 for MDA. That night, when I saw the hope in the children’s eyes, hope in my brother’s eyes, that was it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. This is the feeling I want to have for the rest of my life — to give hope to someone who needs it the most. It was the best feeling in the world and completely indescribable.
In 2011, we produced “‘The Elements of Dance” and raised more than $5,000 for MDA. And now in 2012, we’re about to see our third annual production come to life. This has been our biggest production yet, and it’s called “Charlotte’s Best Dance Crew.” We’ve found six of the best dance teams in the state, and they’re all willing to help us fight for a cure. Hosted by the newly crowned Miss North Carolina 2012, guest performers will be Victoria VanDyke and Tamasha.
“The Inspiration” has come so far and will go farther. Currently, I am working with Clan Child Health to raise money for a Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Club for children in Vietnam. My mission with “The Inspiration” is to make it worldwide and help children in the U.S., as well as children in impoverished countries, cope with muscular dystrophy.
I can’t write down all the lessons that I’ve learned over the years with “The Inspiration,” but they’ve definitely made me realize my true passion to help others — not only me but my whole entire family as well. Because of Rajan, my entire family has become more religious and spiritual throughout the years which in turn helped us become better human beings.
Rajan is an angel in our family. He has taught us how to love everyone and anyone, how to keep moving on no matter how hard it gets, and how absolutely NOTHING can get in the way of your dreams. Not muscular dystrophy. Not ALS. Not cancer. Nothing. He has touched the hearts of so many people without even knowing it. Do you see Superman, Spider-Man, Batman out there and little kids wanting to be just like them? Well, Rajan is the superhero for us. We want to be just like him one day.
Rajan is starting UNC Charlotte in the fall of 2012, aspiring to graduate with a computer science degree. He is going to change the world one day, no doubt about it. He’s already changed Charlotte, North Carolina. Rajan has changed all of our lives for the better, so the least we can do is help him fight his battle, along with all the other children and families supported by MDA. They changed our lives, so we can change theirs.