MISSISSAUGA: Amar Karma Health and Wellness Awareness Network held their 8th annual Give A Heart Gala on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the Apollo Convention Centre in Mississauga.
The event was the culmination of months of hard work by a team of dedicated volunteers and youth advocates celebrating Valentine’s Day by proving you can give a heart – literally.
Every year, GTA youth gather to celebrate Amar Karma’s mandate by encouraging members of the South Asian community to change pre-existing cultural mindsets and sign up to be organ donor, make a pledge to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood after delivery, donate hair and blood where possible, and making some simple gestures of giving from themselves to celebrate love.
Like every year, the Special Sixteen segment featured many would-be donors pledg ing to donate their organs and tissues by signing up on the occasion of their sixteenth birthday, and inspiring next year’s batch of ‘special sixteens’.
Youth advocates gathered on stage to promote awareness of various ways to give and this year advocates ranged from the first grade to university students.
Radhika Goyal spoke of the need for hair donation, Jiya Kaur for blood donation, Gaurav Marok for mental health, Jagveer Saroey for rejecting drugs, Nandini Sharma and Ram for eye donation, Gurwinder ‘Harry’ Pabla for organ and tissue donation, Vardaan Gupta for living kidney donation, as well as Bharat Batra and Sonam Kapur for cord blood donation.
The event also honoured Gurwinder ‘Harry’ Pabla as volunteer of the year for logging hundreds of hours as a volunteer for the organization and leading the Special Sixteen Segments in his time with the group since 2012.
Also honoured as volunteers were Navneet Singh for excellency in project coordination, and Sheela Samy for dedication to Karma.
The event featured speakers from across the healthcare spectrum to raise awareness of health and wellness initiatives by Amar Karma, including Dr. Nazish Ahmed, representing the Cells for Life Cord Blood Institute, Dr. Istvan Mucsi, transplant nephrologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto, Dr. Amanpreet Taggar, from the Sunnybrook Department of Radiation Oncology, and Jane Virro from the Victoria Angel Registry of Hope.
The gala was attended by dignitaries from across the GTA, including MP Ramesh Sangha, who presented Amar Karma with an official certificate of appreciation, and MPP Amrit Mangat, who paid tribute to Amar Karma founder Loveen Gill for being honoured with the 2018 Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship.
Other elected officials in attendance to distribute awards included MP Iqra Khalid, MPP Harinder Malhi, Brampton councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, and PDSB trustee Harkirat Singh, all of whom took a moment to laud the efforts of Amar Karma and their contribution to the community.
The gala also featured special cultural performances, family fun, raffle prizes, dinner and dancing, and set a precedent for a lasting commitment for years to come. For more information, visit amarkarma.org