A minuscule measure of the greatness of this man can be understood from the fact that he was the first batsman to score 10,000 runs in an era when most of the teams had extremely fast bowlers who could bowl 90 miles or more even on a bad day. The man in fame here – Mr. Sunil Gavaskar. Nicknamed ‘Little Master’ of India for his extraordinary batting skills, Gavaskar was no less than the God of Cricket for millions of his fans during the 70s. And now, more than 30 years after retiring as a professional sportsperson, this legendary cricketer is touring the United States where he’s proving to be a champ in winning support to save lives of children with congenital heart disease (CHD).
India Remains The World’s Capital For CHD
With more than 300,000 children born with CHD every single year, India continues to be the world capital for CHD. Sadly, over 250 children die every single day due to Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) and these deaths can be largely attributed to the absence of medical/surgical care, skilled pediatric care, and financial constraints faced by economically challenged families. Only a small segment of children with CHD can afford cardiac surgery, which can cost over $100,000 in the US.
Heart to Heart (H2H) Foundation
Dedicated to saving the lives of children born with CHD, Heart to Heart (H2H) Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to breaking the rancorous “health-poverty cycle” for the rural poor in India and other countries. Mr. Gavaskar is the chairman of the Board of Governors for this foundation.
This foundation provides FREE pediatric cardiac surgeries in collaboration with the group of Sanjeevani Hospitals in India. These hospitals have been providing free-of-cost primary, secondary, and tertiary health care exclusively to kids with CHD since 2014. Highly skilled, all-inclusive, and empathetic care is given to all the patients, and their families receive free housing and free food. One of the most interesting things, there is no payment/billing counter located in these hospitals.
Heart to Heart (H2H) Foundation, is supporting over 600 heart surgeries for underprivileged children in India. All these surgeries will be done by the Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals in India. Interestingly, these hospitals recently completed the milestone of performing over 10,000 surgeries since 2012, and all these were done free of cost. Out of these, 400 surgeries were funded by the H2H Foundation in a short span of 6 months, including ‘34’ surgeries solely funded by the legendary Gavaskar a number that matches his ‘34 test centuries’.
The ‘Bat-for-Life’ Tour
Last month, “Freedom from CHD” initiative was launched by the H2H Foundation to spread awareness and participation for free heart surgeries. It started with the multi-city tour titled “Bat-for-Life”. What is at the heart of this tour is a noble cause to give hope where the future is now bleak. All proceeds from the event will go towards Heart to Heart Foundation to help transform the health of under-served children in India with congenital heart conditions.
We know, dependability went by this name when he was on the field, and grit and guts had a brand-new persona. Sunil Gavaskar, is now a hero of hope for an entire generation, as he touring all across the USA to raise awareness and participation to support the cause. With Gavaskar, as its premier spokesperson, H2H Foundation is drawing international attention to an astounding but under-reported escalation in congenital heart disease around the world.
“Bat-For-Life” gathered amazing response across New Jersey, Atalanta, Fermont California, Milpitas – San Fransisco and the latest gathering in Chicago that took place early this week.
Inspiring Others To Join His Cause
At an active and fit 70 years old, Gavaskar stood for hours at a time, pleasant and energetic, greeting hundreds of fans with a smile, signing autographs, shaking hands, posing for photographs and listening to others recount his sporting highlights. Along with hundreds making small donations, few fans contributed at least $1,200 each, enough to save one child’s life.
Being an inspiration for millions, Gavaskar stood strong and urged people to join his cause at this early stage. He said,
“This cause resonates with me because I do see that if we can give the gift of life to a child, the child can go on and fulfill not just his potential, but the aspirations and dreams of his family, his parents and his relatives and maybe contribute enormously to the nation”