Community well-being meets collective action at SKN Gala

A Special Need Kids (SCOPE) dance being performed at the SKN 2017 Gala.
A Special Need Kids (SCOPE) dance being performed at the SKN 2017 Gala.

The 5th Annual SKN Hope Gala 2019 will be held at The Imperia in Somerset, NJ, on September 22, 2019.

Pursuing the American dream can be all consuming. While parents are pursuing hectic careers and entrepreneurial ambitions, young kids are busy excelling academically and honing themselves to be “well-rounded personalities.” However, it takes a small group of people to extend themselves and travel outside the usual trajectory to take on issues beyond their own.

It is this group of dedicated individuals and outliers who are behind the 5th Annual SKN Hope Gala 2019 to be held on Sunday, September 22, 2019, at The Imperia in Somerset, NJ.

“I see my own betterment in the process of helping others. I am gaining more than what I am giving,” says Sunil Bagaria, President of GDB International and Trustee of SKN Foundation. Bagaria, his brother Sanjeev Bagaria, CEO of GDB and trustee of SKN, and the entire team of GDB International have been providing steadfast support to the cause.

ALSO READ: SKN Foundation: Impacting the community, one family at a time (August 1, 2017)

The gala will put the focus on two unique programs benefiting the community in different but valuable ways. Through SCOPE, SKN is hoping to expand its current outreach and support to include a larger group of South Asian Families of children with special needs while reducing the feeling of isolation. SKN Foundation Founder and Trustee Naveen Mehrotra, MD, MPH, a clinical assistant professor at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, says inclusion of special needs children is an invaluable key to the success of these children.

The second area that will benefit from the funds raised is the South Asian Diabetes Education and Resource Center a comprehensive prevention program with academic, clinical and community support. The SKN Foundation and the Saint Peter’s Healthcare System have partnered to execute this program.

The program develops awareness and outreach programs on various chronic illnesses, beginning with a diabetes risk assessment in the South Asian community; facilitates access to early detection, self-management and care programs at the South Asian Institute at Saint Peter’s.

ALSO READ: Annual SKN Gala spotlights South Asian children with special needs (August 31, 2017)

“The SKN resource center is designed to enhance culturally appropriate care to South Asians in New Jersey,” says Dr. Naveen Mehrotrad, adding, “which is an ongoing need within this community. Disease among South Asians is greatly influenced by genetics and cultural beliefs, each of which can be addressed to positively affect health outcomes through research, education and promotion of equitable patient care.”

Saint Peter’s Thyroid and Diabetes Center, now enhanced by SKN resources, offers early screening with a focus on prevention, comprehensive consultation and management, specialized care for women, diabetes self-management education, nutritional guidance specific to South Asian diet and South Asian support groups. The center’s Director and a key advisor to SKN Foundation, Dr. Meena Murthy notes: “South Asians residing in the US have the highest burden of diabetes with the prevalence reaching up to 25% in this population, the highest of any ethnic group in USA. A silent killer, diabetes leads to premature disability and death.” Murthy added: “At the Saint Peter’s South Asian Institute we meet the unique health challenges faced by the South Asian people. Our holistic approach is based on respect for the patient’s cultural background, spiritual needs and healthcare values.”

“While the purpose of the evening is significant and very meaningful, we want to make sure it is a fun and memorable evening for the attendees,” says Sonalika Ahuja, who is orchestrating the event. She is a seasoned organizer and planner with many successful events and accolades in her entrepreneurial career.

Los Angeles-based comedian and host Rajiv Satyal will emcee the evening. His TV-clean act has made him one of the most versatile comedians working today. While Rajiv will regale the audience, singer Avanti Nagral will weave her musical magic for the evening. She has a background in Indian Classical, Broadway, Church/Gospel, and devotional music. She is the first in the world to pursue a dual degree at both Harvard University and Berklee College of Music.

A youth icon, symbol for powerful women, and a veteran live performer, Nagral has performed at venues across India, the United States, and Southeast Asia, and captures the hearts of her audiences wherever she goes.

A special fashion show by Joy Mitra a renowned fashion designer from India will put the spotlight on the amazing special children and their dads. Joy graduated in Fashion Design from NIFT Kolkata in 2000, and has worked with worked with designers Ritu Beri and now hugely successful Bollywood costume designer, Aki Narula.

Thanks to the selfless involvement of volunteers and community leaders, SKN Foundation is poised to continue to make an impact on the community and the gala is one of its most visible vehicles to do so.

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