Community, Headline, Politics

Diwali gift: Indian Americans, under leadership of Danny Gaekwad, raise $100,000 for Florida Disaster Fund

Gov. Ron DeSantis with a check presented by entrepreneur Ocala, FL, Danny Gaekwad and his wife, Manisha, for the Florida Disaster Fund during a Diwali event hosted by the governor at his official mansion. Also seen are the two children of the couple, Kunal and Karan.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (center) with a check presented by Ocala, FL, entrepreneur Danny Gaekwad (second from right) and his wife, Manisha, for the Florida Disaster Fund during a Diwali event hosted by the governor at his official mansion in Tallahassee on October 26, 2022. Also seen are the two children of the couple, Kunal (left) and Karan.

The donation was announced at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Diwali event at the Governor’s Mansion.

Indian Americans in Florida, under the leadership of entrepreneur and prominent GOP donor Danny Gaekwad, has raised $100,000 for a hurricane disaster fund that provides support for those impacted by Hurricane Ian, which hit the state late last month.

The contribution was announced at a Diwali event hosted by Gov. Ron DeSantis for Indian Americans at the Florida Governor’s Mansion on Thursday, October 26, 2022.

After making an initial contribution, by presenting a check for $15,000 to the governor, Gaekwad exhorted those gathered to contribute to the Disaster Fund.

READ: Florida governor to celebrate Diwali at Governor’s Mansion on Oct 26 (October 25, 2022)

“I challenge everybody, you guys match, and we will match,” the Ocala, FL, hotelier and real estate developer said. “Let’s help our Floridians.”

Two other major donors were Ocala -based vascular surgeon Dr. Ravi Chandra and Tampa-area entrepreneur Vijay Patel. Each gave $25,000. Members of a local BAPS community also contributed $25,000.

The donations came after DeSantis said at an Indian American virtual event, hosted in his hometown by Gaekwad on October 20, that hoteliers from the community can be a big part of efforts to provide temporary housing to those who lost their home in the hurricane.

It was in response to a question by Gaekwad on how the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) and the Indian American business community can support his efforts in dealing with the hurricane recovery. Gaekwad is the governmental affairs committee chairman of AAHOA.

DeSantis said that Indian Americans also can contribute to the Florida Disaster Fund run by First Lady Casey DeSantis, an official private fund that provides financial assistance to communities responding to and recovering from emergencies and disasters.

READ: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hosts Diwali celebrations at Governor’s Mansion (November 11, 2019)

“That money has been used to help people who have been displaced. We started with police and fire. We are going to do stuff for teachers as well as the broader community,” the governor said at the time. “That is a way you can be helpful if you want to do the charitable angle.”

Ian, a Category 4 hurricane, was the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida in 87 years.

Gaekwad said DeSantis is doing a fantastic job in the aftermath of the hurricane.

“He stood by us, all businessmen, [during] Covid,” said the businessman. “We would have been out of business, like [those businesses] in New York and California. But he stood by us, with conviction.”

Second Diwali at the Governor’s Mansion

DeSantis lit up the diya, the ceremonial lamp, along with Danny and Manisha Gaekwad, after addressing the Diwali gathering, numbering around 150.

The governor said he was happy that he was able to host another Diwali at his official home.

“Welcome back to the Government’s Mansion,” he said. “When we took office in 2019, the State of Florida had never done, at the Governor’s Mansion, Diwali celebration. So, we instituted that in 2019. It was very successful. Everyone was very happy with that.”

The popular Republican, considered one of the frontrunners in the 2024 GOP presidential race, praised the contributions of the Indian American community.

“It is important not only to recognize Diwali, but to recognize all Indian Americans in Florida, who are really helping to power our states to heights we have never seen before,” he said. “In fact, in the last few years, we have led the country on issue after issue.”

He continued, “Clearly in the business community, clearly in the medical [and] so many different fields, you see Indian Americans doing really great things for the state of Florida. So, I just want to say we really appreciate those contributions in Florida very much.

DeSantis also spoke about the success of policies.

“So we want to make sure that people have the ability to make their own decisions to earn a living and be in business, kids going to school,” he said. “Now everyone acts like they agreed with me all the time…. At the end of the day, my job as a leader is to look out for the jobs of the people I represent, even if that puts my own job in jeopardy. It is not about your own political moment.”

One Comment

  1. Great work by local Indians, it’s wonderful to see this community supporting our Governor and his initiatives.

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