Posted on August 18, 2015 |
Despite being the third leading cause of death in the U.S., COPD is still unknown to many people. Bhavya Malladi and her grandfather, Evani RJ Rao, were among those people when he was diagnosed with COPD in October 2012. Upon his diagnosis, the lack of awareness and knowledge of such a devastating disease shocked Bhavya. She has since made it her mission to educate people around her so that no one else she loved would have to suffer the way her grandfather has.
Evani, 70, spent his life working as a hydro-geologist in India, and was exposed to dust from open field drilling. Although he quit smoking at the age of 53, Bhavya attributes the toxic fumes from his job and 20 years of smoking to her grandfather’s diagnosis. Within a year of being diagnosed, his condition drastically worsened. Bhavya lives in California, and her grandfather in India, but long phone calls with him have unfortunately become a thing of the past because talking for a long period of time is too exhausting for him.
A fond memory she holds of Evani are long walks with him and her brother to a local candy store in India where they would buy their favorite chocolates and candies. They would walk back home while listening to him tell stories of India. As the years have progressed, this tradition has become impossible for Evani.
Seeing this debilitating disease progress so rapidly, Bhavya began to ask herself, “Why is it still so unfamiliar to people?” Bhavya has decided to honor her grandfather by making a difference.
“Never underestimate the difference you can make. Remember, even a tiny drop can make ripples,” she says.
When her Rangapravesam, an Indian classical solo dance debut, approached, she decided to make a ripple. (Bhavya has been learning an Indian Classical dance form called Kuchipudi since she’s been five. Rangapravesam is an event when the teacher introduces the student to a bigger audience. This event is a student’s solo repertoire two hours long, with a live orchestra.)
In lieu of flowers and gifts for her performance, she asked her guests to donate to the COPD Foundation. She included a small pamphlet in her invitations, and also set up an information booth with COPD brochures for the 500+ attendees. This was her opportunity to spread awareness in her own way.
Bhavya’s ultimate goal was “to spread the word about this disease, so people know about it and take care of it in its early stages,” something they could not do for her grandfather.
She raised $3,428 for the COPD Foundation’s efforts to spread awareness, educate members of the community, and to one day find a cure.
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