This 37 year old man was on a mission for the last three months; a city based retailer and an international skater; Rana Uppalapati brings the professionalism of business and sports into social service.
Nearly ten months ago, Titan’s business associate, Rana Uppalapati approached his colleagues with a plan. Soon enough, the marathon skater won the watch company’s support and launched the ‘ECHO’ initiative. ECHO or Educate to Carry Her On. Rana hoped to raise funds to send 25,000 girls to school by skating the 6,000 km Indian Golden Quadrilateral.
A few moments before gliding on his roller skates in Hosur, Karnataka, Rana thought those very words at the flag-off. “I knew I had to complete this journey on skates for the next 90 days.” “There are plenty of runners, walkers and cyclists who support causes. But I chose skating because it was never done before,” he says.
Persona v/s cause
This champion for girl’s education initially feared that people would favour his popularity as a skater over his initiative.
Entering the Guinness World Records was another feat which he says was never on his agenda. “I logged my travels everyday – to have evidence through videos, voice and GPS logs. The idea was to prove that it was done in the right spirit – not just to make or break records,” he says.
“In 2016 when I was associated with Pinkathon I skated from Vizag to Chennai and participated in the Berlin marathon too. At both events, I felt the attention was going to the sport and the skater more than the cause,” he recalls. “Even though I respect the sport, in this journey, I am unbiased.”
“The awareness is not about skating as a sport. It is only a means to achieve my objectives. The entire focus now is on the cause. I agree, there is a danger of the message getting lost but the girl child is the hero of the campaign. Perceptions will vary but becoming famous is not my mission,” he clarifies.
Awareness wasn’t only for the privileged lot but also for the girls to seek inspiration from Rana’s efforts. “Feedback from NGOS said the children I met on my journey enjoyed my talks. I didn’t teach them. I told them stories instead. I showed my skating skills which helped break the ice with the kids.”
“I wanted to capture their imagination and inspire these girls to pick up something impossible and do it!” he shares.
The ones who do
Claiming to find a method to the madness Rana measured his success through witty showmanship at his awareness sessions. “The number of people who turned up at these sessions validated my efforts. And, as the face of the cause I had to do justice to it.”
“I deal with two very serious topics – girls’ education and their safety. I use all my skills as a skater, writer and a host to get the message across in the most engaging ways,” he says.
Through sessions in major cities along his route, Rana often encouraged his contemporaries and listeners to take up a cause and use their own methods to solve social crises.
“Anything done to benefit women is a good change we need today – I hope people see through my tactic that men can support a cause for girls and women. Instead of preaching I chose an alternative way of telling people to not do the unsavoury things we hear in the news,” the activist skater says.