Ten states, 6,000 kilometres, 25 motorcycles ' there is no stopping a bunch of 53 young crusaders, who have embarked on a nation-wide campaign to rally for blood donation.
Vivek Rally, an attempt by a group of youngsters inspired by youth icon Swami Vivekananda to promote the benefits of blood donation, zoomed into coal capital Dhanbad on Wednesday night amid huge cheers from residents who had gathered in dozens to witness the bike gang roll in.
The campaign on wheels ' that started from Sutarkandi on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam on January 1 ' is being organised by the Federation of Blood Donor Organisation of India in collaboration with Barak Valley Voluntary Blood Donors' Forum, Assam; Barasat Municipality, Bengal and the West Bengal Voluntary Blood Donors' Forum.
The bikers entered Dhanbad through the Topchanchi side after which the district deputy commissioner hosted them to dinner at the Dhanbad Club with 120 district Red Cross Society members.
On Thursday, DC Kumar again felicitated all the members of the rally at the Red Cross Society's office in the presence of a host of dignitaries that included the likes of district tuberculosis control officer P.K. Bhagat and co-ordinator of voluntary blood donations of Red Cross Society Mohammed Alauddin.
Addressing a gathering after the felicitation, Kumar said the enthusiasm and spirit of the bikers who had braved odds to spread awareness was admirable.
"Awareness is the key to motivation and these people have travelled more than 6,000km to reach out to the masses. During the rally they have stopped at various places to hold seminars and plays that were aimed at dispelling myths and confusions regarding blood donations," Kumar said.
Speaking to The Telegraph later, leader of the bikers Apurba Ghosh ' who has donated blood 98 times till date ' said the rally was a tribute to Swami Vivekananda, the youth icon.
"We campaigned at Jamshedpur and Ranchi on January 14 and 15 after which we made our way to Patna in Bihar (January 16) and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh (January 17). The support that we have got till now has been tremendous," Ghosh claimed.
He added that they started from Sutarkandi in south Assam and travelled to Silchar, Haflong, Lumdin, Nagaon and Guwahati before arriving at Siliguri in Bengal on January 9. After touring places like Malda, Bahrampur, Barrackpore, Sodepur, and Midnapore in Bengal for five days, they set off for Jharkhand.
"The majority of states covered during our rally had a poor track record in blood donation, something we hoped to change through our awareness campaigns," Ghosh said.
En route to Wagah border, the bikers have or will traverse through 11 states ' Assam, Meghalaya, Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab and Rajasthan ' and cut across 150 cities to spread awareness.