S.Surinderjit Singh with a large team of enthusiastic volunteers
Sikhs of Los Angeles (SOLA) comprised of Sikh Americans from several different areas and connected to various Gurdwaras of greater LA. SOLA has been regularly participating by manning the water stations since 2002.
Initiated by S. Hardeep Singh and S.Resham Singh who started the sewa at the Los Angeles Annual Marathon (LAM) back in 2002; the current sewadars are S. Prem Singh, S. Sarbjit Singh S. Amarjit Singh, S. Surinderjit Singh, S. Jaspreet Singh, S. Harinder Singh, S. Kaviraj Singh, S. Jasneet Kaur and S. Iqbal Singh.
S Prem Singh and their many colleagues have been regularly doing sewa at the several of the water stations on the route of the marathon for the last 17 years.
The Los Angeles Marathon (LAM) was first started in 1986 but Sikhs of the greater LA area started participating in 2002, shortly after the NY City twin tower attack. Since Sikhs became victims of misidentification, the Sikhs of Los Angeles (SOLA) realized and decided to serve water at the LAM course in order to educate and bring about more awareness regarding the Sikhs and their identity.
S.Prem Singh with family, friends and other sewadars at the LAM
The SOLA got approved by the LAM organization to manage a water station (WS) # 13 at the mile 13 in 2002. The SOLA sewadars worked hard and did a great job of handling the logistics with a smile. By persevering they managed to incrementally add more water stations (WS) over the years, eventually getting 9 WS out of the total of 25 WS.
Due to the wonderful effort by all the Sikh American sewadars in the last 17 years, today runners are very familiar with Sikhs and openly acknowledge them by thanking them by saying, “Shukria”! Some even say “Wahe Guruji Ka Khalsa! Wahe Guruji Ki Fateh!
So much so, one German runner paused for a snack and said, “If Sikhs were not there who would do the volunteer work. Really, I saw the turbans serving on most of the WS till I reached here, Mile 14.”
SOLA tries to get 20 or more Sikhs on every one of their WS, with well over a 100 helping.
In addition to the water, SOLA on their own serve hard candy, pretzels, oranges, etc., to refresh the runners in addition to the water/liquids.
S.Surinderjit Singh and his colleagues doing sewa
Not only are there runners from across the nation but also international runners participate with over 25,000 visitors who are appreciative of the volunteer service provided by the Sikh Americans of the greater Los Angeles area through SOLA.
Sikh American runners and sewadars
This annual sewa has not only garnered the attention but also the goodwill of the general public over the years. The American Sikh Council applauds all these sewadars who have put in their sincere effort to highlight the Sikh Faith and identity through the message of sewa in action to the general public.