Reaching for the skies for Pratham
Last year on his 75th birthday, long-time Pratham supporter from Dallas, Yogi Patel pledged to raise $1 million for children’s education and promised to skydive upon reaching his ambitious goal. On Sunday, November 7th 2021, he not only reached that goal but also fulfilled his promise to skydive!
Yogi has been a passionate volunteer and supporter of Pratham for over two decades having served as a past president of Pratham USA and currently serving on the board of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter. He has also travelled extensively across the US to persuade, convince and recruit many to become donors and long-term members of the Pratham family.
Yogi comes from humble beginnings in Gujarat, India. His brothers, sisters and he were raised by their illiterate father. His two sisters had to drop out from primary school to become surrogate moms for the four brothers. Yogi was encouraged to pursue his education and came to the US on a scholarship to study chemical engineering at Oklahoma State University. It was the support and kindness of many that helped him in his journey to the US – something that Yogi cherishes. It is one of the reasons he is committed to paying it forward.
Yogi worked as a reservoir engineer for twenty years and ran a hotel business serving indigent cancer patients at MD Anderson for fifteen years. After retiring in 2005, he moved to Dallas. He is passionate about Pratham’s mission and attributes his own success to the power of education. He strongly believes in giving back by providing opportunities to the children and youth in India.
Eleven fundraisers including his 17-year-old grand-daughter, Isha, and his 86-year-old sister, Gunvanti-ben joined his team of “Yogi’s Angels.” Divya Walia, one of the fundraisers, said Yogi’s powerful message convinced her to join his campaign: “the fear of millions of children losing access to education is far greater than [the] fear of jumping out of a plane.”
An extreme fear of heights did not deter Yogi from literally “reaching for the skies.” He said the skydiving experience “felt like visiting heaven and coming back to earth” and he expressed gratitude to everyone who supported his campaign. Yogi’s family and supporters from the Pratham Dallas-Fort Worth chapter gathered at the skydiving facility to cheer him on. Sejal Patel, Hemant Patel and Nirav Desai from the Dallas area also joined Yogi in skydiving and bolstered his confidence.
Pratham supporters from across the country have shown their appreciation and admiration for Yogi’s incredible feat.
When asked what’s next for Yogi, he said “I have already paid for the next skydive! I believe that a child needs to be in school and learning, not working on a farm or in a factory. This resonates with most people and they are likely to support Pratham’s work.”
Watch Yogi skydive here.
Support Yogi’s campaign at this link.