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Siddhartha Sengupta

Siddhartha was born in Salt Lake city in Kolkata in the year 1987. He attended Haryana Vidya Mandir for his schooling.

He was a chubby kid. His father would take him on 3K morning walks, enticing him with the reward of Jalebi and Frooti upon completion. He also enjoyed swimming occasionally.

His father works as a doctor while mother is a housewife. Sidd became more interested in photography after observing his uncle, who is a photographer.

When he entered 11th grade, he weighed 84 KG. To manage his weight, he enrolled in a gym, but had difficulty walking on a treadmill even for 10 minutes.

He pursued engineering in Computer Science from West Bengal University of Technology. His focus was on participating in Tech Fest and Cultural Fest events during college, with exercise taking a back seat.

At the insistence of his family, he altered his eating habits in his third year of engineering. He began walking 14 KM journey back home from college. After 8 months, he shed 12 KG, bringing his weight down to 72 KG.

He started working at TCS Trivandrum in 2009, marking his first time away from home. Within the initial 3 months, he lost 6 KG.

A few months later, he moved to Mumbai and his weight came back to the mid seventies.

His coworker was a fitness enthusiast. Together, they would ascend 11 floors to access the office gym, followed by a 45-minute run on the treadmill.

Thanks to his uncle, Sidd developed an interest for photography since childhood. He used to run to a new location in Mumbai, capture photos, and then hurry back home.

He traveled to the United Kingdom for an official visit. In 2013, he took part in the Sainsbury Charity Run and successfully finished his first official 5K run. The food, medal, and certificate made his debut run truly delightful.

After that, he signed up for a few 10K races. He considered those ones to be more of fun runs and collecting the medals as a memento felt priceless.

In 2014, he crossed paths with Pratik, who had a passion for running and hiking. Pratik extended an invitation to participate in a half marathon, prompting him to dedicate the following months to training for the upcoming race.

On the race day, he left pune at 12 AM to reach Thane for the 21K run. He drove and took his friends along with him to reach the venue. After a 30 minute short nap in the car, he went ahead for the race starting at 6 AM. Though it was manageable till the 15th kilometer, he struggled to complete the remaining distance.

Over the following six years, he participated in one or two half marathons annually.

In 2020, he had to resort to medication as his blood pressure level went up. With minimal workouts during the COVID lockdown, his weight significantly increased.

In Dec 2020, he managed to run TCS 10K in 58 min in spite of weighing 92 KG.

His uncle used to capture marathon events. Sidd stumbled upon the Kolkata Running Group through his uncle’s Facebook profile. He became a member of the group to prepare for future events, where Girish played a crucial role.

In Mar 2022, Sidd attempted his first full marathon. Despite hitting a wall at the 32 KM mark and feeling bloated from overhydration, he remained resolute to complete the race. Eventually he crossed the finish line after a grueling 5:02 HR.

He continued to struggle with his health and developed various health ailments related to kidney and cholesterol due to which he had to start medication.

But he found solace in running. In Aug 2022, he ran a HM in 1:54 HR.

He came across Runners 360 running group while browsing the internet. He contacted Shreyas Karnad to train for the upcoming Tata Mumbai Marathon 2023. He joined the group in Oct 2022 and started training under Coach Deepa Nayak.

Since then, he has shown significant progress in his running, achieving personal best timings as shown below.

10K – 39:57 MIN
Half Marathon – 1:27 HR
Full Marathon – 3:45 HR
Ultra Marathon (50K) – 4:34 HR

He has managed to reverse his Cholesterol and Kidney issues due to his exercise regimen and better eating habits. The blood pressure is also within the normal range. His journey exemplifies how maintaining an active lifestyle can significantly aid in reversing pre-existing health conditions.

Gold Dust

  • Having mastered the art of running half marathons and full marathons, Sidd wants to test his mettle by running ultras.
  • Message to upcoming runners: Consistency is key. By maintaining a regular routine, you will garner attention from people and receive valuable support from them to enhance your running performance.

If you liked the story, do share it with your family, friends and colleagues.

Soumendra Dash, Ultra Marathoner, Technology Expert, Travel Enthusiast

In accordance with popular folklore, the etymology of the name Angul traces back to a local chieftain named “Anu” who initiated a failed uprising against the King. The residents of the area dubbed this period as Anugol (Anu’s war), and over time, the name evolved into “Angul,” the title by which the town is recognized today.

Angul is home to NALCO, which owns Asia’s largest aluminum plant.

The city stands out not only as an industrial center but also as the location of the Satkosia Tiger Reserve. This reserve boasts diverse flora and fauna, drawing nature enthusiasts from around the globe.

Soumendra was born in this city in the year 1983. He is the middle child among three siblings. His father, a lawyer and a staunch disciplinarian, instilled values of discipline in all three children.

He pursued his education at Delhi Public School, Nalco Nagar in Angul. As an introvert, he dedicated himself primarily to academic pursuits.

In 8th grade, his school teacher observed his potential and assisted him in improving his interpersonal skills. The teacher motivated him to engage in drama activities. Excelling academically, he was selected as a class representative.

During 11th and 12th grade, he undertook various responsibilities at school, including social work, organizing cultural festivals, and managing the Christmas carnival.

He aspired to pursue a degree in MBBS. Following his completion of 12th grade, he traveled to Bhubaneswar to enroll in a medical coaching program. Over the course of his few weeks stay in Bhubaneswar, he forged new friendships, as the majority of his friends had chosen to pursue engineering studies.

But fate had some different plans. He opted to study engineering from KIIT University, Bhubaneswar. He felt life is short and there is more to explore than committing another 10 years to study medicine.

He cherished spending time with his friends. Whether it was house parties or going on road trips with friends, Soumendra always had companions by his side for his adventures. As a food lover he meticulously prepared chili chicken, which his friends thoroughly enjoyed.

He visited a park regularly at the heart of the city for 1-2 KM jog.

He excelled in his studies, consistently ranking within the top three students in the computer science department and among the top ten students in the entire KIIT University.

That left his friends often perplexed thinking how he could top in studies while he could be seen attending all the parties and roaming all over the city.

In 2004, he appeared for first job interview with Infosys as part of campus placement. But he felt disappointed to see his name missing from the final list of students who cracked the interviews.

Two weeks later he got a job offer from Wipro and he was ecstatic. The company instructed all the selected candidates to travel to Kolkata for medical examinations. For the first time in life, he stepped outside Odisha.

He commenced his role at Wipro, Hyderabad in June 2005. Unfortunately, he fell ill the following day and had to return to Bhubaneswar as the recovery process would be lengthy.

Three months later, he returned to Wipro, where he crossed paths with Ellora, who had also joined as a trainee. Coincidentally, they both studied at DPS, Nalco Nagar. Their friendship blossomed quickly.

He enjoyed visiting KBR Park in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad for 1-2 KM jog.

In 2008 he went to Finland on an official visit. The trip changed his outlook towards health, wellbeing and life. In spite of extreme weather conditions, the locals were accustomed to walking extensively. A colleague cycled 22 miles to the office daily.

During his stay in Finland, he explored new things. He joined a local football team. He also tried his hands at photography.

In Dec 2010, he got married to Ellora and settled at Hyderabad. But soon he found his weight heading north owing to lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits.

In 2011, the couple started running together at a nearby park. They also organized a 5K run inside their township. Within the next few months, he completed his first 10K run.

He joined Bank of America in 2014 and represented his company in various running events. In 2016, he ran 25 KM in Hyderabad. He was ecstatic.

Together, the couple embarked on South India road trips with their young daughter and friends, relishing the adventure of discovering new destinations.

In 2019 his boss gave him an offer to move to Dublin, the capital of Ireland. But he was given a very short time to make a decision. A month later, he found himself at this completely new place.

After spending a few months at this place his weight hovered over 83 KG mark. Upon the invitation of his neighbor, he thought of signing up for an upcoming half marathon.

Within the next 6 months, he reduced his weight by a whopping 12 KG by eating a healthy diet and keeping an active lifestyle. He went to the mountains for his early morning runs.

Every time he visited a new place, he ran in the morning to explore the place.

His wife also loves running and every morning she does a 5K run. If traveling outside isn’t possible due to bad weather, she runs 5K inside home. It’s super inspiring!

A local guy from his neighbourhood introduced him to trail running. In 2021, he did a 45 KM trail run that included crossing a river.

He completed the Dublin Marathon in 2022 and 2023 with a Personal Best timing of 3:48 HR.

In 2023, he participated in his longest trail run till date. He witnessed heavy rain and storm during the course, but his unwavering mindset saw him finishing the crossing line by covering 80 KM distance and an elevation more than 10,000 ft in 11.5 HR.

When you run, you feel better and happier. When your team runs together, then the bonding is even stronger. So he has set up a running club in his office in Dublin and motivates his team members to stay physically active.

Gold Dust
—————-
1. In 2024 he did a 50 KM run which was again marred by storm and snow. Out of 300 participants, 50 people quit the race from the beginning owing to extreme weather. However, Soumendra believes that such races train the mind to face any challenges in life. He savored the challenge and came out victorious.

2. For someone who once weighed close to 85 KG and never did serious running until the age of 30, he has come a long long way since then. Next year he has set his eyes on a 120 KM Wicklow way trail run.

If you liked the story, do share it with your family, friends and colleagues.

Flashback Sunday

I was running my first Marathon in Dec 2016. The event was held at Whitefield, Bangalore.

Run started at the stroke of midnight. Weather was pleasant and I liked the vibe of the place. For initial 21 KM, I enjoyed the run. But I made a big mistake owing to my own inexperience. I ran at a faster pace as compared to all my previous practice runs. I completed 21 KM within 2 hour 30 min and I was feeling ecstatic. But right after completing the halfway mark, something went horribly wrong. I could hear a sound in my ankle followed by excruciating pain.

The entire knee was hurting badly. I approached a nearby medical camp and they gave a Volini spray. I felt a little better after applying the spray and thought of continuing the run. But within the next 50 meters, it became clearly evident that running was no way possible. Each step felt like a burden.

As I could no longer run, I thought of doing a slow jog. That wasn’t easy either. Finally, I had to resort to walking. Knee kept hurting with each step.

It was 2.30 AM and for the next one and half hours I kept walking. By 4 AM, it became extremely cold and I had no experience running during the night. Refreshment centers were either closed down or ran out of food supply. Hunger compounded the pain and the chilly winter morning furthered the suffering.

But I kept saying these lines to myself.

If you can’t run, just jog
If you can’t jog, just walk
If you can’t walk, just crawl
But whatever may come, don’t give up.

Finally, after 6.5 hours of ordeal, my suffering came to an end as I crossed the finish line.

This incident proved to be a defining factor for the rest of my life.

In 2019 I picked up a pen to write about my life’s journey. Two and half years later it took the shape of a book titled “Anybody Can Run” which later turned out to be an Amazon Best Seller. Owing to this book, I recorded a podcast that’s now available on Spotify.

But looking back on that incident occurred 8 years ago, makes me realize that WORDS have IMMENSE POWER.

So, CHOOSE CAREFULLY what you TELL YOURSELF.

Nishanth Puthanpurayil

In spite of starting his serious running journey just 2 years ago, Nishanth has notched up superlative performance.

5K: 24:27
10K: 49:32
Half Marathon: 1:47:34
Marathon: 4:16:33
Ultra Marathon (50K): 6:11:12

Besides his prowess in running, Nishanth has also established a distinctive identity through his involvement in several iconic projects that laid the foundation for a new era in India. Here are some of Nishanth’s noteworthy works.

1. Network & Security Architect for UIDAI to provide Aadhar card for 140 Cr Indians

2. Setting up MPLS based backbone across the country for BSNL to run Multiplay services – the very first in India including IPTV

3. Setting up network for Core Banking Solution for the first time in South India

Nishanth, who grew up in a small village located in the Kozhikode district of Kerala, did not show any particular interest in sports during his formative years. Instead, he devoted most of his time to academic pursuits.

Upon completion of his degree at the College of Engineering Chengannur, he secured a position at HCL Infosystems. His inaugural work involved establishing a network for core banking solutions for South Indian Bank. Given his relative inexperience, clients initially dismissed him as youthful and inexperienced. Nevertheless, he persevered with diligence and dedication, ultimately earning the role of project lead, overseeing a team of 10 professionals.

After a few years, his hard work paid off, receiving commendations from clients as well as HCL leadership.

In his subsequent assignment, he collaborated with BSNL to establish internet backbone network infrastructure across India. Following a few years of dedicated efforts, the project was successfully completed and inaugurated by former President of India, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, in a widely celebrated event.

Having spent a decade with HCL, he was presented with an opportunity to contribute to the progress of New India. Under the visionary leadership of Nandan Nilekani, the former chairman of UIDAI, various solutions were rolled out to support Aadhaar generation for over 1.4 billion Indians. As a Network and Security Architect with the UIDAI, he worked closely with notable figures such as Srikanth Nadhamuni, Pramod Varma and Amutha Arunachalam.

Having spent 13 years with HCL, it was time to look for greener pastures. Eventually he secured a role at British Telecom, where he started with leading a team of network designers and currently serves as Lead – Digital transformation and Performance.

All this while his health took a backseat as his career graph skyrocketed. He struggled to keep a check on his weight and by 2021 he weighed 95 KG.

In April 2022, he embarked on a new journey to take control of his health. He enrolled for 100 days of Running (HDOR). He clocked 10 KM every single day by walking and running. During that time he met Arun, Ashwin, Pradeep, Kailash and Kaushik from HRA (Happy Runners – Alive & Adventurous) Running Club that truly changed the course of his life. Being in the company of these people helped Nishanth to stay consistent.

On the 98th day of the HDOR event, he ran 25 KM. This run gave him a lot of confidence to set his eyes on the next milestone.

Oct 2022 saw him running his first Full Marathon at the Bangalore Marathon event.

He continued his remarkable journey throughout 2023 by running in the TATA Mumbai Marathon, Kochi Spice Coast Marathon, Kodagu Half Marathon, GKVK Ultra Marathon (50 KM) and Bangalore Marathon.

In addition to running, he possesses a deep desire for exploring nature. In April of 2023, he embarked on an expedition to Everest Base Camp (EBC). This journey lasted approximately 11 days, and along the way, he witnessed awe-inspiring views of the majestic Himalayas. Despite battling “Kumbhu Cough” and enduring harsh conditions, including subzero temperatures and hailstorms, he successfully completed his maiden trip to EBC.

In an era where many struggle to strike a balance between professional and personal aspirations, Nishanth has mastered this dynamic impeccably.

Kaushik Sarkar

Hailing from a lower middle-class background, Kaushik grew up in the city of Kanpur, also known as the Leather City of the World. He grew up in the midst of a muslim community and celebrated their festivals more than his own.

Before getting married, his father had moved from Kolkata to Kanpur to work in a defense factory. His mother, although a Bengali, was a local resident of Kanpur. His parents lived their entire life in this beautiful city which was formerly known as Manchester of India.

Kaushik was good at sports as he represented his college cricket team as a middle order batsman and more than handy wicketkeeper. Football also fascinated his imagination to a great extent. He was also good at academics and got into prestigious BIT, Mesra engineering college.

During this time, he developed new interests like music, reading novels and dancing for the first time in his life. He got the first taste of erstwhile Bihar’s political scenario as the college had students from various political backgrounds. In late 90s, Bihar was known as a notorious state, but he found people of Bihar to be extremely talented, inquisitive and affable. He made some lifelong friends while studying there. He also met his soulmate Priyanka whom he later married.

While freedom allowed Kaushik to explore and learn new things, it also brought him under the influence of smoking and alcohol that affected him in many ways.

He started his career in the manufacturing industry. Soon he moved to sales and marketing given his penchant for building and nurturing relationships. However this role needed extensive traveling and his habit of smoking and drinking continued unabated. By 2009, at the age of 29, he weighed 90 kg and had lost touch with any kind of sports after passing out from his college. He quietly abhorred his lifestyle, but there was no easy way out.

By April 2011, he had crossed the century mark and weighed a whopping 104 kg.

In Oct 2011, he moved from Delhi to Bangalore. This change started to positively impact his life. He lived in HSR Layout which is still a prominent area where one can find plenty of runners during early morning hours. Seeing these runners, he could no longer stay in the confines of his home and started with slow runs in 2013. He had also drastically cut down on smoking.

He started to feel the difference in his body and mind as his weight came down to 90 kg. But his personal life went through a complete turmoil as he lost both his parents within a span of 14 months and his plans to expand his family beyond 2 also took a temporary beating.

His fitness took a back seat as he had plenty to deal with. Being a sports person since his childhood probably helped to keep his mind sane during those turbulent times.

Finally in 2017, things started to look brighter when he and his wife were blessed with twin daughters. He thought both his parents came back to his life in the form of his daughters.

A year later, looking at his daughters it dawned upon him that he could no longer match the energy of the toddlers. So he finally picked up his running shoes in 2018. He started with slow jogs and gradually moved to run longer distances.

He ran his first half marathon in Oct 2018. By the 16th kilometer he was so tired and cramped that it took him 1 hr 15 min to cover the remaining 5 KM. He completed the run in 3 hr 15 min.

In 2020 January as he turned 40, he vowed to himself to stay healthy and started running more consistently. COVID lockdown allowed him more time for running.

But it was a difficult period for him professionally as he was running a startup and his business struggled during the pandemic. However his focus on running kept him grounded. He met Vishwanath ji, Raju, Kailash and Pradeep from HRA (Happy Runners – Alive & Adventurous) Running Club that truly changed the course of his life. They were extremely passionate about running and cycling. Being in the company of these people helped Kaushik to stay consistent. He used to wake up by 5 AM and complete his run before anybody could see him during COVID lockdown.

His consistency paid off and on 5th Dec 2020, he completed his first ever Full Marathon with a timing of 4:05 hr. His weight had come down to 70 kg.

In the last 4 years, he has run 8 Marathons and 7 Ultra Marathons. He also has 81 half marathons to his credit. Earlier this year he ran a full marathon in Delhi within 4 hours.

In 2023, he raised the bar for himself by running four Full Marathons (in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore) and four Ultra Marathons (60 KM in Ooty and 50 KM in Yercaud, Malnad and Bangalore).

He has consistently built his endurance and clocked close to 8,000 KM of running till date.

He is also proud of the accomplishments of his wife Priyanka. She has recently completed a half marathon in Bangalore and one in the hilly terrain of Yercaud.

Kaushik had issues dealing with anger all through his life, but running helped him to gain composure. He started observing and introspecting a lot more in his life. He is a lot happier now. He wants to inspire people to take up running and bring a positive change in the society.

He sums up his experiences with these lines.

Life was going downhill fast but then running came to my rescue! Luckily, I started pounding the pavement just before COVID hit.
I’d always dreamed of running with my kids once they took up cycling. And guess what? I’m living that dream right now! Pure happiness.

Remember, you’re only as small as the things that bug you. So, why sweat the small stuff? Save your energy for the big-ticket items!

Deepa Nayak

Uttara Kannada is known as the land of rivers. Religious places, National Park, waterfalls, beaches and backwaters; there are many tourist attractions in this district in Karnataka.

Deepa was born in an agrarian family living in Siddapur, a village in this district. She studied in a government school. Any kind of sport didn’t ignite her interest. Being chubby, she often faced friendly banter from her classmates. After completing 10th grade, she moved to Sirsi to pursue intermediate studies.

In 2006, she came to Bangalore to study electrical engineering. But her financial constraints didn’t allow her to pursue any hobbies as she had to solely focus on studies to rise above the water.

The year 2010 brought a change in fortune as she secured a job at Tavant Technologies. She got a decent salary and the money brought freedom.

For the very first time in life, she thought of doing something apart from studies and work. She went for morning jogs to enjoy the beautiful weather of Bangalore. As she continued running, someone suggested that she should consider participating in an upcoming event.

She made her very first appearance in any running event during the 2011 edition of TCS 10K. She was elated after completing the run in 64 min.

Soon after this event, she joined aerobics and running took a backseat.

For the next 3 years, she made occasional appearances in events like TCS 10K, Kaveri Trail Marathon 10K and Ajmera Thump.

In 2014, she joined Wipro Running Club and went to Lalbagh over weekends for training.

Owing to her preparation, she secured first position in Spirit of Wipro Run 2014. Receiving the medal in front of thousands of people made her feel special. First time in life, she witnessed so many people celebrating her success and cheering for her. This particular moment proved to be transformational as it was about to shape the course of her life.

After three years of running 10K distance, she set her eye on the next milestone. That year she ran her first half marathon in the Bangalore Marathon 2014.

In 2015, she joined Reebok Running Squad and trained with coach Neera Katwal. She went to Kanteerava Stadium for four days a week. That’s where she got to learn the nuances of coaching. Couple of years later, she worked at Cult Fitness as a trainer and further fine tuned her coaching skills.

In the Bangalore Marathon held in Oct 2017, she secured 3rd position in the half marathon category. Having spent the last three years honing her coaching skills and improving her strength for running half marathons, she was now ready for the next big challenge of running a full marathon.

Exactly a year later, she was elated after covering the total distance of 42.2 KM. Officially she was now a Marathoner.

The year 2019 brought change in fortunes and set the tone for the next phase of her life.

On 19th Jan 2019, Suresh from Reebok Running Squad introduced her to Shreyas Karnad while having dinner in Mumbai. Shreyas is the founder of running group Runners 360. The very next day, thousands of runners participated in the iconic Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM). Post completion of the run, Deepa was looking for her friends from the Reebok squad but they were nowhere in sight. Shreyas had already finished his run and was waiting for his friends. Upon seeing Deepa, he offered her water and helped her to find members of her running group. They never met after that event.

In Nov 2019, Deepa started planning for next year’s Full Marathon. She prepared a plan, but wanted to get it reviewed from someone experienced. She remembered about Shreyas with whom she had interacted way back in January. She felt a bit awkward to approach him after such a long time. Nevertheless she didn’t know anyone else who could support her during that time. Finally when she mustered some courage to speak to Shreyas, he immediately helped to fine tune the plan. Soon after she started going to Kanteerava stadium regularly to run with Shreyas.

She performed superbly and clocked her personal best timing to finish TMM 2020 in 3:29:59. A month later, she finished the Delhi Marathon in 3:28:00.

On the onset of COVID in Mar 2020, the world came to a stand still. As people were struggling to find a way to keep the things on track, Shreyas started online ZOOM sessions to train runners of Runners360 club. Deepa joined as a strength and conditioning coach and started taking online sessions. She enjoyed her journey thoroughly.

Leaving a well paying corporate job to pursue your passion requires courage and immense self belief. Being a running coach demands plenty of physical and mental energy on a sustained basis. So it was going to be a tough decision to leave the job and move completely into coaching.

Her husband Ankit has been a great pillar of support since they got married in 2017. He helped Deepa in making that important career move.

Shreyas also gave her a lot of support to keep negativity at bay and choose a career that fills life with purpose.

So in June 2022, she took a leap of faith to leave job at Akamai and pursue her passion for coaching and running.

She continues to work as Strength and Conditioning Coach in Runners360 Running Club and ASICS Running Club. She trains more than 150 people ongoingly. Till date she has trained more than 250 people.

This year she participated in 3 world majors: Berlin Marathon, Boston Marathon and London Marathon. Running a full marathon takes a lot of physical and mental energy. Deepa ran the Boston and London Marathons on consecutive weeks that shows her ability to push the limits.

She is the brand ambassador for various running events across India.

She also has a keen interest in mountaineering. This year she ran in the Ladakh Marathon, the highest marathon in the world, held at a height of 11,500 feet. Right after completing the Ladakh Marathon, she went on a 10 day expedition climbing Kang Yatse 1 mountain at 21,000 ft. Upon reaching the peak, she did 10 push ups to commemorate the moment. Who in the world can think of celebrating this way?

Apart from her love for running and coaching, she is an animal lover. Cookie, the dog and Laila, the cat bring much joy to her life. Cookie’s sister Brownie died under unfortunate circumstances a few years ago. In the memory of Brownie, Deepa donates her prize money to dog shelters and dog feeders.

When she is gone, Deepa wants people to remember her as a friend, coach and cynophile.

The Gold Dust
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1. Importance of building a foundation?
Deepa ran 10K for 3 years and 21K for another 3 years to build a solid foundation before attempting her first marathon. This has helped her to sustain peak performance over the years. She didn’t fade away like early morning dew with the onset of sunrise.

2. Magic of Focus and Consistency
It’s hard to believe that someone who didn’t have any inclination towards sports for most part of her life is now training more than 150 people simultaneously.

While the whole world may look at her through her achievements, the secret lies in the focus and consistency that she brings to the work every day.

3. Follow your heart
She donates all her prize money for a cause that’s very close to her heart.