Suneja Tests the Katy Marathon as a Pilot Fundraiser for Pratham


Dr. Randeep Suneja after running the Katy Half Marathon to raise money for his favorite charity, Pratham.

By Jawahar Malhotra

KATY: It seems that some people never shirk from taking on challenges and even eagerly seek newer ones out. This becomes acute when they are passionate about the causes they believe in and such was the case for Dr. Randeep Suneja, a renowned cardiologist who has lived and practiced for years in this town about 30 miles west of downtown Houston. With a busy cardiology practice which he started 26 years ago, and travels often (he made 23 trips in 2017 alone), Suneja enjoys pushing himself to compete. To a string of accomplishments which he usually underplays, is his passion for running and his compassion for helping others.

A keen runner, the 57 year-old Suneja has participated in many marathons in the Houston area – and even in his hometown in December 2014 when, jet-lagged from a long 20-hour plane ride and unprepared, he still insisted to running in the New Delhi Marathon.  Two years ago, he was inspired by his friends to take on the Katy Half Marathon and started to practice a week beforehand. But this year, he didn’t even do that, and even sat out the rugged Chevron Houston Marathon. And to his surprise, he was able to finish at 2:44:56, slightly ahead of his previous pace. The winner of this year’s 4th Annual Katy Half Marathon was 42 year-old Eduardo Fernandez timed in at 1:18:15.

“It was an enjoyable race, but perhaps because of the cold weather or the preponderance of many marathons at this time of the year, the participation was way down,” Suneja, said after the race. “There were perhaps 40 other Indians running this year.” But Suneja was the only one running to raise money for his favorite charity.

What propelled Suneja this year was a cause close to his heart. When Suneja joined the Board of the preeminent India-focused Pratham USA non-profit charity in 2016, he toyed with the idea of combining his two passions and help to raise money while doing so. The Board agreed with a pilot program to see how it would work and so, this year, a week before the Katy Marathon, it launched the Pratham Marathon page on its website and Suneja pushed it forward to all his supporters. “Incredibly, within six days, we raised $7,410 for Pratham,” said a delighted Suneja. “People donated between $10 and $1,000 from all over the world.”

Encouraged by the response, Pratham will replicate the pilot program in the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon on March 18 with six runners, according to Pratham President Asha Dhume who is exploring all possibilities for raising funds for the charity and was delighted by Suneja’s run. “I am focused on major contributions right now,” she said, “in preparation of our Houston Gala on Saturday, May 12.”