July will be doubly special for Suniel and Mana Shetty. The month will begin with their daughter, Athiya making her big screen debut and end with a special needs teenager of their NGO flying down to Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Suniel and Mana Shetty with Vipul Jain (centre)
Vipul Jain, a 17-year-old mentally challenged student, has qualified for a softball tournament in the upcoming world event. He is enrolled with Save The Children India, a voluntary organisation founded by Mana’s mother Vipula Kadri. After her death, the actor and his entrepreneur wife took on the responsibility to run it. Among its various interventions, the NGO runs a special school for hearing impaired and mentally challenged children. Around 250 special children from slum areas are study there.
Mana and Suniel are on cloud nine after news trickled in about Vipul’s qualification in the US sports event which will be held between July 25 and August 2. “For both of us, all the students are like our children and we celebrate their successes as our own,” she says. The actor says, “We have seen Vipul since his kindergarden days and for me, his achievements hold as much value as Athiya’s or Ahaan’s success does.”
Vipul, who excels at a variety of sports and has won medals and trophies at state-level athletic and table tennis competitions, says: “I feel encouraged while playing sports in their presence.”