by Shobana Muratee
- HOUSTON – (Nov. 16, 2019) – Katy Premier League (KPL) has distinguished itself as the one of the biggest ‘Charity Thru Sports’ competitive sports event happening in Houston for the past eight years. KPL started in 2012 when a group of fervent Indian American sportsmen in the Katy, Texas sought to organize sports like volleyball and throwball within the community, as a way of engaging families. Over time, KPL grew to 46 volleyball teams with over 450 players, and 10 throwball teams with 60 plus players from across the country. A total of 56 companies sponsor the 56 teams. The uniqueness of KPL is its mission to serve the needy through the funds they receive for their events. KPL has successfully raised and donated over $400,000 toward various causes in the last eight years.
On Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, a group of KPL volunteers, including young girls and boys, served at the Houston Food Bank for four hours. This was the first time KPL has volunteered at HFB and it was a field day, especially for the children who got a firsthand experience at community service and charity. At the conclusion, KPL’s founding member Ravi Varre donated $10,000 to Houston Food Bank as ‘Charity Thru Sports.’ The check was received by HFB’s Katy Lipman, Corporate Engagement Senior Manager on the occasion.
Hari Rao, KPL Chair, said around 35 people had volunteered at the HFB on Saturday. KPL conducts different sporting activities for men, women and kids. KPL believes in creating a family-festive atmosphere that the whole family will look forward to every year, to make a difference in someone’s life. Earlier this year, Oct 11- 12, KPL2019 hosted 56 teams that competed at various levels in the ‘Charity Thru Sports’ event. KPL did a family night on Oct 12th with games and entertainment for kids, followed by a Gala Dinner. Over 1500 people attended the event this year despite inclement weather conditions.
Sports, charity and volunteerism have come to be the cornerstones of KPL. The concept ‘Charity Thru Sports’ was realized when one of the KPL volleyball player and first beneficiary, Ramana Vattikuti, a Katy resident, who was fighting cancer. For the first time a fundraiser was started for him. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to save him, but he lit a fire in us,” said Shankar Tangirala, founding member and key organizer of KPL. He became the inspiration and the driving force to campaign for a cause through sports. KPL continue raising funds and found a way of giving back to the community. Today, KPL’s beneficiaries range from children, students, cancer patients, families who have lost dear ones, and those with serious medical conditions and in need of financial assistance. In 2017 KPL raised $ 46,000, a portion of which was donated toward a Harvey relief fund. In 2018, funds up to $131,000 was raised a part of which went toward rebuilding homes in Kodagu District affected by Kerala-Karnataka floods in India. This year, KPL raised and distributed $212,000 to multiple beneficiaries: Giri Cancer Fighters, Youth Cricket Empowerment, FARA, and Merit Scholarships, to name a few. Through the last eight years KPL was able to donate more than 400 thousand dollars through its events.
KPL members are from Katy area and come from various backgrounds: IT, staffing consultants; a few have their companies. The core team of KPL has always been people of Indian origin, Tangirala said. Asked how anyone can receive aid from KPL Tangirala explained, “We took baby steps to get to this level, but it was always been through word of mouth. When anyone in the community with no medical insurance, Gofundme, or any other funds coming and are left on an island, we support them,” he said. KPL does not have a set amount to give but distributes all the funds that it has raised that year to those in need.