We were sitting in a tiny Akshara Foundation community library in a narrow alley in Banashankari, Bangalore. studying children's reactions to our books. Playing 'love,like,hate, adore' with our books, the kids came to 'Kolhapur to Beijing-Freestyle!' Raju, an auto-driver's 10-year old son,wanted to be the first to speak about it. "Very good story, Miss! And Virdhawal is so brave---he was not scared of a snake even when he was little. And he worked hard to become a good swimmer. I want to be like him too. And after reading this book, I know it is possible to win big awards even if we are from a poor family!"
Srikala, a Class 6 student in a government school, spoke up next. "There is no swimming pool here, but I practice running everyday now. I want to become a champion in sports too!"
Today, as Virdhawal Khade turns 18, we are proud that he has inspired thousands of children in India. As an author who had the privilege to write the book, I can't suppress this almost-motherly pride in him! Pratham Books is proud to be associated with him, and wishes Veer a very happy birthday and an excellent future. We would also like to raise a toast to his parents Vikram and Sunita, his coach Nihar Ameen, his promoters Nandan, Hakimuddin and Joseph at GoSports and to all those who believe in him.....because they have not just helped him win medals, they have also helped to inspire a lot of children to dream big and to show that dreams can come true.Happy Birthday, Veer!