Young Change Enablers Perform in Bye-Bye Kids’ Cancer Talent Show at Santana Row

Story and Photos by Diane Andrews

“We shall overcome….We shall live in peace, someday, someday,” sang 10 Kindergarten through 5th graders from Don Callejon Elementary School, Santa Clara, on stage at Santana Row’s Park Valencia on May 12.

“I’m proud to be an American,” belted out Yuvan Gautam, an 11-year-old vocal powerhouse. (Check him out on YouTube.) Shazneen and Alyssa, both nine, sang “The Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.

“It gave me goose bumps. They all sang with so much passion,” said Garima Agarwal, the Santa Clara mom who organized the Bye-Bye Kids’ Cancer talent show—a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research.

For almost two hours, 35 children sang their hearts out, danced, demonstrated martial arts and played instruments—the keyboard, drums, violin and guitar—to raise money for Stanford University’s nonprofit Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital.


Eight-year-old Ari Kumar Sharma demonstrated tai kwon do, breaking wood blocks with hand chops and kicks. Ninya Udinoor, 10, choreographed her own dance, combining classical Indian dance and gymnastics.

Introduced as “young change enablers,” the performers were part of the third fundraiser organized by Agarwal to teach compassion to her nine-year-old son, Aeshaan Singhal, who played the guitar and stood in for his mom as emcee because she had a cold.

Agarwal explained that she and her husband, Abhishek Singhal, learned to help others from the example of their own parents in India. Her mother taught elementary school. Then after school, she taught poor children for free in her home.

“We grew up learning that you do what you can to help others, less fortunate people than you, and be kind,” said Agarwal.

“Just because our son is small doesn’t mean that he can’t help. We want him to know that he has the ability to help regardless of his age or not having a job or salary. It’s about the passion to help others have a better life.”

The Bye-Bye Cancer fundraiser was facilitated by a cadre of dedicated parents.

“Giving a check is one thing, but we want to incorporate that habit into our child so he knows what he’s doing is for a good cause,” said Santa Clara resident Amit Sharma, who held the wood blocks during his son’s tae kwan do demo.

Six-year-old Aarush Aroun from Milpitas played the piano and made a speech about martial arts expert and actor Jackie Chan.

“My son’s role is to make the world a better place,” said Aarush’s mom, Preethi Agarani. “He feels awesome because he’s helping somebody he didn’t even meet.”

“I couldn’t do this without the help of all my friends and friends of friends,” said Agarwal. “I take a small step and others step up. I want to thank them and their kids for supporting the cause.”

In 2015, $1,900 was raised and $2,656.66 in 2017. This year, about $1,400 was raised by noon Saturday. Donations can be made at www.tinyurl.com/banishcancer to help reach the goal of $4,000.

“This is a nice way to entertain people with wonderful, talented kids. People have a good time and then they donate to a very good cause,” said Santa Clara parent Sujan Wadud, who organized the sound equipment. “This teaches our kids about charity—one of the most important things.”

“When I see these kids perform with such passion, I feel that I’m doing something right, something good. When I hear them talking about helping and making a difference in somebody’s life, I feel like my mission is accomplished,” said Agarwal. “These kids make my heart swell. It’s an amazing feeling. It makes me very proud of all of them.”