By Carl Kotala
One of the most respected medical associations in the state of Florida is turning 20 years old.
The Brevard Indo-American Medical and Dental Association (BIMDA) was founded on the basis of scientific, educational, cultural and charitable purposes by Dr. Mahesh Soni, Glad Kurian and Dr. Subhash Rege.
“BIMDA is a premier medical organization with a 20 year accomplishment and growing,” said Dr. Mahesh Soni, founding president.
“There was no organization at that time to represent all medical and dental practitioners in Brevard County, to get together and discuss their problems with each other, so we thought we should form some organization among ourselves to get together to have some discussions, learn some things, have some programs like music, comedy, stories (and) entertainment,” said Dr. Subhash Rege, a family dentist and BIMDA’s first Life Member.
It began as a small group with 30 to 40 members and as Dr. Rege put it, “We were not sure at that time how long it would survive with only a few friends together.”
However, it wasn’t long before BIMDA began to gain plenty of traction in Brevard County and it now boasts close to 200 members who volunteer their time to further the group’s objectives.
Glad Kurian, a vice president with Morgan Stanley in Melbourne, is often recognized as the driving force for BIMDA in social circles. A determined champion for good causes, Glad is often seen at local events, helping out when needed. His networking skills have expanded the presence of BIMDA far beyond the medical circles. “We are all volunteers and leaders,” said Glad, who has earned a reputation for developing similar oganizations statewide over the past 20 years, pro bono.
“Our goal continues to be the same as it was 20 years ago,” BIMDA Sponsorship Chair Dr. Ashok Shah said. “A social interaction platform in an informal setting. (The) only change has been the scale of our programs. We also strive to bring updated CME (continuing medical education) to local physicians.”
To that end, the group will be holding its annual Regional Medical Expo and CME Conference on November 21 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place. The event includes medical lectures and scientific exhibits open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The expo and conference is open to all physicians and there is no cost to attend the CME program. There will also be a complimentary breakfast and lunch.
Hosting expos to further the education of the local doctors is just part of what BIMDA does to impact the medical community. Among its stated objectives are “to support and foster the availability of medical assistance to indigent people in Brevard County, Central Florida and India.”
In 2005, BIMDA organized fundraisers to collect $200,000 to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. The organization also raised $40,000 for Haitian earthquake victims and $150,000 for tsunami victims in Asia.
BIMDA was named FLORIDA TODAY’s “Organization of the Year” in 2012, an award Dr. Rao Kopuri, a member of BIMDA’s Board of Regents, called the group’s biggest accomplishment.
“We continue to work hard to improve the quality of life of our community,” Dr. Kopuri said.
That’s just part of BIMDA’s wide-ranging philanthropy. The group also supports a varied number of nonprofit organizations such as United Way of Brevard, Jess Parrish Medical Foundation, Cancer Care Centers Foundation, the Merritt Island Rotary Club Foundation, the Scott Center for Autism Treatment, Brevard Symphony Orchestra, the Brevard Sherriff’s Office’s Camp Chance, Ma Krupa Charitable Foundation, the Women’s Center, Health First Foundation, Wuesthoff Health System Auxiliary, Brevard Schools Foundation and FLORIDA TODAY’s Reaching out Holiday Fund, among many others.
Dr. Mukesh Aggarwal, ophthalmologist and a pioneering leader in the Indian community states, “BIMDA is proud to welcome all physicians and dentists from all walks of life to join us in community service.”
It’s that community service that current chairman and president, Dr. Sharad Vyas called “the glue” that holds diverse providers together working for common goals.
“BIMDA’s community service is (a) catalyst (for) philanthropy,” Dr. Vyas said. “Many of our past presidents and executive officers have become rock stars in public life, serving the community as volunteers, as hospital board members, chief of medical staff at hospitals, department heads at hospitals (and) board members at charity foundations.”
The group’s work has certainly earned itself plenty of supporters among the medical, business and even political community.
BIMDA has some pretty amazing volunteers as well, including Sri Kopuri, the daughter of Dr. Rao Kopuri (orthodontist) and Dr. Aparna Kopuri (psychiatrist.)
“Working with BIMDA is a very rewarding experience,” Sri Kopuri said. “I have worked in several administrative positions and have a background in the medical sciences. This organization has given me the ability to combine two of my passions into one position, and I thoroughly enjoy working with these physicians.
“I volunteer my time and help BIMDA because I believe in their pursuits and appreciate the opportunity to work with all of these members of the medical community.”
As part of BIMDA’s 20th anniversary, President-Elect Dr. Aravind Kumar said the group plans to honor its volunteers and office bearers “who have been a pillar of support during the process of growth of BIMDA through these years.” Honorable Congressman Bill Posey will host a Congressional Medal of Recognition ceremony
for the selected leaders.
“We are part of this vibrant community,” Dr. Kumar said. “Giving is human, and moreover we are in a field where we feel the pain of others who are in need.”
It may have started out as just a small group, but BIMDA has grown into Florida’s leading medical association for a reason. It has never lost sight of the simple fact that community service should be a vital part of our lives.
“We do not believe that this is our 20th anniversary and we are still growing stronger and stronger beyond our expectations,” Dr. Rege said. “We feel very happy to think that our struggle and hard work lead to success to remember in our life, to believe that our ambition is filled at last.”