Saving Riaa: The Fundraiser That Broke All Our Records (So Far)

By: Riaa Kulkarni

Published On: August 13, 2018

Funds raised: Rs. 51,86,443

Number of donations: 3409

“It was a very dark phase that were caught in; we were told we would lose our little Riaa, and weren’t able to find a doctor who would tell us otherwise for a long time. And then, even when we did finally find a ray of hope in Mexico, the situation with the hefty hospital bills still pushed Riaa’s recovery far out of our reach. Finding over 3000 strangers who were kind enough to help save our daughter was a true blessing.” - Sheetal Kulkarni, Riaa’s mother.

Until August 2016, Riaa Kulkarni was a happy-go-lucky child who went to primary school in Australia. Then the symptoms began showing, one by one. The then 6-year-old was suddenly feeling weak more often than not, complaining of headaches and even had problems with her vision.

When they took her to the doctor, the diagnosis shocked the family. Riaa had DIPG, one of the fastest developing brain tumours. She was now looking at a few years of treatment ahead of her before she could fully recover, as the cancer was so aggressive that they would multiply and grow back before they could be killed through chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Because of the nature of her condition, the doctors they approached in Australia couldn’t treat her. 

They predicted that little Riaa had no more than 6 months left to live. However, the Kulkarnis refused to give up hope

They convinced doctors to give her a chance and thus began her first few sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Riaa was also forced to drop out of school during this time, as her symptoms got the better of her; her vision was compromised and she was constantly nauseous and unable to walk or even eat. 

Riaa’s parents simultaneously scouted for other doctors and hospitals who were genuinely willing to take up her case, pushing aside the nagging thought of finances. Finally, Monash Children’s Hospital in Mexico agreed to take her into their experimental programme on fast developing brain cancers like DIPG. In 2017, Riaa began treatment in Mexico. But by this time, her parents’ savings had completely depleted. Travel, treatment and accommodation was going to cost the family over Rs. 60 lakh.


On Impact Guru, the Kulkarnis were able to raise Rs 51.8 lakhs in 2 months!

In the past year and a half, Riaa has received over 15 sessions of chemotherapy and radiation therapy at Monash Hospital. The parents and doctors are ecstatic to report that contrary to what her previous doctors had predicted in 2016, Riaa’s condition is improving well! Her symptoms have become milder and her tumour has reduced in size.

Doctors noted that the travel back and forth from Australia and the heavy doses of therapy were taking a toll on the 8-year-old’s tiny body. Following their suggestion, Riaa’s parents decided to give her a break and pulled her out of treatment. Currently, she attends two hours of school everyday and takes medication to cope with her symptoms. In two months, Riaa will be returning to Monash, where doctors estimate she has around 6 months of treatment left before she can fully recover.

You can view Riaa’s fundraiser story here.

This fundraiser was part of our Accelerate model, where we use content and marketing tools to help fundraisers reach out to a large pool of potential donors.

Is a loved one in need of medical funding? Click here to start your own fundraiser and save a life.



Related Success Stories