Young CEO overcomes disability, inspires others

Mallika Mahendru, with her business, Fitness on Wheels, is presented the Sams’ Club Award by Norma Ramirez, Marketing Team Leader. (Photo by Ron Sundquist)

At the age of 2 months, Mallika Mahendru was left paralyzed by a tumor on her spine. Mahendru, now a 12-year-old student at Alta Sierra Intermediate school in Clovis, has been in a wheelchair her entire life as a result of the tumor. In all that time, however, Mahendru has maintained a positive attitude and a vibrant smile.

Instead of looking at her limitations, Mahendru has occupied herself with extra curricular activities such as wheelchair gymnastics, swimming, biking, robotics, drama, singing, playing various musical instruments, cheerleading, dancing, and wheelchair basketball.

For Mahendru, the ultimate goal is to inspire others who are in a similar situation. That’s why she came up with Fitness on Wheels, an interactive website that will feature videos of herself dancing.

“My mom and dad would always force me to do my therapies, but I would always shy from them because the routines became boring,” Mahendru  said. “That’s when I thought of creating this company to inspire others who are in a similar situation like me. My business is a nonprofit organization where I post fun videos of myself dancing to different types of music.”

Mahendru presented her business idea during the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investors Panel on Tuesday, March. 28 at Clovis Community College.

With thorough research and a detailed outline of her business goals, the young entrepreneur impressed the panel of investors.

As a result, Mahendru walked away with a $1,150 check from the investors. She also earned a $100 membership to Sam’s Club where she can get resources for her business.

“It feels so amazing. It’s a huge experience. I can’t even explain it,” Mahendru said. “I was really nervous. I had no idea I was going to win. My parents are the one who helped me the most with this. They put all their hard work in this for me.”

She adds that the best part about her idea is simply the fact that she gets “to make people want to have fun.”

Mahendru plans to have the website launched in the first year of her business. She will then create an app for users to shoot and upload video of themselves dancing.

“I have goosebumps. She did amazing today, amazing Mallika. We’re very proud of her,” said Mallika’s mother, Sarita Mahendru. “She did a fabulous job, even though she was sick. She was a little bit behind in submitting her projects.”

For Mallika’s parents, the most impressive part of their daughter’s trait is her confidence.

“She always thinks positive. That’s the best thing about her,” Sarita Mahendru said. “She always says ‘mom, just think positive. I’ll try my best and we’ll go from there.’”

As a dance teacher herself, Sarita Mahendru sees how dancing can influence children.

“A lot of kids who are on a wheelchair, I think they will not be shy when they watch her dancing,” Sarita Mahendru  said. “Music is connecting to God. That’s how I feel.”

Nine other businesses were also presented at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investors Panel.

Clovis North student Dayna Thai won $275 for her business idea DancEmporium, a website where dancers can buy and sell dance items.

Christopher Lee, a 16-year-old sophomore at San Joaquin Memorial High School, also took $275 for his clothing brand Civil Disobedience.

The winner of $325 was Clovis West sophomore Sequoia Bittner, CEO of a piano learning app called inLIGHTened MUSIC.

Samyuktaa Jayakrishnan took $475 for BlitZ, a website that makes it easier for people to find things to do in their area.

NoChlo, a new filtered water bottle created by Taleen Cochran and Tarn Nagra, was awarded $500.

Hirsh Sandhu’s Smart Learning+, a website that provides tutoring for students, earned $550.

Jai Mehrotra won $1,050 for Help 2 cOnserve, a machine that helps homeowners save water. 

The winner of $1,125 was Scarvellous, a unique brand of scarves designed by Vinita and Varun Raj.

In the end, however, it was  Mallika Mahendru who stole the show.

“Dancing is her passion. She goes to Break the Barriers and she’s on the dance team.

She doesn’t see any difficulty. Never. She loves it,” Sarita Mahendru said. “She creates her own steps, she does wonderful. Anytime she’s on stage or out in public performing, it just touches everybody’s heart. They come and give her blessings. She makes us feel so proud. She’s so special in her own way.”