Kumar Darsh

In recent years, Kumar Darsh has participated in the AMC 8 and AMC 10, both national mathematics competitions. Seeking to sharpen his skills, the high-school sophomore enrolled in CTY’s Competitive Mathematics I online course this fall.

“You can go at your own pace,” Kumar said of the course. “It’s challenging in a good way, and I’ve been able to learn new skills, tips, and tricks for the AMC 10 coming up in February.”

Kumar, 15, who also loves science, soccer, and tennis, is by all accounts a happy, healthy teenager. And that’s no small blessing for the Connecticut native, who says he takes nothing for granted.

Since he was small, Kumar has heard stories about the circumstances surrounding his birth. Satyendra Kumar and Preety Yadav, Kumar’s parents, moved from India to Connecticut in 2000. About a year later, right after Kumar was born, he was diagnosed with a potentially fatal medical condition, and spent his first months in the hospital.

His community of Farmington, Conn. rallied around his family. “The community came together and helped me survive,” Kumar said. “There was a social worker assigned to help my parents. Medical personnel all over the country studied my case. And random strangers who had heard about me helped my parents—brought them hot meals, offered to let them borrow the car, and just helped in any way possible.”

Kumar says his parents often remind him of the goodwill they experienced throughout the ordeal. “They instilled in me this concept of how important my community was to me and the importance of community service,” he said.

Three years ago, Kumar and some friends started hosting talent shows at a local middle school and donating the proceeds to a local charity that provides clothing and shelter to homeless families.

The effort has grown each year, and so has its scope. Since 2013, the website he co-founded—Power of Peace.org—has raised more than $72,000 to support many local and international causes, including providing supplies and educational support to an orphanage in India.

Kumar says he hopes to spread the message of community service to other young people. “If the work we’re doing would inspire other kids to take that step to do something to help others, that would be the true manifestation of Power of Peace,” he said.

Katy Bowman