Houston: A 24-year-old American, who took a bullet for an Indian, has been honoured as 'A True American Hero' by the Indian-American community in Houston which raised USD 100,000 to help him buy a house in his hometown Kansas.
Ian Grillot, who was injured when he tried to intervene in the shooting by a Navy veteran targeting Indians at a bar in Olathe, Kansas last month, was honoured as 'A True American Hero' at the 14th annual gala of India House Houston here.
Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was killed and his colleague Alok Madasani was critically injured in the shooting.
"On behalf of the Indian-American community in Houston, India House recognised this selfless act beyond the call of duty and has extended the community's gratitude to Ian Grillot by helping him to buy a house," said a statement posted on the India House Houston Facebook page.
India House raised USD 100,000 as part of an initiative supported by the Consul General of India in Houston, Dr Anupam Ray to help Ian buy a house in his hometown, it said.
India House is a community centre built by Americans of Indian origin in the Greater Houston area.
Speaking on the occasion, Ian said, "I don't know if I could've lived with myself if I wouldn't have stopped or attempted to stop the shooter because that would've been completely devastating."
"I do now have a very powerful message and if I can help empower people and spread hope and love, then why not? I am honored to be at India House that serves so many families from so many communities in the Houston area," he said.
India's Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna handed over the cheque of USD 100,000 to Ian.
"I was keen to come here today because I was told that Ian Grillot will be honoured. It was a great privelege to meet him and his parents. He is a young man who has shown exceptional courage, strength of very fundamental human values. No amount of honor that India or the Indian-Americans bestows on him will be re-compensed enough for that moment of exceptional fortitude and character," Sarna said.
"It is a privilege to be representing India in the US at this point in time. We are all representatives of India. When we look at India, even at this distance, we can continue to be proud of what we have achieved in 70 years and continue to be optimistic," he said.
At the event, Ray said, "The vibrant Indian diaspora in America has always contributed towards the society and economy of the US. They are the ambassadors of Indian culture. They are playing a vital role in strengthening the ties between the two nations and cultures."
Popular Indian chef Vikas Khanna was another guest of honour at the event and talked about his immigrant experience, struggles that immigrants go through.
"When they give up everything familiar?behind and come to a new land, like an alien, you come as a no person here, you have so much faith in this country that you give everything to it, but still you get bullied. But then there are people like Ian Grillot, who built up for you and give you hope and courage to follow your dream," Khanna said.
"It is not every day that one meets a genuine hero a person who risks his life for another, and takes a bullet for a complete stranger. Ian Grillot is a man who reminds us of the promise of America and its greatness," said Jiten Agarwal, a prominent Houstonian and Chair of the annual gala.
"I have had the very distinct honour of serving in the Obama administration as the assistant Secretary of State - particularly wonderful experience as someone who was born in India and emigrated to US at the age of 5. I am living American dream," said Nisha D Biswal, former Assistant Secretary of State for South/Central Asia.
India House also gave life time achievement award to renowned cardiologist Dr Virendra Mathur, who has completed 60 years of his professional career.