The story of 24-year-old Divyang boy Shailesh Kumar is truly inspiring.
Kumar, born and raised in Gaya in Bihar, has defied all odds to lead a happy and satisfying life.
He had twist of fate when he injured his leg in a football match. Unable to walk to his room, he requested his friend to help him out before tumbling over each other. First his friend lost his balance and they both fell, hurting Shailesh in his spine.
The spinal injury, apart from losing mobility, led to loss of sensation and loss of bladder and bowel control. The long period of bed rest gave him body sores and urinary tract infection. He then spent another year getting used to moving around in wheelchair.
Always being a sportman in life and in heart, he took to playing basketball from the wheelchair. Presently working as a basketball coach at Chandigarh Spinal Rehab, he says:
But people who knew me realised that I would be better at marathon. I was very quick and could push the wheelchair fast and with strength. So, I too realised that I must give it a try. That’s how I started taking part in marathons.
In a marathon race, he was spotted by IIM-B alumnus and co-founder of The Ganga trust, Vaidyanathan. Being a victim of spinal injury himself, Vaidyanathan spotted a winner in Kumar who has become India’s fastest wheelchair based marathon runner. As luck would have, The Ganga Trust was a foundation for supporting rehabilitation of Divyangs.
The Ganga Trust has now joined hands with Fuel A Dream and are crowdfunding money to buy a world-class wheelchair which will enable Kumar to take part in marathon races in the forthcoming 2020 Paralympics.
Using the regular wheelchair for marathons is very difficult. Taking in a lot of energy and stamina, it becomes a major disadvantage for the marathon runner. Now the goal is to raise enough money to buy the special wheelchair for Shailesh. He comments:
There are a lot of people who have already supported me but I hope a few more come forth, so that I can compete internationally and bring laurels to the country.
Shailesh is an inspiration to many. Talent can be found in each individual, it is just a matter of brushing it up. We hope that Shailesh recieves adequate money for the wheelchair and makes us proud in the Paralympics. All the Best!