-by Jacqueline Colaco
The excitement about the forthcoming TCS Bangalore 10K Run on 27th May is building up, and I don't want to be left out - even though I can only limp around now on my arthritic legs. So here am I, at age 62, enrolled as one of the most senior participants in the wheel chair event, for the fifth year in a row. I had my first experience of this in 2008, when I had to be up and ready for our race which started at 7 a.m. We were about two dozen under the banner of The Association of People with Disability, lined up in our wheel chairs for the 4 k.m. race starting from Kanteerava Stadium. We were 'wheeling' for APD's cause - one of the beneficiary organisations of the 'I Care' charity event. Some of us were self propelled, others like me had a pusher. I had run many a race at this venue during my student days, never dreaming I'd be back forty odd years later in a run of a 'different' kind ' and FOR A CAUSE! I was here not only to raise funds but also to make a statement that disability need not stop you from 'running' to achieve your purpose in life. Incidentally, in January 2011, I participated along with The APD team in the Mumbai Marathon too!
Well back to the race. My enthusiastic young volunteer pusher (escort) and I were all set to go! And when we did, both of us realized what novices we were at the game. While our co-participants zoomed away, we went zigzagging all over the place. My encounters with wheelchairs thus far had been limited to post operative trips down smooth hospital corridors, gently manoeuvred by expert attenders. My escort was probably a first timer too, and therefore for me and for him, this 'hard to control' adventure began fairly traumatically. I had no intention of going flying out of the wheel chair (no seat belt here) through an accidental bump into a sidewalk. It was initially difficult though to convince my companion that I was not here to win the race, but only to show my spirit for the game. My message did get through in a short while thank goodness, and thereafter the ride was slow, smooth and enjoyable. We had the road to ourselves as we wheeled along some decent ones (both these experiences rare in today's Bangalore), past the Visveswaraya Museum, Chinnaswamy Stadium, Vidhana Soudha, through Cubbon Park and back to the Kanteerava Stadium. The early morning walkers cheered us along our way, as I distributed to them my poem 'Beatitudes of the Disabled'. I also gave my message to TV crews about the need for more awareness among our people that the disabled can be more productive in society's mainstream. This can be made possible, I told them, if basic and better facilities of infrastructure like ramp access to buildings and disabled friendly roads and transport are provided. My message was well received and I hope is bearing some fruit.
After the event, which was a truly fun-filled experience of camaraderie among Bangalore citizens, I came away a tired but happy 'last to finish', with much gratitude to me by now panting escort. I had fulfilled my mission of spreading the vision of this inspiring organization The Association of People with Disability, located at 6th Cross Hutchins Road, Lingarapuram, Bangalore 560084. Ph: 25475861/25475165 - Contact: Ms. Margaret Rose or Ms. Sha Nigar to make a donation. And check out their programmes at www.apd-india.org."My Appeal:- Click here to view"