May 2019: One of the familiar faces at every marathon has been that of Amarjeet Singh Chawla, also known as the Sporty Sikh because of the laurels he has earned not only on the Running Track, but also for several other sports. What sets Amarjeet apart from other Runners and Athletes is that not only did he start participating in Sports and adventure activities, in 2004 at the rather late age of 48 but that he was visually Impaired and had lost his sight completely to Macular Degeneration by the time he turned 40.
For anyone less mentally stronger than him, being sighted till the age of 13, losing vision gradually and attaining a condition of Total Blindness at the age of 40, would have been totally unnerving and may have led to severe depression. But nothing could keep this Sporty Sikh down. Between the age of 48 and 63, this lively, ebullient and free-spirited gentleman has clocked up an astonishing number of medals, trophies, awards and other honours in every possible field, be it Running, Walking, Trekking and Mountaineering, Swimming and many other Track, Water and Mountain-related sports.
Now Amarjeet is all set to add another feather to his cap – his latest initiative – Running from Mumbai to Pune, a distance of about 150 km starting on Friday 31st May, from Goregaon Sports Club. He is promoting the cause of raising awareness about the issue of ‘No More Avoidable blindness’ an initiative of the National institute of Ophthalmology (NIO) Vision Marathon.
The Plan is as follows:
31st May start from Goregaon Sports Club, Mumbai
The first stop for the night will be around Panvel
1st June start from Panvel
Cross the Khandala Ghat and stop for the night around Lonavala
2nd June Start from Lonavala and reach Pune, at the Rabindranath Tagore school
So far this amazing man has participated in all the four editions of *NIO Vision Marathon* not just because he himself is visually impaired but because he truly believes in the cause of “No More Avoidable Blindness”.
In his own words, Amarjeet says “Why do you pity a blind person? Just because you think that he is comparatively less-able than you? Look around, there are some jewels in this World whose life-stories will give you goosebumps. There are some Blind, “not so normal” people who have bagged huge appreciations, medals or awards, fame and respect and I am one of them.” He has already participated in 174 races, 106 half marathons, 64 10-km runs and four ultra marathons. His daughter, Guneet Kaur, quipped: “For every girl her father is the first dear person in her life. But for me, my father is so much more. With so many achievements in his kitty, he makes all of us proud.”
Dr. Aditya Kelkar and his Team have performed 700 free Eye surgeries last year for patients below the poverty line as part of their NIO Vision Marathon Program and hope to do even more. NIO Vision Marathon aims to educate and create awareness about avoidable blindness & other eye diseases, through Amarjeet’s Mumbai to Pune Run.
*What you can do*
1. Join for the entire or part of the distance, call Nikhil Shah of Run Buddies who is organizing the event on 8275203700
2. Just show up at one of the points and cheer. You can bring water or food for the Runners, if possible
3. If you have some simple stay arrangements for the Runners, do let Nikhil know at 8275203700