4,200 km ride to create awareness on differently-abled rights

“I want the support of people and corporates in setting this up,†he added.

CHENNAI: Setting an example of beating the odds, Lalithkumar Natarajan, a 37-year-old paraplegic from Tirupur, is going to ride 4,200 km from Kanyakumari to Khardung La, on his customised bike, to create awareness on the rights of the differently-abled and to inform them about services they can avail for free through his NGO. Since 1991, when he was 11-years-old, he lost partial sensation and mobility beneath the waist due to transverse myelitis, thus leaving him dependent on his arms for everything.

“Differently-abled people are unaware of their rights and that is what I want to change, and also drive away notions that we can’t travel like others can,” he told Deccan Chronicle. He plans to start a countrywide chain of centres for disability education, employment, advocacy and rehabilitation (CDEEARR), under his NGO called Love and Acceptance that would help people with spinal cord injuries.

“These centres will be able to provide medical help, physiotherapy, assistance in training and jobs, and also impart information on spinal injuries, autism, Down’s syndrome and stroke patients,” he said. “I want the support of people and corporates in setting this up,” he added. Since 2014, through the NGO, he has been distributing urinary catheters, wheelchairs and commode chairs for free to people, who are unable to afford these, across India.

Currently, the NGO has benefited over 150 people by giving them equipment free of cost. And Lalithkumar has a dream, to see education and advocacy centres sprout in the country to help the differently-abled find vocational training and employment so that they can be self-sufficient. Taking a stride ahead, he is set to ride to Khardung La, world’s highest motorable road, with his bike, designed by him and customised by Royal Enfield.

A year back, he got his Royal Enfield 500cc, customised to be operated by arms, and with an extra carriage fitted on the side. Lalithkumar is excited to traverse the journey covering the entire stretch from South to North, on June 12. “The 15-day trip is expected to cost Rs 4.5lakh, and we also plan to meet the Prime Minister once we are in Delhi. Spinal cord injuries not on the list of 21 disabilities recognised by the Centre, in India, and that must change,” he said.

Leading the group are an ex-Army man, Major Venugopal, and his son Vishal, and accompanying him are two differently-abled people from Chennai and Bengalaru. The trip is expected to cost Rs 4.5 lakh for which the group is looking forward to receiving support from corporate groups.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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