Vinod Jeet Singh Rawat (34) was just 6 years old when he was hit by a speeding truck while returning from school. His left leg had to be amputated and the road ahead seemed dark and full of hurdles. But on Sunday, as he ran in the Mumbai half-marathon, it was clear he had left that debacle behind. Rawat covered 21 km in 3 hours and 48 minutes. Running alongside was his bride, Diana Peters, whom he wed the day before. “Instead of leaving for our honeymoon, we ran the half-marathon. She kept passing me ice and water whenever I got cramps along the way. I never thought such a lovely girl would choose me," he says of his wife whom he had met and fallen in love with at his former workplace.
Life has changed a lot from the time he felt he would reach nowhere in life because of his disability. For years after his accident, Rawat had to use crutches for moving around, as doctors were unable to find an artificial leg for him. “I faced a lot of rejection. Everyone said I was now useless and would be a burden on my family forever," he says .
Finally, in 1997, he came in contact with Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahayata Samiti, ( BMVSS) an NGO, that provided him an artificial limb, popularly known as Jaipur Foot. BMVSS provides free fitment of limbs to the physically handicapped.
Soon Rawat was back on his feet and threw away the crutches. “When I started walking normally, people who thought I looked ugly started complimenting my good looks,” he laughs. But he craved for recognition of the fact that even a disabled person can perform physically daunting tasks.
Today, rock climbing, swimming, and long distance running are all a matter of routine for him. He has participated in the Gulf Monsoon rallies, dirt track racing, and other motor-sports.
Not just sporting activities, Rawat leads a physically rigorous life, otherwise too. His job as a marketing professional takes him all over Mumbai. “I do about 150 km on my motorbike every day,” he says. What is his most cherished dream? “I want to become an inspiration for the physically challenged. I believe one can overcome any handicap in life,” he says. It is no armchair sermonising, Rawat has proved it through his deeds.