On January 18, some will run to set a record, while some will run to test their fitness level. Sunita Sancheti, 44, will participate in the 12th edition of Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon to fight for the rights of the differently-abled.
Sancheti was 16 when she injured her spinal cord in an accident and became wheelchair bound. A resident of Andheri, Sancheti often struggled while growing up because of the lack of disabled-friendly infrastructure in the city.
She now fights for the rights of the differently-abled, by taking part in events such as the Mumbai Marathon.
This year, Sancheti will participate in the 'champions with disability category' to portray the life full of limitations that a differently-abled person has to lead in this city. Sancheti was a pioneer in convincing the organisers to start a wheelchair event at the Mumbai Marathon.
"I believe that people's attitude towards the differently-abled will change only if more and more people like us participate in public events and make themselves visible. Such marathons are ideal platforms. I participate in the wheelchair event and encourage others to take part to increase awareness," said Sancheti, who studied accounts and now runs her family business.
She has been participating in the wheelchair event for eight years now. This year, it is a 2.5km category. With missions of 'inclusive society' and 'nothing about us, without us', through NINA Foundation and ADAPT (Able Disabled All People Together), Sancheti started "wheel chair events" in the city and conducted access audits of corporate establishments and public spaces.
"We get concessions for railway travel. The irony is that we can hardly access the platforms or foot over bridges or public toilets," she said.
"Through the marathon, we want to urge the government to implement differently-abled friendly infrastructure in schools, colleges, buses and railway stations," she said.