An Inspirational for Indians, Sagar Baheti was interested in being a cricketer but he had to change his decision as he could not catch the ball. He knew with surety that he has some minor eye problem and could be dealt with a glasses. But when he went to a general Physician, he was told that he had Stargardt disease because of which his eyesight would keep deteriorating. But there is a glimpse of moment four years later, where it can be noticed that Sagar be the first visually-impaired runner to run the prestigious Boston Marathon, but he will be running to raise funds for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually-Impaired.
Here is Sagar shared his challenge & obstacle in own words: “When the doctor first told me that I had this disease, it still had not completely affected me. I still had my vision; I could still drive. I only lost my ability to do certain things like playing cricket but that’s not something I couldn’t live without. But it started getting worse and my family doctor told me that if I wanted to pursue higher studies, I should do it fast and that’s when it really sunk in,” He did not lose hope and realized that he had taken for granted his abilities to read & drive.
Though he had visited many eye experts across the globe but the prognostics remained as grim as ever. Still he did not give up. Having grown up as an athlete playing club cricket his whole life, he decided to take up another sport instead that didn’t rely too much on sight – he stumbled onto running and realized he could run fast. To run the Boston Marathon, one has not just to sign up but qualify it. Also, one is expected to have run an earlier marathon (a distance of 42.2km) but have run it within a specific time to be allowed by the organizers.
Most surprising fact is that only 10% of all marathoners in the world even qualify for Boston and Sagar happens to be one of them. Moreover, he completed one of his full marathons in three hours and six minutes. In the midst of everything else, Sagar also took up cycling and has recently completed the Tour of Nilgiris, which has its cyclists covering 800 plus kilometers of grueling terrain in seven days. This man has lived upto the term of ‘Karam Yogi’ and does not like to talk about his achievements, he is completely focused on his cause. Also, he has developed a new passion about creating support groups for the visually-impaired in India. He has been volunteering at a support group at the Centre for Eye Genetics and Research.
“In our country, being visually-impaired is considered taboo. Not too many people will even come forward and admit to their weaknesses. I try to create awareness as much as I can through the people I meet and interact with, and this coming year I want to spend more time at the centre helping as many as I can”
His words are quoted above. He had decided to spend a lot of time with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired when he will be running the Boston Marathon in April.
Anyone would be astonished by reading his words quoted further: “I want to get knowledge from them. I want to see how they are training people to commute in cities using public transport. I want to bring back something. That’s the bigger goal. This is just a starting point.”
Sagar is determined to take up every opportunity to spread awareness about people living with disabilities.
“Being visually impaired is a fight. It’s not easy. And it will be great if our society could be more inclusive and aware of those who live with disabilities. It’s not that people are bad but sometimes they are in such a rush, that they don’t realize that even a few minutes that they can spare to help someone, will go a long way.” He added further.
Currently, Sagar has enough vision to see obstructions in his way when he goes running, but he can only cycle when he is with a group. He says that the one lesson he has learned from life is to never take anything for granted.
“I never appreciated even the small things that I could do before I was diagnosed. For instance, right now I can’t even shave. It can be hard when you can’t do the simplest things by yourself. It’s hard when you can’t recognize your friend as they walk past you. I am now appreciative of everything that I have. It took something like this to happen for me to learn that lesson.”