Aditya Mehta met with an accident five years ago. But this did not stop him from following his passion to cycle his way through some of the toughest routes of India. Not only this, he is also helping several para-athletes with technical and personal support. Know more about the wonders he has been doing.
“I was the naughtiest kid in my family. Once I failed in Telugu and, scared of getting a bashing from my dad, I ran away to Goa with my classmates,” Aditya Mehta recalls.
Coming from a business family, he had a strong inkling towards business. He started a textile enterprise which was an instant success. Everything was going as planned, until Mehta met with an ugly accident which changed his life forever. It made him an amputee.
“I was on my bike and a bus hit me from the back – twice. I still remember that horrible day. I was lying on the road, wounded and hurt, but nobody came to help me. I kept asking for help but no one stopped. So I crawled some distance and then a guy who worked near my office saw me. He took me to the hospital,” Mehta says.
Not ready to let this accident take over his life, he worked on his weakness and converted it into an opportunity. He cycled his way from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, becoming the first para-cyclist to ever attempt this route which covered 36 Indian cities.
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He has also cycled from Manali to Khardung La, which has been the toughest experience for Mehta. “It was very hard. My nose started bleeding, I hurt my leg, my skin got cut at various places and I did not even shower for 3-4 days. Not only this, there was no proper facility of toilet that I could use along the way. I guessed if I could manage to do this route, I could face any challenges in life,” Mehta says.
Passionate about cycling, Mehta has also won double silver medals at the Asian Para-Cycling Championships held in 2013. “Over a period of time, I realized that it is very hard for the para-athletes to sustain themselves. The equipment are very expensive and there are hardly any sponsors to support them,” Mehta says.
To make things a little easier for para-athletes, Mehta started the Aditya Mehta Foundation (AMF) in December, 2013. The organization takes care of all the needs of para-athletes and helps them with equipment, healthcare and other necessities.
“My dad was the inspiration behind AMF. He always advised me to do something which is good for humanity. Having gone through the challenges myself, I wanted to make it a little easier for others facing similar difficulties,” he says.
Through AMF, Aditya and his team approach people suffering from similar issues, motivate them and take required sessions. Not only this, the Foundation also provides special cycles and other gear to its beneficiaries. It also connects them with the hospitals and doctors that can help them apart from getting them the best deals when it comes to buying other necessary equipment.
“There is a lot more that goes on besides helping the athletes with logistics. Helping them with proper diet, managing their routines and encouraging from time to time is something which goes hand in hand,” says Haritha Kyanam, who works with AMF.
The organization that completely runs on funds has managed to provide a special cycle worth Rs. 1,25,000 to one of their beneficiaries Abhishek, who has been afflicted with Polio and is a strong para-cyclist.
“For the past one year, I have been trying really hard to raise funds for these athletes, but the response has been lukewarm. It is so hard to get people who are genuinely interested in supporting us,” says Aditya.
“For me, it is slightly easier to get sponsors as I am on the field and more visible. But sportspersons who are involved in indoor games like swimming have to struggle a lot more with finding supporters. That is why I started this Foundation – to bring these people to light,” Mehta adds.
In the future, Mehta wants to open a sports academy for the differently abled. “I know how difficult it becomes for a sportsperson to sustain his dream if he is disabled. When I first started raising funds, I was very shy. Hailing from a business family, the idea of asking people for money did not please me. I spent money from my own pocket to initially help others. But eventually, I realized that if I wanted to create large scale impact, I needed to ask people for help,” he says.
They are currently raising funds through a campaign on Milaap to support three other para-athletes. They aim to raise Rs.1,00,000 which will be used to help besides Abhishek, Srinivas Naidu, a swimmer who needs an artificial leg and Alok Mandal, a cycle mechanic who is an international para-cyclist and has been trying to get a sponsor for many years to support him. AMF will be presenting a road bike to him on 25th of this month.
These three amazing athletes are limited only by their circumstances, and AMF, through public support is trying to give them a chance to live their dreams. You can contribute an amount as little as Rs.500. The campaign ends on 31st October.