When COVID-19 hit India, we jumped into action to help them prepare for the challenges,even before the lockdown started in India. It is a special concern for Visually Impaired as they mostly rely on touch.
The ones with Visibility disorder from needy families are a diverse group, experiencing different hardships in accessing information on prevention and risk of infection.
Firstly we shared COVID-19 precautions as per WHO guidelines with them through audio messages with translations in different regional languages like Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada. The guidelines was shared with the volunteers, who then communicated with the visually impaired in their respective languages either by phone or whatsapp.
We parallelly prepared a list of Visuallyimpaired who were in city, or left for their villages / hometown to stay with parents. We also checked with blind Institute or NGOs about the measures they had taken at the premises and hostel facility. If there was any shortage, we helped fulfill the requirement for hand gloves, masks, and sanitizers with the help of donations. About 600 hand gloves, several masks, sanitizers were distributed prior to lockdown.
We soon realized that that there were quite a lot of visually impaired elderly left alone at home. This prompted us to start assigning phone buddy to each of them to keep track of how they were doing. The buddy would keep the phone numbers of neighbor, maid and local ward ration shop (government outlet) and other helpline numbers to support the visually impaired.
We soon started receiving calls for help from the needy families esp. Mumbai slums for groceries and medicines. The daily wage workers were out of cash and no means to buy essentials. Many times the free food distribution and ration was available but they were unaware of this information. So the buddy volunteer became a very critical part to reach the information or the essential items. Over the last three weeks we have supported at least 200 families to get their ration and essentials.
The Phone Buddy also encourage and motivate the visually impaired to take care of their health and fitness and improve immunity by explaining how to do simple home workouts. This keeps them happy and healthy in these difficult times.
Happy to announce a new addition Pinkathon Day ‘See From The Heart’ to promote inclusion of specially abled people. This year 3 cities namely Bengaluru (Cubbon), Mumbai (BKC) and Pune (Ghorpadi) have taken the lead and participate in this worldwide celebration.
On Oct 19th, Mumbai BKC had an an exclusive session for Visually impaired runners at Mumbai with the Sports doctor Dr. Eshwar part of the expert team joining Bhumika along with runners from mumbai as Guides !
There was great support Suju Vidya Terence, Bharathudu, Amit & team.
On Sunday Oct 20th 2019,we celebrated the 2nd edition of Pinkathon Day in Bengaluru.We are Happy to announce a new addition #PinkathonDay ‘See From The Heart’ to promote inclusion of specially abled people. This year 3 cities namely Bengaluru (Cubbon), Mumbai (BKC) and Pune (Ghorpadi) have taken the lead and participate in this worldwide celebration.
We had the SpeciallyAbled and VisuallyImpaired girls as apart of the celebrations.
We had sari draping, to show that a dress can never stop us from running.
The victors group is a group of survivors put up an exhibition of their paintings. It’s a must see. They do fabric painting, canvas painting, kalamkari painting etc. They also make artistic thread and beads jewellery.
Manoranjini did an awesome Zumba
The Cubbon and Lalbagh training girls Vandana, Vasanthi, Kanti, Savita, Anita and team presented contemporary dance coreographed by Rithvik.
Visually impaired athletes…joined us from far and near. We felicitated their achievements.
A fusion dance performance by the Bannerghatta girls Swati, Rajlaxmi, Manisha, Kiran, Pavana, Vijaya and Shilpa.
Group dance by the Basaveshwarnagar training girls. They are doing a mashup of 5 language songs to convey unity in diversity in India.
Dr Ashu and survivors of Myshah foundation joined us.
We had cake cutting to mark the momentous occasion.
Thanks to Kajol bhatia and team for enthusiatic pariticipation.
Special thanks to Running Lab for sponsoring the breakfast.
Thanks to all who came volunteered and encouraged the team of specially Abled and guide runner
What can be called an ‘Accomplished Meet’? It’s at the Quarterly meet, when you have many satisfied faces, it’s when you announce the achievements of the year with great pride, it’s when the participants are awarded and appreciated for their achievements….
All Hands Meet 2019 was one such function with the Bhumika’s Training Team , cancer shero, care givers, visually impaired and sighted guide runners, held at the Eagle Ridge Resort in Begur, Bengaluru on 1st June 2019. It was the 4th year anniversary of trainings for girls. It was an amalgamation of a formal annual review meeting and an informal anniversary celebration where the leads of various locations had come together in person to share their updates of the year.
The meet started with a question and answer session by Dr. Eshwar who is a sports doctor from California, followed by the formal inauguration. As the objective of the meet was, the leads from various locations of Mumbai, Pune, Vizag, Delhi attended the function through a web conference and updated their location progress.
Head Coach of the Training girls, Bhumika Patel wonderfully hosted the event. The awards to the achievers of the years were given away by the eminent personalities from the marathon running sphere like Praveen Shetty, Asima Sultana. The veteran runner, cancer survivor and the active participant Uma Pai cheered up the atmosphere with her speech. Cult fitness was represented by one of their senior members who spoke about a fruitful partnership for supporting the visually impaired training initiative.
A team of cancer survivors from Myshah Foundation arrived and delivered touching but inspiring stories about their fight with cancer. The function was graced by Pragya Prasun, acid attack survivor and Nari Shakti Award winner. Pragya runs an NGO- Atijeevan Foundation that helps acid attack survivors become economically independent.
The function was a huge success, not to mention the partying and the games the training girls enjoyed after the formal function was done.
Boston Marathon 2019…an incredible experience… for each one who attempted. Out of the 9 International Full Marathons I completed since 2015…. this was the most enriching episode in my running journey, since this was my first international marathon as an official guide runner, and more so because it was to Erich Manser, my fellow IBMer and fellow marathoner.
I was just recovering from my first ultra – marathon 145 km, with shin injury after me, where 6 of my visually impaired mentees successfully finished the run in January this year, when I received the confirmation about the Boston marathon guide running. Nervousness clouded me soon after the confirmation, but I took up the challenge realizing that this will be the most important milestone in my guide running experience and for bringing home more awareness in this area. I have mentored a number of visually impaired athletes and their guides for long distance running and simultaneously have run many races as a guide runner myself. But this race event was and will always be a special one. After all this was the world renowned Boston Marathon and also I knew Erich not only as a fellow IBMer, but as the World Champion Iron man and my excitement was at its peak since the day I registered as official sighted guide.
Like Erich already quoted in his blog, yes we were those virtual friends of the Hi – Hello kind, meeting online occasionally over work. But when Erich learnt about my initiatives of mentoring the visually impaired and sighted guides in Bangalore, my volunteering as a Head Coach Pinkathon Training, Samarthanam Trust to the Disabled and Mitra Jyothi Institute for the Blind,for supporting the underprivileged as a part of ‘See from the Heart’ initiative, he regularly lent his invaluable advice in all my endeavours. We occasionally had telephonic discussions about how to exploit technology for accessibility. The pieces of advice from Erich have always been so priceless for he has his own set of experiences as a Technology savvy marathon runner and therefore has so much of cognizance to share.
I met Erich face to face for the first time in Boston when we picked up the race kit.
Impage:Athletes with Disability Bib pickup
Guide and Blind Bib collection with Erich
We did the Shakeout run a day before race and we gelled together so quickly. During the run we discussed preferred usage of tether. By using a tether – a short hooped cord – both runners are connected at the hand to negotiate the course.
We also discussed that the run will be at conversation pace. Other things included race day weather and gear, water station stops, adjustments to the tether and about how to carry out effective communication during the run, how to deal with crowded sections of the run etc.
I further got to spend more time with him and the other athletes at a team dinner and team brunch organized by ‘Team With A Vision’
It was a marathon information session as well as stage for the other athletes to share their previous race experiences. We were given tips on race, guide running and logistics. The heart- warming get-together helped clear pre-race doubts and fears.
The transport arrangements to the venue, special temperature controlled area at the start point, the post – race bags pickup and arrangements at VIP tent; IBM and NBC media representatives to interview us at finish line,’Team With A Vision’ volunteers to guide, every arrangement so orderly.
I knew last year was extreme weather with rain and severe cold and it made me more nervous to see forecast had showers again this year. My acclimatization runs in Boston prior to the race, helped me get settled in. Being prone to cough and cold, I took special precaution with intake of immunity boosters like vit c etc. Prior to the race, I did a marathon bus tour to familiarize myself with the route.and prepared for the changing weather conditions, with water resistant as well as cold resistant running gear.
Two day prior to full marathon, enjoyed a rainy weather Boston 5K with my daughter and husband.
The route and the weather during the Boston Marathon really made the run more arduous, but I could clearly see how prepared Erich was. The tough ascents, mercurial weather with rain at the outset followed by hot sun and later thunderstorms did not seem to affect him at all. Though the rains in the last few kilometres masked the sweltering heat, the steep ascents were difficult for me. Hills are a total ‘No No’ for me when it comes to the latter part of a race. But as Erich and I had discussed earlier, we took a conservative approach and slowed down. The Heartbreak hill ascent after 25 km was darn cruel on the quads, but Erich motivated me and I overcame the difficulty. Later when Erich encountered fatigue after mile 23, it was my turn to encourage him. Thus with good mutual rhythm we pulled through the tough route and picked up pace near the finish line. Chatting all the way, cracking jokes and boosted up by the crowds and fellow runners cheering, “Team Vision go! ““Erich and Bhumika, you guys rock!!!” all the way through the route, my family and friends from India cheered loud close to finish line, made our finish so easy but emotional.
In my years of training the visually impaired and running as a guide to them, there have been numerous anecdotes to tell, numerous incidents, happenings. But none of them can beat the fantastic experience of Boston marathon. Running apart, there was great encouragement from my workplace IBM and colleagues across the world sent amazing messages of support.It was a great learning experience. I have been reading Erich’s blog about his experiences at the Boston Marathon over and over again; he ends it with citing and I too would reiterate the same, “Kindness is a very powerful thing. Though we are from very different places, we will now be forever joined by kindness”.
Rightly said, the only thing that is constant is change. But I’d like to add to it. Drastic changes in life only happen if you keep working towards your goals tirelessly.
Hi, I am Bhumika Patel, 44; Global Program Manager – Cybersecurity at IBM.
I started running in 2009, but it was since 2013 that my running career flourished. I represented India at World Master Athletics Championships in Brazil. I participated in first Pinkathon with 3000 women from my company winning the Award for Best Corporate participation-IBM, Maximum Participation from a corporate – IBM and won my first Pinkathon 5k (individual) and corporate 5k team winner. With the same awards in 2014, this time with 2000 women from IBM; I also won the first prize in 21 k and the Hero of Pinkathon award. This continued in 2015, when I completed my First International at London Marathon and made yet another 21k podium at Pinkathon. This was when I began volunteering for Pinkathon Training with Milind Soman’s encouragement and soon as Headcoach for the Blind People’s Association Ahmedabad, Devnar School For Blind-Hyderabad, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and Mitra Jyoti Institute for Blind, and several homes for visually impaired across India.
Today I lead corporate/women running teams in various locations across India.
In 2015 I completed my First International at London Marathon. In between the hard training days, I would try to adjust my give back to these women and kids, which I found very challenging at start but gradually I settled down into a routine. I found it very satisfying to encourage and support cancer survivors and visually impaired to run. And happiness reaches its zenith when they scale kilometres or cross the marathon finish lines.
While training non-runner women is not an easy task, training visually impaired girls from an underprivileged background can be more challenging. In 2016, I started training the visually impaired and alongside started conducted separate Guide runners’ trainings which later shifted to Cult centers across the city as workshops to sensitize about challenges faced by the visually impaired with techniques to guide them, as a part of Pinkathon training. We had to ensure a strong back up of volunteers from among the Pinkathon training girls and corporate/running community for coordination, pick up, drop, running gear collection, distribution-storage, correspondence like emails, leave applications from offices or colleges of the visually impaired, crew support during training/races etc. Amidst all this, I completed several global marathons- London, Berlin, Copenhagen,Tokyo,Chicago,Frankfurt within 4hrs.
Thus the visually impaired training resulted in stupendous team work by empowered women. My work with Pinkathon Training was recognised internationally and I was voted as GameChangers2017 ’21 Women who are transforming the world through Running’ by Women’s Running Magazine USA in 2017.
The team have evolved and become more organised and self driven over the years. There is a lot I have learnt in my journey of training the visually impaired. In spite of varying degrees of vision loss, these young girls and boys have not a thing to sulk about. The girls saw a significant improvement in fitness and timings improved over the previous runs at Pinkathon. Running workshops were conducted on running, strength training and recovery with guiding techniques and sensitization, at Cult centers across the city for men and women both, as there was growing demand to become guides. This was a major activity carried out simultaneously with visually impaired training. There was active participation from corporates and the project Received the India South Asia Outstanding Volunteer Work 2018 Award by IBM along with Grants.
These achievements were noted by media and Blind institutes contacted me after listening to news in All India Radio broadcast news for Blind and many more visually impaired were encouraged to join.
In July 2018, 15 visually impaired runners were selected from among 25 to train for the half and the full marathon on Oct 21th at Bengaluru. We started taking the necessary steps in a jiffy like conducting their blood tests, their physical assessments, planning out their workout regimen and diet charts as per their report analyses. Me and Milind already knew their grit and after witnessing their enthusiasm and achievements and in early 2018 decided that the runners who complete the full marathon will be trained for the Spirit of Pinkathon run from Mysuru to Bengaluru which is roughly 145 km. What happened in the 6 months of training, is something I will treasure for a lifetime. The guide team and the doctors kept on their toes to make sure the runners complete the runs as per plan, free of any pain or injury. There were moments of fun, laughter, pain, difficulties. The tough times always started from bringing the visually impaired to a central venue in the morning wee hours, three to four times a week. It was astonishing to see how the girls and boys actively attended trainings and later then their office/college with the same amount of enthusiasm. On Pinkathon Day/October 21, 2018, History was created as India Book of Records awarded a certificate to 23 year old visually impaired girl Suneetha N D, who became the first visually impaired girl in India to finish a full marathon (42.2km)
There were a lot many write ups, news articles, videos and interviews posted on various platforms about this event which happened from 23rd to 25th January 2019. I was stupefied by the tremendous love and appreciation by the country. Karnataka Olympic Association for the reward and the department of youth services rewarded the athletes at the finish line! And thank you Pinkathon and Milind Soman for a grand commendation. Their generous gesture will be a prime motivation not only for them but also for numerous athletes pursuing their dreams in sports. I am invited by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired to run as Official Guide at the upcoming Boston Marathon 2019 and its a significant milestone in bringing International exposure and expertise to help the athletes with a brighter future!
Happy to have organized the first-of-its-kind #Shero10K with 200+ cancer victors/caregivers with presence of eminent oncology experts & hospitals under one umbrella!
The Shero10k is our way of making a small attempt to salute the spirit, strength and courage of all our Cancer Sheros. The word Shero is derived from ‘Survivor Heros’. These are victor who braved cancer, hence these victors are called Sheros.
Cancer not only shatters the patient physically mentally and financially, but also traumatizes the entire family of the patient. In this case, all those associated with the patient also need counseling as much as the patient needs. As a part of the year long Shero initiative, Pinkathon Training Bengaluru introduced a novel concept of Garegivers Training. This idea struck us after watching our cancer victors scaling more distance, becoming stronger after undergoing trainings at our training centres at Bannerghatta, Lalbaugh and Cubbon.
Conventionally the immediate family was termed as caregivers. Our program has expanded the horizon of caregivers to outside the immediate family by introducing the concept of Caregiver Guides. Our program encourages not only immediate family member but friends, relatives, peers, hospital staff, Doctors to be part of the Caregiver Guide and accompany the victors in their health and fitness regimen.
The Shero health and fitness program with caregiver guides has been designed with help of medical professionals and therapists like yoga and meditation, laughter, art therapy. Cancer Shero Run is a celebration of the effort by victors, caregivers guides to tide over the phase.
21st July 2018 marked the launch of the one of its kind of training initiatives of our Cancer Sheros at Pinkathon Training Location – Cubbon Park. Since July 2018 a 20 weeks training schedule has been followed which has been a great success where the victors participated along with caregivers guides to scale up distance . The remarkable outcome of this was when our victors themselves became guides to Visually impaired underprivileged girls helping them improve their fitness and complete challenging distance like half Marathon. We also saw victors like Uma Pai, Geethashekhar and Ravi going out much beyond their call of duty by giving a strong a pus to this initiative by bringing major oncology institutions under one umbrella. There will be many more shining victors in future.
This initiative would not have been possible without the strong support of Milind Soman, Apollo Hospitals and all others.
The event was a 10k run by Shero Victors and their caregivers guides started at 6 am with distribution of T shirts. The lamp lighting brought in sanctity to the event before the flag off of the run. The lamp was lit by Pinkathon Mentor Milind Soman and honourable dignitaries Apollo Hospital, Manipal Hospital, Shankara Hospital, Myshah Foundation and Head Coach Bhumika Patel.
Milind Soman first gave a welcome speech, followed by shero training report presented by Bhumika Patel. The best part of the event was the victors sharing their stories on stage as a motivation for everyone and Truly Yours artists performed a short skit based on it.
The run began at 6.30 with flag off by Milind Soman and he also led the participants along with other volunteers and pacers on the route. The sheros seemed ecstatic as they scaled their kilometres, as they were actually scaling towards good health. After the run was over there was an art exhibition of the art creations made by the sheros and the caregivers. The concluding part of the event was as much exciting since there was an announcement of the Santa Christmas tree. The felicitation of hospitals for the support, distribution of medals and certificates to the participants and vote of thanks concluding the event. The happy and satisfied participants who left the venue with smiling faces was an evidence of the grand success of the program.
Shero 10K powered by Apollo Hospitals Press release
HSR Bellandur training was launched on Jun 30 2018 at Bellandur Central Mall. There was good participation from the residential communities around the mall. There was good support from Divya G, Saroj, Divya M and Rashmita in giving a continuity to the initative.
Sapna and Suverchas have been the most consistent training girls. On Oct 21st they took on the role og guide runner for visually impaired for girls from Mitra Jyoti Institute of Blind. The visually impaired girls and boys training happens 3 days a week at HSR location. More are expected to join from coming weeks.
Since 2016 we started training as guide runners for visuallyimpaired.
These Girls and Boys are from underprivileged background and the challenges are immense.
Leading Ngo’s have nominated some of its best visually impaired athletes. These athletes have been selected after assessing their performances in previous races, Bangalore 10k was one of them. Since then, they have been undergoing rigorous trainings for around 6 days a week with my team.
Starting with their whole body physiotherapy assessments and blood tests, the athletes were given their nutrition support which included energy drink, pre run snack and nutritious breakfast post run.
They have also been provided running gear and shoes.
Their workout consist of 3 running days, two days of strength training, per week.
Also foam rolling, stretching sessions. Doctors and physiotherapists attend the sessions regularly to assess their health.
Apart from this there are few athletes from the Mitra Jyoti institute for Blind who join us regularly.
Pics from Pinkathon Bengaluru 2016
I strongly believe that every human being has her set of rights to achieve what normal people do. It was in a Pinkathon event that I learned that there were hundreds of them willing to run and undergo training and the journey started since then. These visually impaired women & kids are from underprivileged background and the challenges are immense.
Event: Training session at JP Nagar & HSR Samarthanam, Meet and Greet with new members, 2016
Event: First Aid session for Visually Impaired by Alert India, Jagadish, 7 Sep 2017
Event: Self Defence Session for Visually Impaired, Ritika and team, Sep 2017
Event :Bengaluru 10k training at Stadium.June 1st 2018 , Footballer Sunil Chhetri’s dad joined us as Guide runner for the day !
Event : Visually impaired athletes running Bangalore Marathon
Schedule 1 : Body assessments of VI runners
Date : 25th August 2018
About 10 visually impaired runners of Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled who will be running the Bangalore Marathon on 21st October 2018 are heading speedily towards progress. Since they will be the first set of runners in India to run a full marathon, their schedule is under stringent surveillance by their coach Bhumika and her team.
They underwent body assessment today with physiotherapists. This body assessment is the first major step in their training process since their diets for the 2 months to come will be decided according to their test reports.
Thanks to Dr Sitaraman from PhysiobeFit for the assessments and advise.
Event : Strength Training sessions at the gym and Kanteerava stadium, Aug to Oct 2018
Event : Running workouts, three days a week at Kanteerava Stadium, HSR Layout, some sessions at Bannerghatta
Many thanks to the running community for their donations of running gear and accessories. Huge contribution from Runners 360 and Pacemakers
Bengaluru trainings first started with Cubbon Park location! We achieved a major milestone onn Jan 26th 2018, as we celebrated 100 weeks of #PinkathonTrainings at Bengaluru #Cubbon Park !! Thank you Vasundhara for organic millet cake and thanks to PinkathonMilind Soman for encouragement and support !
Pinkathonday Celebrations continued at Cubbon Park on 27 Oct too! With medals and prize distribution.
A big thank you Balasubramaniam, Vasanthi, Vandana, Vasundhara,Preeti and team for leading and supporting the various events at Cubbon Park.