To take part in Tunisia games, they host a dance charity event

Neglected by the government, four differently-abled athletes from Madurai district are constantly looking for novel ways to raise funds in a bid to help themselves take part in the International Paralympic Committee Athletic Games to be held next month.

S. Gurunathan, M.T. Poonkodi, P. Padaithalaivanand K.J. Anthony, who have been qualified to represent India at the International event in Tunisia, hosted a dance charity event in association with Youth Lead India, at a mall here on Sunday.

City-based dance teams enthralled the audience with their performance. “We are all pleased to take part in such a worthwhile cause,” said Hussain of Anything For Dance (AFD) group.

Speaking amidst loud cheers from the crowd, Mr. Gurunathan (30) said, “We are handicapped by lack of financial support to travel to Tunisia and not by will power. We need your support and blessings to help us take part in the event.”

The campaigner was a gold medallist in discus throw at the National Para Games held in 2009. He contends that differently-abled athletes can also bring laurels to the nation by high-grade performances if only the government comes to the rescue of such sportspersons.

Differently-abled players in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Delhi are honoured with cash awards for their achievements, while Tamil Nadu players are yet to enjoy the government’s support, he lamented.

The athletes are also undergoing rigorous training to qualify for the Asian Para Games scheduled to take place in South Korea in November.

“Sport changes the person with disability in an equally profound way by empowering them to realise their full potential. Through athletic competition, persons with disabilities acquire vital social skills and develop independence,” said Poonkudi, a woman athlete.

Appeal

The champions urged the government to provide financial assistance to the differently-abled athletes to encourage them.

N.T. Prashanth, Founder, Youth Lead India, appealed to kind-hearted donors to come forward and help these talented persons who are capable of bagging gold at the event. “If we don't support them, then no one else would,” he said.

To help achieve their fund-raising target Youth Lead India has launched an online appeal via Facebook. The team has plans to raise by May-end Rs. 5.60 lakh towards their goal or none of them would be able to make it to Tunisia.

Mr. Prashanth could be contacted on 86430-50002 and Mr. Gurunathan on 94420-09980