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Blind-Run to open our eyes

Press Release
124   //    21 Feb 2019, 18:55 IST

Representational image
Representational image

February 21, 2019, Mumbai: Ever wondered how life would be for the blind? A world of unrelenting darkness! Lucky are those who have the gift of vision but not everyone is equally fortunate. Every year thousands of people are losing their vision due to various factors - but fortunately, many of them have a second shot at regaining it, thanks to the cutting-edge corneal transplant procedures. However, cornea availability is very low as eye donation is just a fraction of our requirement.

What we take for granted, is a dream for a blind unfortunate person. Feeling for these people, and to promote eye donation in particular and organ donation in general, Rtn. Roop Betala will run 89.1 Km Blind Folded (Along with Three pacers Mr. Manoj Soni, Advocate Amar Bhatt, Mr.Dipesh Gindra) covering 89 Heritage and Historic sites of Mumbai.

This is done as part of Rotary District Conference on February 23 and 24, 2019 at Renaissance. Shashikumar Sharma, District Governor says: “Roop Betala voluntarily came up with this idea. With no expectations or demands of any kind, he has committed himself to this cause, and to Rotary. I salute his selfless spirit and feel grateful for devoting his time, energy and toil for this event. I request all marathon runners, students, aspiring athletes, Rotaractors and Interactors to join him for any distance in the run. More the people, better the response. I genuinely feel, this is one great step for a young India with clear vision.”

The eye donation scene in India is very grim. If statistics are to be believed, of the 45 million blind people across the world, 15 million live in India. The sad fact is that 75% of these cases are of preventable blindness, but thanks to the nation's acute shortage of donors, most of the cases either go untreated or inadequately treated. A meager 25000 corneas are collected for transplants against the annual demand of 2,50,000. Lack of awareness among the general public, traditional believes coupled with infrastructural barriers make this noble act an uphill battle. The myths associated with eye donation are still holding back many from contributing to the cause. Most people in India are aware of eye donation; they don't know the exact procedure to go about it. There is a severe lack of motivation and cultural stigmas preventing many from even making an attempt. If the run generates curiosity about eye donation among citizens, the objective is achieved. We can convert this curiosity to know to commitment to donate.

Aravind Narvekar, Deputy Director and Head of Department of National Association for the Blind says: “This is a very noble initiative. National Association for the Blind is happy to support this effort. We see every day the untold sufferings of the blind. For every one person who comes to our institution to learn a skill and become independent, there are ten out there who do not come over. They either do not know about this organization or they do not have the confidence to approach us. If there is anything that can reduce the number of blind people or their plight, we will be happy to do that”.

About the event Roop Betala, the marathon runner says: “Marathons inspire the youth and if we have to garner the support of youth for any cause, we need to first do what appeals to them. So I have chosen this medium to champion any cause I think we should enroll the youth for. Eye donation is a cause that I feel very strongly about. If the youth begin to realize it importance and understand how easy and hassle-free the procedure is, they will encourage and support their parents to donate their eyes and they will set an example by doing it themselves. Youth are like tsunami. Once they believe in something, they become unstoppable. I have worked tirelessly and practiced regularly for hours for this run. I look forward to the youth of the country to support this.”

Students, athletes, sports clubs, runners and pacers, should gear up to join the run. They can run any distance of their choice at any location and support the same. Press and public should support this initiative and drive for the noble cause of eye donation.


The Run will start on 23rd February 2019 at 4:00 pm from Gateway of India and reach The Renaissance Convention Centre, Powai on 24th Morning around 11:00 am, where Rotary District (3141) conference will be going on. 


The running route of 89.1KM blindfolded is duly certified by Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) which works together with International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) to ensure that its running races are measured accurately. This Run is an attempt for world record. Hence this effort is worthy to be appreciated, applauded, sponsored and supported.