A woman who lost 70 percent of her sight 11 years ago will compete in February’s Coast to Coast to prove that people with disabilities can do anything if they have support.
In 2000, Neelusha Memon suffered a horrific brain injury and simultaneously lapsed into a coma for four months. This came after she contracted a rare autoimmune illness. Following rehabilitation, most of her faculties returned apart from most of her sight and balance.
“I now live with these disabilities but I don’t see them as limiting factors. The major problem I face is how others treat me because of my disabilities,” she says.
“That’s why I’m doing the Coast to Coast. I want to prove that people with disabilities can do anything they want if given support. Most non-disabled people would never attempt the Coast to Coast, so I’m going to show that even someone without sight can do it if they want to.”
Neelusha, 27 and based in Christchurch, is not new to multisport. She has already climbed Mount Aspiring.
“My major hurdle there was not my sight, but people’s belief that I would fail because of my sight,” Neelusha says.
Just as her campaign suggests, Neelusha will have a support team to help her achieve her aim. For the cycle leg, she will ride on a tandem cycle with a support team member. She will also complete the kayak leg in a two-seater with a team member. On the run, another supporter will direct her.
She not only needs her team for the race, but also for training. This has taken some planning.
“I’ve chosen multisport to demonstrate how people with disabilities can do anything with support, but the major aim of my campaign is to change attitudes in society to people like me,” she says.
“With support people with disabilities are just like anyone else. I hope my Coast to Coast adventure will show this and people will start treating me and others just like non-disabled people. That’s all we want.”