Story by Hani Yassine
The Lance – Arts Editor
Photos by Chris Mailloux
The Lance – Staff Photographer
It was roughly a year and a half ago when Puneet Mathur was suffering from spinal stenosis, a spinal injury which is caused by wear and tear in the lower back. A financial advisor by trade, it had gotten to a point where he wasn’t able to walk, yet he was well intent on rehabilitating himself through early morning walks and workouts at the gym.
Having now regained 50 per cent of his leg muscles, he found himself ready to take on the 5K challenge.
“Even if it’s a traumatic or non-traumatic spinal injury, you’ll never be prepared for it,” Mathur said. “But now you get knocked down and what are you going to do about it? So I had to decide to myself how I want to live my life. Do I want to be upset all the time, or do I want to adjust to it and continue to grow.”
The morning of Sept. 24 had over 100 people near the Riverfront Festival Plaza ready to take the Rockin’ at the River 5K challenge, all while raising funds and awareness for a greater cause. Following his rehabilitation and goals he set throughout the summer, Mathur wanted to garner support for charity in the process, and ultimately found a partnership in Easter Seals. Having served across Ontario for over 90 years, the organization’s mandate involves helping children with physical disabilities by providing mobility devices as well as covering costs for camp programs.
Even though Mathur himself didn’t have the same physical disabilities, his injury allowed him to resonate with those who did, which effectively served as the basis for the 5K and its underlying objective.
“Just as our Easter Seals children are in wheelchairs and walkers, Puneet kind of did the same thing where he had to rehabilitate to walk again, so he could relate to them,” said Easter Seals development officer Afshin Ali.
Spirits remained high as the walk was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, 12-year old Sammy Uprichard was eager to start, and upon being asked of his greatest challenges, he confidently said “Nothing.” Having served as an ambassador for the event, the efforts have been helpful for him the same way it has kept him busy.
“It’s fun. I get to go to the Easter Seals camp, and I love the support,” Uprichard said.