13-yr-old differently abled chess player gets new lease of life

Sharon Rachel Aby was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a rare degenerative disease, when she was 18 months old.
Sharon Rachel Aby with her mom
Sharon Rachel Aby with her mom

CHENNAI: A 13-year-old physically challenged chess enthusiast from Chennai got a new lease of life after she was given a custom-made wheelchair to help her to climb stairs.

Till date, her parents were forced to carry her on stairs as several tournament venues were not disabled-friendly.

This, inturn, caused mental pressure for Sharon, who found it hard to concentrate on the game.

Sharon Rachel Aby was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a rare degenerative disease, when she was 18 months old.

Even as she was unable to walk, doctors said that there was no treatment for her condition. Sharon, who had always wanted to play games, like any other kid, chose to play chess in her childhood.

"Whenever we go for tournaments to different places, there won't be ramps or lifts available. We should either take stairs or my parents will carry me. Though we have not missed any of the tournaments due to this, the thought affects my focus on the game,” said Sharon.

She added that the portable wheelchair would be helpful for her.

“I can carry this along with my existing wheelchair itself,” Sharon added.

During a chess tournament, a city-based NGO Edit Foundation, that primarily focuses on child development programmes and serving women & seniors in abuse and crises, helped Sharon by donating the custom-made wheelchair.

“When Sharon was younger, it was easy for us to carry her. Even now at Class 8, she cannot move from her wheelchair to another on her own,” said Elizabeth Aby, mother of Sharon.

Leaving all the challenges of life behind, Sharon is now moving ahead and making a mark in the chess arena.

Sharon’s grit keeps her going, winning over her opponents at several national and State level competitions while fighting SMA at the same time.

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