13-year-old chess player with different abilities finds new life

CHENNAI: A 13-year-old chess enthusiast from Chennai got a new lease of life after being given a custom-made wheelchair to help her up the stairs.

To this day, her parents have had to carry her up the stairs as several tournament venues were not suitable for disabled people.

This, in turn, caused mental pressure on Sharon, who found it difficult 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.

Although she was unable to walk, doctors said there was no treatment for her condition. Sharon, who had always wanted to play games, like any other child, chose to play chess as a child.

“Whenever we go to tournaments in different locations, there will be no ramps or elevators available. We would either have to take the stairs or my parents will carry me. Although we didn’t miss any of the tournaments because of that, the thought affects my focus on the game,” Sharon said.

She added that the portable wheelchair would come in handy.

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

During a chess tournament, a city-based NGO Edit Foundation, which primarily focuses on child development programs and helps women and the elderly in abuse and crisis situations, helped Sharon donating the custom wheelchair.

“When Sharon was younger, it was easy for us to carry her. Even now in Class 8, she can’t move from her wheelchair to another on her own,” said Elizabeth Aby, Sharon’s mother.

Leaving all of life’s challenges behind, Sharon is now moving forward and making her mark in the chess arena.

Sharon’s courage keeps her alive, defeating her opponents in several state and national competitions while battling SMA at the same time.

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