Once mentally challenged Rohit struggled to stand on his feet, but today, he trains people to dance in a Zumba academy. Twenty-one years old Rohit is an award-winning dancer, and a certified Zumba instructor. Even the Founder of Zumba, Alberto Beto Perez has recognized his talent and passion! He has won the "Passion Award" at the International Zumba Convention held at Orlando, USA.
His achievements did not stop here, he is a Limca book record winner for nonstop swimming for 13 hours, proud winner of the silver medal at Special Olympics held at Abu Dhabi. He has over 40 medals from various swimming competition. He is a lifeguard, and open sea and pool swimmer. Rohit is also a national winner cyclist
When we were taking Rohit’s interview, we realized that this story is about two heroes. One is off course Rohit and the other one is his mother. She is a valiant lady, did not give up on her son, who has been supporting Rohit through his journey and made her son ‘special’ in the real sense of the world.
Watch this 2 mins video to get glimpses of their life journey so far.
Do read this full interview with Inspirational Beings team to know what all challenges they had to go through during this journey, how did they manage to overcome those challenges, what keeps them motivated during their low times, and what is their message to our readers.
Our interview with Rohit and his mother Mrs. Mrunal Sawant
Could you please tell us about Rohit's childhood and the unfortunate incident?
Rohit was a born bright and talented boy, but sometimes he used to be hyperactive. He fell off on his head when he was four years old, and there were stitches on his head, but he was recuperated. Later, after a few months, he again slipped and had an injury on the head, we immediately took him to the hospital, and he was recovered. Since Rohit was hyperactive and fell on his head twice, the school insisted on getting his treatment on hyperactivity. We went to the specialist, but he advised a heavy dosage of pills which worsened Rohit’s condition instead of healing, it led to severe neurological damage and got him stuck on the mental age of an eight-year-old.
What challenges did you face, and how did you handle those?
Accepting situation was very difficult for both of us. Being a mother, I was utterly shattered when my talented boy became mentally challenged within a few months. Rohit’s friends and people in the neighborhood started heckling him, and it was too harsh for a boy to bear rejection.
When my relatives invited us for the functions, they precisely mentioned not to bring Rohit along. I didn’t go to any functions for many years as I never wanted to go to the places where my son was unwanted.
Rohit had to leave school and his friends. His old friends in the neighborhood started calling him mentally retarded, and they stopped playing with him. Their parents started looking at Rohit derisively. He was thoroughly confused and disheartened. His loneliness and the forced inactivity were pulling him down and he went into a depression.
When we learned Rohit could never complete his formal education and become financially independent; it was a big disappointment and worry about his future.
But we accepted the situation. I never felt ashamed of his conditions; in fact, I was raising him as a normal kid. Rather than suppressing his energies and activeness through medication, we enrolled him in different activities like dancing and swimming to channelize his energy.
Many times, I used to get demoralized, when I heard people saying it’s in vain to invest time and energy on Rohit, but I pushed myself as I wanted to make Rohit emotionally and financially independent by developing his skills.
I accompanied Rohit everywhere. When Rohit showed immense development in dancing, I learned dancing to motivate him and to support him in his dance academy where he teaches Zumba and dance to other kids and special children.
How did he develop in Dancing, cycling and swimming?
When Rohit was cut off from school, friends, and society, he was dismayed and shattered because of loneliness. Rohit liked dancing when he was a young kid. I encouraged him to take up dance as an experiment so that he could mix with other kids, and his energy could be channelized in developing that skill. I was expecting these practices would also help him in performing other routine activities better. First, he couldn’t even understand the beats of a track, but with the help of his cousin Rahul Murumkar, he mastered the art.
Rohit responded wholeheartedly and gave his best shot there. He won many awards and was selected in dance show on TV. We approached Zumba academy to check whether he can earn his Zumba certification. When they met Rohit and saw him dance, they approved his certification. Later Rohit was called for the International Zumba Convention held at Orlando, USA.
Incidentally, I also got to know about the swimming classes for special children, though I was skeptical about Rohit learning swimming but still I mustered up the courage and enrolled him. At Bal Kalyan Sanstha, a recreational and cultural center for differently abled children, he started taking swimming lessons under coach Abhijit Tambe. Rohit showed huge resentment and used to cry for almost six months. But with his trainer’s guidance and persistence, he learned swimming.
Rohit showed enormous stamina in swimming. Later we got to know about the Preparatory training for Limca book of record. Though the preparatory training of Limca book had started much before Rohit’s admission to classes, seeing his determination and efforts, his coach allowed him to participate and Rohit etched his name on the Limca World Record for 13 hours nonstop swimming.
Rohit learned cycling and won many prizes there as well. He also bagged a silver medal for one-kilometer cycling and stood fifth in the 500-meter cycling competition at the national level, in 2014.
Sometimes I feel, since Rohit could not pursue his academics, he tries his best to make me proud through his hard work in swimming and dancing.
Tell us about Rohit’s dance academy?
In childhood, Rohit has a liking for dancing, but his dream shattered after the unexpected accident. His cousin Rahul Murumkar stood beside him and started teaching him to dance with the hope that "dance therapy" might help Rohit to bounce back to a normal life. Rahul Murumkar and I started the dance academy for children and Rohit started his dancing lessons there. Rohit showed interest and developed the skill. He won many awards in dancing.
When Rohit got selected for various reality shows on TV. Seeing Rohit’s success story, many parents of special kids approached us to learn dancing. Finally, Rahul and Rohit decided to start a teaching dance to kids who are less blessed by almighty and those who belong to an extremely low-income family along with regular students. Now it is a regular practice of their academy,Shree Dance Academy(SDA), to train the unprivileged children honorary and provide them an opportunity in all the major events of SDA.
What are his plans ahead?
Rohit is a part of Bal Kalyan Sanstha, a recreational and cultural center for disabled children where he teaches dance to special students. Rohit wants to establish NGO for specially-abled children. He wants to join the army and serve his motherland.
What is your message to our viewers?
Every child holds some unique qualities in them, even if they are slow learner, autistic, or with any other weaknesses. Please do not be ashamed of your kid’s physical or emotional weaknesses, don’t compare your children with others and don’t push them but invest your time in making them explore with various activities, interests, and hobbies and then support them in developing their interests.
This story is supported by
Mr. Shekhar Samant