Sikh Soldier With Blown Off Leg Runs Marathons
Devender Pal Singh, an Indian soldier from Jagadhari, sustained severe injuries in 1999 when his Indian Army unit guarded the border between India and Pakistan during what became known as the Kargil War in 1999. Read the article below highlighting his journey:
Maj. Devender Pal Singh, an amputee marathon runner from India, tries out a new prosthetic leg at the Hanger Clinic in Oklahoma City, OK, Thursday, August 1, 2013. The Sikh faith community has embraced him while he is here in OKC and arranged for his place to stay during his visit. Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman
A surgeon took one look at his injuries and sent Maj. Devender Pal Singh’s broken body to a makeshift mortuary near a battlefield.
But another doctor saw life instead of death.
Singh, 39, considers this his rebirth of sorts.
That’s why this ambitious amputee from India is running for his life — his second life.
Known as the “Indian blade runner,” he’s been running marathons for 15 years.
Singh was invited to the Hanger Clinic, 4301 N Classen, by prosthetists who wanted to fit him with a better prosthetic for long-distance running. Clinic manager Carol Wade saw a video clip of the gregarious runner and learned he had trouble with his prosthesis while running the marathons he loves.
Singh said he readily accepted the clinic’s offer to help but made sure, as an observant Sikh, that he connected first with a local gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship.
Connect he did.
“When it comes to hospitality — the love and comfort — I don’t find myself away from home,” he said, smiling, before a run around Lake Hefner.
Sarbjit “Sabi” Singh, 69, a leader of the Sikh Gurdwara of Oklahoma and president of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma, said the Sikh community was excited to host the runner.
He said gurdwaras in India typically have rooms available for visiting Sikhs, but Oklahoma’s gurdwara is nontraditional and has no such space.
Instead, Lakhwinder Singh Multani, 38, an Edmond Sikh, gave the visiting runner a complimentary room at one of the metro hotels he owns. Later, members of the local Sikh community invited him into their homes.
Several local Sikhs said they were impressed when they heard Devender Pal Singh’s story, how he had been left for dead all those years ago in a field hospital — and yet is alive and well and making a difference in the lives of other Indian amputees.
“Even if he was not in the Indian Army, here is someone who has done so much for India. We will do anything we can to help him,” said Raj K. Rana, 50, of Oklahoma City.