When Kamlesh Patel was a child in India, he ran a fever, was taken to a hospital and given a shot. A vein constricted, cutting off the blood flow and partially paralyzing Mr. Patel’s legs.
Only 5 at the time, Mr. Patel learned to walk by using his hands to lift his legs. But as he grew older, he dreamed of doing more, particularly when he would see dancers coming and going from an academy near a school where he was taking computer classes.
“I prayed to God that one day I would be able to prove to the world that I can also dance and be of service not only to myself but others,” Mr. Patel told GlobalAtlanta on a recent visit to Atlanta.
He eventually found a dance academy that would take him, although the instructor warned, “People do this with their feet. It would be difficult to do it with your hands.”
But the instructor worked with Mr. Patel, helping him learn to dance with his hands, his legs looped across his shoulders.
Last spring, Mr. Patel, 28, was the winner in a nationally televised dance competition, “Dance India Dance.”
A clip of his performance on YouTube so impressed Ritesh Desai, president of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, that the chamber paid to fly Mr. Patel to Atlanta for the group’s annual gala in November.
“I know India pretty well,” said Mr. Desai, who moved to the United States as a teenager. “I know of the hardships people go through. This guy has a tremendous amount of passion and desire to succeed. I was really impressed with his spirit.”
Mr. Patel, who lives in Vadodara, India, now makes his living as a dancer, performing in London, Dubai, the U.S. and throughout India.
He hopes to one day to open an institute in India that will train the disabled to become performers.
“God has given us a lot but has not given us some things,” said Mr. Patel. “The message I give is, ‘Don’t lose hope. You all have a specific talent within you. And you just have to identify that talent and grow that talent.’”