Preethi Srinivasan is a former Tamil Nadu cricketer who was involved in domestic cricket during the 1990s. She joined the State cricket team at the age of eight, making her the youngest girl to do so, and thus began her incredible cricket career at an early age. She earned the honour of serving as the under-19 women's team captain for Tamil Nadu in 1997. Tragically, she was injured in a beach accident in Puducherry the following year that left her paraplegic and caused spinal cord damage.
This significant event altered her entire way of life. She had previously succeeded in sports at the state level, winning silvers in several contests and even a state gold in the 50-meter breaststroke. Beyond her athletic accomplishments, Preethi Srinivasan was a key figure in the formation of Soulfree, a group whose mission is to inform children about spinal cord injuries and help those who are affected by them.
Srinivasan delivered a number of presentations at schools and colleges, aimed at both students and educators, as part of her objective to increase awareness of the hazards connected with spinal cord injuries and the significance of preventative actions. She also participated in many social events and received several honours for her significant services to the society.
Preethi Srinivasan was born into a well-educated Tamil family in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, on September 5, 1979. Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Srinivasan and Mr. N. Srinivasan were her parents. She left Pennsylvania's Upper Merion Area High School in 1997 to explore various other options in life. Preethi Srinivasan, in particular, was in the top 2% of all Merit students in the United States of America during her time in Class XII.
Age of Preethi Srinivasan
As of 2023, Preethi Srinivasan is 44 years old.
Early Life and Education
Preethi earned academic honours for exceptional performance and academic competence for the academic year 1996-1997, when she graduated from Upper Merion Area High School in Pennsylvania, USA, in 1997. She even earned a spot in Who's Among American High School Students for class 12 as she was in the country's top 2% of merit students. Due to her father's transferrable job, Preethi could travel regularly and discover many countries and traditions. After her injury, she enrolled in a Bachelor of Medical Sociology correspondence program at the University of Madras. She enjoys reading, watching films, and listening to music. Her mother, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Srinivasan, serves as a constant source of guidance and support for her.
Becoming a Swimmer
N. Srinivasan taught her to swim when she was just three years old.
Preethi Srinivasan later became a national-level swimmer at the age of 8, and she went on to win a gold in the 50-meter breaststroke and several silvers in other competitions.
Love for Cricket
Preethi Srinivasan acquired an interest in cricket at the age of four after seeing Viv Richards in the 1983 Cricket World Cup.
Soon after, she began receiving lessons for cricket and also began playing the game.
Preethi Srinivasan, who was just eight years old, was the youngest player on the Tamil Nadu women's cricket team's Playing XI.
She had strong fielding and bowling skills at the time, but because of her tiny stature, she was not a decent batswoman.
At the age of 17, Preethi Srinivasan captained the Tamil Nadu Under-19 Women's team, which won the national competition.
She was among the top wicket-takers and run scorers.
Preethi Srinivasan was picked for the South Zone women's cricket team at the age of 18, and in a year or two, she was expected to represent India.
A Life-Changing Incident
Then, on that memorable July 11th, 1998, a startling and upsetting event occurred that would have shocked everyone. Preethi, who was only 18 at the time, had just returned from a fun college trip to Pondicherry and was on her route to Chennai. Their voyage took an unexpected turn when they stopped at a beach privately owned by the father of one of Preethi's friends.
Preethi and her companions wasted no time in getting to the beach. Preethi and the other girls waded into the waves up to their thighs as the boys played and swam in the deeper seas. Preethi had no idea that these pleasant memories would soon give way to a horrific event that she was never going to be able to recover from.
The terrifying events that transpired after are described by Preethi as follows:
"I tripped when a receding wave unexpectedly agitated the sand beneath my feet." I briefly stumbled and, by a stroke of pure luck, found myself going into the water headfirst. Despite being a swimmer since age three, one would suppose I had a natural sense of how to enter the water elegantly. But destiny had different ideas for me. My entire body felt a sharp, electric shock as soon as my face hit the water. It happened instantly, without any uncomfortable touch, impact, or collision with the sea floor or any nearby rocks. A tragic turn of events, a brief moment of bad luck?that's all it was.
Interestingly, there was no discomfort, loss of consciousness, or spectacular event. My body immediately froze as the shock hit, and despite my desperate attempts to regain consciousness, I remained unresponsive. I held my breath until my companions could save me and get me back to safety, keeping me in agonizing suspense."
Preethi showed incredible calm in the face of the commotion and anxiety that enveloped the group. She gathered her pals to do on-the-spot first aid despite her waning strength. She was then taken by ambulance to JIPMER Hospital in Pondicherry, where she was given a spondylitis collar to wear. She was subsequently sent to Chennai, but with a murky diagnosis; she had been first classified as having been in an "accident." Preethi's condition deteriorated throughout the course of the essential four-hour trip to Chennai. Only after arriving in Chennai and obtaining a correct diagnosis did it become clear that she had acute paralysis rather than spondylitis. Preethi frequently worries if the four hours of erroneous medical care made a difference in her current state.
Dreams Are Broken
This injury crushed all her prior aspirations. Preethi Srinivasan was no longer able to pursue her schooling or play cricket for India.
She was regarded as a role model since she had previously excelled in both academics and athletics, but her injury caused people to feel sorry for her, which she didn't enjoy.
Preethi Srinivasan got depressed, suffered panic attacks, and struggled to breathe when others saw her.
She experienced several close calls to death and had terrible spasms.
Preethi Srinivasan continued to stay at her home for almost two years.
Losing Her Father
Preethi Srinivasan's father died from a heart attack in 2007 at the age of 57. Four days later, her mother also experienced a heart attack and was diagnosed with a cardiac condition.
Preethi Srinivasan later became the primary decision-maker after her mother had a bypass operation.
This shattered her entire life, and she understood she was alone and that they had no means of support.
As a result, Preethi Srinivasan began working full-time as a writer for Moviebuff, utilising voice recognition software.
She was able to support her family because of this profession.
Search for Rehabilitation
Preethi Srinivasan and her mother began looking for rehabilitation institutes to accommodate her when her father died, and her mother became unwell.
However, she was surprised when she discovered that India only has a few rehabilitation institutions.
Then, Preethi Srinivasan's mother advised her to open a rehabilitation facility on her own.
But because she didn't believe in herself, she didn't start one.
Preethi Srinivasan was very touched to discover that two paraplegic girls in Tiruvannamalai had, regrettably, been driven by their own family members to commit suicide over the period of just three months. She gained a deep awareness of the problems and obstacles encountered by individuals who are paralysed as a result of these terrible tragedies, which served as a huge revelation for her.
So, Preethi Srinivasan made the decision to work with her mother to launch a public charity trust called Soulfree to aid those with severe impairments.
This trust is based in Tiruvannamalai and was established on September 7, 2013.
Soulfree seeks to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries and give those who have them a means of support.
More than a thousand individuals and families are now receiving assistance through Soulfree.
Preethi Srinivasan has been able to give hundreds of individuals monthly stipends and wheelchairs over the course of five years through her trust.
In addition, she campaigns for disability rights.
Becoming A Motivational Speaker
Preethi Srinivasan's journey to being a motivational speaker began when she was asked to give motivational talks in schools, universities, and businesses. Initially, she was teaching spoken English and Tamil to foreigners in her hometown.
She gave speeches at a variety of businesses, including Tata Consultancy Services, Mindtree, and Goldman Sachs, as well as other educational institutions.
Preethi Srinivasan won several honours as a result of her noteworthy efforts, including the Tamil Nadu government's "Kalpana Chawla Award" for bravery and audacity.
Some of the Questions Asked to Preethi Srinivasan in an Interview
Why are You so Passionate about Cricket?
I feel like I was born to play cricket. When I was just four years old, in 1983, India faced the incumbent World Cup winners, West Indies, in its inaugural World Cup final. Every Indian sat in front of the television and cheered for their country. But despite my uttermost patriotism, I was cheering for the West Indies because I was a die-hard Sir Viv Richards fan. I became so totally absorbed in the game that I got a fever. Such was my obsession with cricket that, not long after, my father enrolled me in official instruction with renowned coach P K Dharmalingam. I was the sole female camper among more than 300 males at my first summer camp, and I was fine with that. Before I was mature enough to understand that it was a significant deal, at the age of eight, I had already secured a spot in the starting lineup of the senior Tamil Nadu women's cricket team. I had just joined the South Zone team a few weeks before my injury, and I felt like I would soon be representing the country.
Your Life's Trajectory was Radically Altered by the Accident you Experienced. Could you Please Tell us More About it?
I travelled to Pondicherry on a college-organized trip on July 11, 1998. Then, I was 17 years old. We made the decision to spend some time at the beach while travelling back from Pondicherry. I was playing in thigh-high water when a wave washed away the sand beneath my feet. I staggered for a few steps before awkwardly falling head-first into the sea. My face submerged, and I had a shock-like sensation that paralysed me from head to toe. My companions took me outside right away. Despite not knowing what had occurred to me, I took responsibility for my own first aid and instructed others nearby to stabilize my spine. When I arrived at the hospital in Pondicherry, the nurses immediately washed their hands of the "accident case," gave me a neck brace intended for people with spondylitis, and sent me back to Chennai. For over four hours following my injury, I was without access to emergency medical care. When I arrived in Chennai, I was transferred to a multispecialty hospital.
How did you Handle it?
I did not handle it properly. I stayed indoors for two years because I could not tolerate how people were staring at me. I didn't want to be a part of a world that rejected me for reasons I couldn't control. Even if I could perform at a lower level, I remained the same champion, warrior, and inside person, so why was I treated unfairly? The situation eluded me. I made an effort to isolate myself. My parents' unwavering devotion gradually drew me out and gave me a better perspective on life.
What Gave You the Idea to Launch Soulfree?
When my mother was ready to have bypass surgery, one of my parents' acquaintances approached me and asked, "Have you considered your future?" How are you going to survive? I felt my life ebbing away at that very moment. I could not do it then, and I now find it impossible to contemplate my life without my mother. She is my whole support. But when the question's practical implications started to dawn on me, I tried to look for short-term and long-term housing options for persons in my situation. I was surprised to discover that not a single hospital in India is set up to care for a lady in my situation over the long term. After my mother's operation, we travelled back to Tiruvannamalai, where I discovered two paraplegic females I knew committed suicide by ingesting poison. They were both hardworking females; their upper bodies functioned normally, allowing them to cook, clean, and perform most household tasks. Their relatives still shunned them despite this. Being aware that such things were possible astonished me. If this could occur in my hometown, a small religious town, I can only imagine how often this occurs throughout India. I decided to bring about change, and as a result, Soulfree was established.
How does Soulfree Assist those with Disabilities?
The major objectives of Soulfree are to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries in India and ensure that individuals who suffer from this illness are given the chance to live a respectable and meaningful life. Women are the subject of particular attention, and we are devoted to helping them, regardless of whether they have spinal cord injuries or serious impairments. The plan that provides monthly stipends to those with severe injuries from low-income families is a successful contemporary initiative. Those who are suffering for day-to-day survival are given ?1,000 every month for a year. There is an 'independent living initiative,' in which we secure our recipients' financial independence by purchasing sewing machines and other seed funding operations. Aside from organizing wheelchair donation drives and spinal cord injury awareness campaigns, we also offer medical rehabilitation, financial aid for urgent care, and conference calls to link people with spinal cord injuries so they know they are not alone.
What Adjustments are Necessary to Improve the Quality of Life for Those Who Are Differently Abled?
Infrastructure improvements include better wheelchair accessibility, medical rehabilitation facilities, and inclusion via equal chances in all spheres of life, including marriage, work, and, probably most crucially, sports. Fundamentally, every sector of society needs to transform its thinking and viewpoint completely. Possessing traits like empathy, compassion, and love is essential to escape the mechanical life we currently lead.
What Disability-Related Message Would You Convey to the Public?
What does "disability" mean to you? Who has perfect talent? So aren't we all more or less incapacitated in some way or another, almost nobody? Do you, for instance, wear glasses? If you do, does it imply that you have a disability or are in any other way inferior to everyone else? No one with perfect eyesight wears glasses; therefore, if anything is imperfect, a different gadget is needed to correct the issue. In a way, those who use wheelchairs are similar to others. They have difficulty they are unable to walk, and a wheelchair can help them. Therefore, if individuals adopt the viewpoint that everyone is essentially the same, they will naturally work to guarantee that everyone is included in our society.
What are your Long-Term Goals?
My only goal for the future is to inspire others with love, light, laughter, and hope. In each situation, I want to be an inspiration for goodness and a source of positive energy. This strategy is the most difficult and rewarding one. As far as Soulfree is concerned, I'm totally committed to it. The aim is to alter the prevalent views about disability in India profoundly. It will undoubtedly take a lifetime to complete, and work will continue after I'm gone.