BY JACK D’ISIDORO
A row of gleaming medals, suspended by colorful ribbons, hangs along a wall in Nooria Nodrat’s Long Island City kitchen.
“There’s a lot,” Nodrat said, laughing.
Each medal represents a race she’s completed, despite being blind and suffering from severe asthma. The most recent award is from the 2014 New York City Marathon — her 10th.
“I don’t have superpowers, I’m just persistent,” said the 53-year-old grandmother, who finished the 26.2-mile course in 8 hours, 26 minutes and 49 seconds.
But for Nodrat, the race isn’t over yet. The Afghanistan Blind Women and Children (ABWC) Foundation, a charity she started in 2009 to help the visually impaired in her native country, will be holding a fundraiser on Nov. 11 to celebrate its fifth anniversary. She hopes to raise $10,000 to buy educational supplies for five blind Afghan girls determined to attend college.
“The need of educating blind people is very severe in Afghanistan. I’m hoping we’re able to do something in their lives,” Nodrat said.
Nodrat has always run for charity, but ABWC is much more personal. Besides her own impairment, both her late husband and brother were blind. Some 400,000 Afghanis, or 2 percent of the population, are blind, according to the World Health Organization.
“I’m a New Yorker,” said Nodrat, who came to the city as a political refugee in 1991.
Six years later, she was attacked by a deranged woman while waiting on the subway platform. Nodrat’s head injuries were so severe that she eventually went blind. The perpetrator was never caught.
“When I lost my sight, I don’t want to say I was a good person,” Nodrat said. “But adaptation is very crucial. You have to accept who you are and that’s it.”
Nodrat started running in 2003 when a friend suggested she attend one of the weekly workouts that Achilles International, an organization that assists disabled athletes, sponsors in Central Park. Shortly after meeting Nicole Meyer, a volunteer guide, the two decided they’d run the marathon together.
Nodrat prepares in the two months leading up to the marathon by holding onto a tether — or sometimes even a dishrag — shared with different volunteers while they jog the park’s loops.
“She’s tough and doesn’t complain,” said Robert Cremin, an Achilles volunteer who guided Nodrat through Sunday’s race. “She really thinks with her heart, does what it takes to make her foundation a success, and gets up and does it again.”
Nodrat’s dream is to eventually establish schools for the blind in Afghanistan. There is currently only one in the entire country: a 200-student school in Kabul.
“I’m not a millionaire lady, but I have my physical strength and I try to use it,” said Nodrat. “I want to offer my support to people who really need it.”
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