Coming into Focus

Special Olympics has helped Emilda Soriano gain focus, build strength and develop confidence. Now, Emilda is applying these valuable skills in her daily life.

Hopes Follow Emilda to Greece

Now 18 years old, Emilda can talk and communicate with others because of her participation in Special Olympics sports.

Emilda Soriano's coach and parents have watched her race many times. But seeing her run – and win medals – is always a powerful experience. They watch her go – and think about how far she’s come.

The teen's family remembers Emilda as a young girl, before she was stricken with a high fever and convulsions, then fell unconscious for many days. When she woke up, Emilda had trouble responding to people and learning letters, colors or numbers. Her parents never gave up trying to get her the help she needs, although they struggle to cover food and basic expenses in their shanty-town in the southern Philippines. They have worked hard to pay for her schooling, including sending her to kindergarten for five years.

For the Love of Running

Emilda (right), cheers on her fellow athletes.
Photo Credit: Compassion International

Now 18 years old, Emilda can talk and communicate with others, though she loses focus quickly. What gets her attention is sports, especially track and field. Her mother tries to take her to practice at a local sports stadium everyday – and Emilda has gotten very fast. Her coach says, "Winning or losing doesn't really matter. She just loves to run." Emilda won a gold medal, two silver medals and a bronze medal in athletics at the recent 12th Philippine Special Olympics. Her national triumph qualified her for the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens. But how could her family afford such a trip?

Supporting a Dream

The Soriano family couldn't afford the trip, but people from all over the world have been sending in money to support Emilda's run for Greece. A student center in the Philippines covered the costs of new shoes, a uniform and other expenses. And people in a missionary group and other supporters have also pitched in from many parts of the world.

Her parents' hopes and dreams will be with Emilda as she travels to the global competition in Greece. Says her mother, "I would give everything for my daughter. Now that she is enjoying life as an athlete, I try not to worry about her future." Emilda's progress has inspired many, many people. As one of her fans remarked, "We are very proud of her achievements …We will support Emilda all the way."


Emilda celebrates her win on the medal stand.

Thanks to the support of donors and other well wishers, Emilda was given the opportunity to compete in the World Games. Her training paid off -Emilda surged to the end of the 200 metre track in third place, earning her an Olympic bronze medal.