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When Running Barefoot Is Their Only Choice

While I was doing my usual training along Daang Hari on a Saturday morning, waving at my triathlon friends who had just finished theirs, a group of kids caught my eye.

2nd after first

They were a rag tag team gathered under a shady tree.


First they did some stretching, then some serious push-ups and sit-ups, after which they started running. After their run warm-up, the older boy, not more than 15 years old, started timing them one by one.


Coach Noel and I were so impressed and so intrigued, we approached them and talked to them. It turned out that the leader of the group, a young boy  named Joery Dela Pena, had organized them and was training them for a track event.


Most of them ran barefoot or in rubber slippers.

I  realized that these kids were meant to be the new beneficiaries of Gabriel’s Symphony.



Every year, we celebrate my son Gabriel’s life with a 12 hour event where friends come to run, bike, swim, walk, do a triathlon for the benefit of disadvantaged children. My son Gabriel, never reached his 1st birthday, he had multiple disabilities. He was perceived to be blind and deaf. My hope is that because he lived, no matter how short, his life would make a difference in the lives of other disadvantaged children.


On Saturday, September 4, 2010, we will hold our 8th 12 hours in Memory of Gabriel. This year, we will include a program for these young runners. Through the generosity of our friends,  Wayne and Stella Dearing and their company Top Draw Animation, the kids will be given lessons in animation and will take home their sketch pads and art materials.  They will also be given basic Arnis lessons. We will also have running events lined up for them. Our sponsors, New Balance will be giving them shoes, Century Tuna, RFM and Gardenia – goodies to take home. Aside from these goodies, they will receive free vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B care of GlaxoSmithKline. After September 4, we hope to remain an active part in their young lives. We want to support their running, their education, give them a full life.


If you want to make a difference in the lives of these kids or any of the other kids we help who have cleft lips, are hearing or visually impaired, let us know by sending us an email at [email protected]. See you on Saturday.

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