Athlete with special needs runs for baby bro’s milk

Alexx Esponga
An athlete with special needs, Eunice Samoranos runs to buy her baby brother another bottle of milk.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Eunice has a learning disability, but she doesn't let it be a hindrance to help her baby brother. Photo by Rappler/Alexx Esponga.

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — For some, running is a sort of escape, an outlet of one’s passion, or simply a way of getting fit.

But for this young lady — one with special needs at that — competing in the Palarong Pambansa, running means another bottle of milk for her baby brother.

“I want to buy milk for my brother,” Eunice Samoranos of National Capital Region told Rappler. “My father sells peanuts and my mother just takes care of my siblings. I want to buy my baby brother milk.”

Among the handful of athletes competing against her in the 400-meter medley relay event of the Palaro, the 16-year-old stands out not because of her petite frame, but because she was not wearing her spikes.

The incoming Grade 6 student sat down on the bench to untie her shoes before stepping into Governor Mariano Perdices Memorial Stadium’s rubberized track.

“Aren’t you wearing your shoes?” one of the athletes asked her.

She answered with a smile and went to her line, barefoot. 

Everyone stood in awe, both surprised and confused to see an athlete coming from illustrious NCR take on the competition sans the shoes.

Some might think the story ends there but Eunice has a lot more to tell.

Small girl, big dreams

Samoranos is a small girl with big dreams, not only for herself, but for her whole family. Despite her learning disability, the lady from Novaliches, Quezon City believes that running will bring her out of the poverty they are experiencing.

The trackster shared that she earns some money from interschool competitions. But on tighter days, her coaches themselves shell out some from their own pockets.

“I give my money to my siblings,” she quipped. “Sometimes, when my coaches give me money, I use it to buy milk.”

Just recently, Eunice’s mother left work after giving birth to her fourth child, making it extra difficult for the Samoranos household to get through daily financially. But the young runner, inspired by her baby brother, decided that she will go on no matter what.

Samoranos only started training last year but has already surpassed expectations and finished first in both the District and Regional meet. She also won 1st place in the Philippine Paralympics last September.

 “I give my best in running because I want my siblings to be able to study, too,” said Samoranos. “I want to be able to win because when I do, I get money that I can give my parents.” 

Keeping feet on the ground

The unassuming lady did not imagine running under the national limelight, admitting that she only started her blossoming career in the busy streets of Novaliches, Quezon City.

As a child, she used to play with friends, running around the neighborhood, most of the time barefoot. 

“Even when I was a kid, I loved running barefoot,” Samoranos excitedly said. “We used to play tag on the streets and I was never tagged ‘it’ because I ran fast.” 

But today, Samoranos proudly dons the Blue and Yellow of her region in front of the whole nation.

Although the Department of Education issued competition shoes to athletes, Samoranos chose to run with her feet literally on the ground, something she has done ever since she began to run competitively.

“I’m used to running barefoot,” she admitted. “I don’t feel comfortable wearing shoes.”

Against her counterparts who ran the race on their spikes, Samoranos endured the hot and rough track to take home bronze in her first ever Palaro stint.

“I’m happy that I will be able to bring a medal home to my family,” she shared. “I hope I win more events so that they will even be prouder of me.” 

Whether she bags a couple more medals when she competes in the 100m dash and Shot Put doesn’t matter anymore, what’s important is that Eunice has proven that she can overcome her physical limitations, run to inspire people and compete for a cause. –

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