On 22 June 2019, more than 2000 participants composed of athletes, coaches as well as supporters from the government and private sector marched to the University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Science Oval, to show solidarity for “Lakad Para Atleta”.
The event witnessed for the first time a Unity Walk of able-bodied athletes walking side by side with para athletes to give life to the event theme, “Unity and Transformation Through Sports.” Co-sponsored by Citi Philippines and the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) together with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the Philippine Olympians Association (POA) and University of the Philippines, “Lakad Para Atleta” was highlighted by a torch relay that featured five pairs of Olympians and Paralympians traversing the 500-meter oval, symbolizing inclusiveness and equality for all.
A Para Athlete is a sports person with disability and comes from the etymology “Para” meaning parallel. For sports events such as the Olympics, there will be Paralympics; for Asian Games, there will be Asian Para Games and so on. Thus, making the Para athlete the equivalent of an able-bodied one.
According to Multi-titled ParaAthlete Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong Ancheta “I’ve had my share of experiences on constantly being overlooked and not having the support needed. The message ParaAthletes like me receive today lifts up our confidence, self-esteem and gives us the courage to go on.” Ancheta, together with Jerrold Mangliwan (wheelchair racing), are two of the country’s top Para athletes who are being proudly sponsored by Citi Philippines.
Multi-awarded heptathlete and ‘long-jump queen’, Elma Muros-Posadas joined the “Unity Walk” with Ancheta. She called for unity and cooperation among sports officials and athletes especially since the country will be hosting the 30th Southeast Asian Games on November 30 to December 11 this year. “I wish for everyone to unite and for our athletes to concentrate more on the task at hand because it is not good for them to be distracted. There’s only five months left before the SEA Games, and they really need to focus on training.”
PPC President Michael Barredo reiterates that “Lakad Para Atleta’ and our partnership with Citi will help increase awareness of Para sports in the country as we also prepare for the upcoming ASEAN Para Games in January 2020, as well as the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics later on the same year.” PPC Director for Marketing and TEAM Communications Managing Director, Debbie Tolentino adds “We hope to make our fellow Filipinos proud of our achievements both in the sporting arena as well as in our quest to promote inclusion and equality for all. We hope the younger generation, who are more tech savvy, support and promote public awareness of important advocacies such as this.”
Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed says “Citi Philippines is excited about the opportunity to partner with the PPC and to jointly work on the common goal of greater inclusion in sports. We are thrilled to sponsor the inaugural ‘Lakad Para Atleta’. Our 800 Citi volunteers present today feel honored to be participating with the nation’s incredible para-athletes and their supporters”.
To officially open the event, Barredo, Ahmed, Aro, and Guevara, walked side by side during the last leg of the Olympic torch relay and lit the historic Unity Cauldron together.
|TORCH BEARERS FEAT. OLYMPIAN AND PARALYMPIAN ATHLETES|
|Elma Muros Posadas – Queen of Long Jump, 1984, 1996
Andy Avellana – Athletics, 2012
|Roel Velasco – Boxing Bronze Medalist 1992
Ernie Gawilan – Swimming, 2016
|Christine Jacob Sandejas – Swimming 1984
Jerrold Mangliwan – Wheelchair Racing, 2012
|Stephan Fernandez – Taekwondo 1992
Josephine Medina – Table Tennis, Bronze Medalist, 2016
|Sen. Freddie Webb – Basketball 1972
Adeline Ancheta-Dumapong – Para Powerlifting, Bronze Medalist, 2020
In an equal show of solidarity highlighting the paralympic core values of equality, courage, inspiration and determination, athletes and non-athletes alike participated in the unity walk. More than 2,000 participants joined the unity walk and some were also able to witness the various sports performances highlighting mastery and skills in arnis, skateboarding, athletics, karate, underwater hockey, petanque and parasports like Braille Chess, Wheelchair Racing, Wheelchair Basketball and Para Athletics. A Body Combat session conducted by Fitness First turned the event into a sports fair.
Lakad Para Atleta sets the momentum for the country’s Paralympic movement with the goal to raise awareness and funds to benefit the country’s Para Athletes, especially as they prepare to compete in the upcoming 30th SouthEast Asian Games and the 10th ASEAN Para Games, to be held at the New Clark City Sports Complex in January 2020.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maria Paula Tolentino is the Chief Content Officer of SEM Scribe Publishing House. A registered business in Makati City since 2014, SEM Scribe Publishing House (SSPH) is a digital communications service provider with a focus on internal & external communications, content development & delivery, digital content marketing, social media marketing and corporate journalism. SSPH is a media partner of the event ‘Lakad Para Atleta 2019’. For more information, please refer to the following details below:
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Related news, read more here:
- Manila Times. “3000 Join Lakad Para Atleta”.
- ABS-CBN Sports. “Government, public sectors kick off support for athletes, para-athletes in first-ever Unity Walk”.
- Business Mirror. “Lakad Para Atleta highlights Olympic Day”.
- Dugout Philippines. ”Government, private sectors kick off support for ‘Lakad Para Atleta”.
- Philippine Star. “Building Better Humans”.