Training for the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games

18-year old Emilda Soriano is competing in the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece this summer. And we are watching her train, thanks to you.

woman and girl laughing

Emilda has been training daily since February, with her mother as a constant and faithful companion.

Training in March was a bit of a problem because it was raining all over the Visayas group of islands. In fact, some provinces experienced severe flooding.

The rain didn’t deter Emilda. She continued to train on a cemetery’s grounds around the tombs. It was there she first learned that running is fun. And there are usually many children playing in the cemetery.

“I heard that you’re going to Greece.”


She remembered me from our previous meeting two years ago, so she did not hesitate to communicate.

“Why are you going to Greece?”

“To run. I will run there in Greece.”

two girls competing in track meet

“In what competitions are you joining?”


Emilda will compete in the 100 meters, 200 meters and running long jump.

“Do you run well? Will you win at the Olympics?”

She smiled and nodded.

Emilda’s trainer says,

“She is the strongest of the three [Filipino girls competing], but when we say chances for Emilda we can’t really say because there are a lot of competitors. So, I will say a 50-50 chance for now, but who knows — she might just win a gold.”

Lately, there haven’t been any rains. The sun shines brightly and it’s scorching hot. Emilda is much darker than she was two months ago, but that’s the least of her problems. She’s trying to learn a new skill: the running long jump.

Her long limbs catapult her a good distance, probably enough to make her competitive. But she has one basic problem: She doesn’t know when to jump.

Her trainer is teaching Emilda to count her steps so that she jumps on her right leg, on the correct line, just before the dirt pit.

girl running long jump

When I saw her practicing, she made several attempts. At the end of the day, she hadn’t learned it yet. The trainer looked at me and said,

“She’ll get it. We still have two months to go anyway.”

Emilda took off her new shoes and put on an old pair before going home.

“Where are you going, Emilda?”


“Will you come for training again tomorrow?”


“Will you learn to jump?”


Did you make a contribution to send Emilda to Greece? We’d love it if you shared what moved you to do so.

13 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Diana June 14, 2011

    I wanted to be part of making a dream come true for this girl that, perhaps, others perhaps didn’t expect much from. But God knew better – He has a great plan for her…and I believe this trip is part of it! I want to be part of that plan, part of helping Emilda reach her God-given potential. May God use her efforts mightily!

    1. Jacquie Parella June 14, 2011

      And Diana if you go to our Facebook page, you can see a photo of Emilda that we posted earlier today. She’s getting ready to go to Greece soon!

  2. Garry May 15, 2011

    Supporting Emilda was a no-brainer for me. It will be something she will remember for a lifetime, win or not, although Emilda is definitely a winner already. It is just such an awesome opportunity for a great girl, and I think the Compassion family would help one of my kids do this as well, if a similar opportunity ever arose. Go Emilda!

  3. Mike Stephens May 13, 2011

    Great job Emilda! Keep it up! Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

  4. Judith Tremblay May 13, 2011

    It was interesting; I read an earlier post, which mentioned the reaction of the other kids in her project: “if Emilda can go to Greece, what can God do in my life?” So, I guess I supported Emilda’s trip partly for Emilda’s benefit, but mainly to prove to all of the people in her community that miracles do happen. God loves the “least of these”, and everyone else too. 🙂

  5. Hannah May 13, 2011

    So great to hear an update on Emilda! As soon as I read her story, I felt a tug at my heart to contribute to her dreams. I know God will have His hands on her. Best of luck to this sweet girl!

  6. Kristina May 13, 2011

    @Nikki I had the same thought! Maybe along with the darkening skin there’s a problem with sunburn?

  7. Nikki May 13, 2011

    It’s exciting to hear of a clearly special girl who gets to train and challenge herself. I’m a little curious though – why is getting darker framed as a “problem” here? I don’t think it was meant that way, but the sentence makes it sound like getting darker is a negative thing. As a white sponsor that’s not a message I’d ever want to send, even accidentally, to my little girl with beautiful brown skin.

    1. Becky May 13, 2011

      My guess is that getting darker is a problem as it means she is getting overexposed to the sun, which causes her skin to tan and/or burn; therefore it raises her risk of skin cancer. I have close friends who are Indian (i.e., from India), and they have been sunburned before being in the sun too long despite having naturally brown skin that doesn’t burn anywhere near as easily as my pale white skin. I certainly don’t think it was meant that having darker skin is a problem, just that one does not want their skin getting darker than it normally is (whatever the shade) as that means the sun is damaging it.

      I donated as I felt the trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity for her, her mom, and for the community to support her. It is wonderful to teach others in their community for kids to dream big. I loved the follow-up story about her fundraising, which mentioned how people donating money to send Emilda to the Olympics was impacting her church family and community.

  8. Jill Foley May 13, 2011

    It’s so neat to read more of this story and hear about her training. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about her in the months to come and I’m looking forward to it.

  9. Teresa May 13, 2011

    LOVE this! You can tell she is excited and confident. Even if she doesn’t win the events, this experience has taught her lessons she will carry for life, and that totally makes her a winner!

  10. june May 13, 2011

    This is a once in a lifetime experience and this girl deserves this experience. She probably would not have otherwise. I wanted her to know that we believe in her and she can do anything. We serve a God of the impossible. Good Luck Emilda! I am so excited for you and am cheering you on from the U.S.

  11. Bethany May 13, 2011

    Go, Emilda!! I decided to contribute because I’ve always loved watching the Olympics. Plus, I believe in Compassion’s ministry after being a sponsor for almost 9 years. Thanks for the update on her training!

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