Hopes of a runner beat a rare bone disease

By Lisbet Esmael
World Vision Communications Intern

Some people would be driven to despair when diagnosed with a rare bone disease with no money to secure a treatment. Not Efren.

“I won’t let my fears eat away my dreams.” This is the insightful encouragement that kept the young athlete focused and directed in pursuing his passion for track-and-field competitions. A grade 6 student then, and with nothing but determination and love for his chosen path, Efren chose to keep moving forward and reach for his dreams.

Featured on “Maalala Mo Kaya,” Efren’s story mirrored the painful yet inspiring journey of a person who refused to give up and chose to continue to reach his dreams.

“I was so afraid, I thought I could no longer walk,” recalled Efren. His fear of losing his dream to become an athlete seemed to go with the pain he felt in 6th grade when he went home limping.

Efren’s mother remembered seeing his son unable to control his legs, “I could not bear to see my youngest son suffering like that, but did not know what to do.”

Months passed and the situation worsened, making it harder for Efren to walk. “We already consulted our local therapist and even a folk healer but they could not determine what was wrong with him. I was so afraid that we would lose him,” his mother added.

Still and all, this did not stop Efren from attending school.

Opportunity finally poured on him when World Vision got him a reputable physician to examine and help diagnose his case, which appeared to be a debilitating disease affecting the joints and spine. A year-long medication was needed, but with the support of World Vision and Efren’s family, his legs began to come to life again.

Four years after recovery, Efren found his path anew with his involvement in his school’s track and field competition. “I don’t know why, but I felt sure that this is the sport for me,” said Efren.

Afraid of what might happen, his father was hesitant to allow his child to join the competition. But after seeing Efren’s eagerness, he finally signed the waiver and let his son compete in the field.


This huge decision opened a door for Efren as he placed first in the sprint competition and was recognized as the fastest in his class. Efren’s hope has taken him to a new height of success – from the barangay to the national level. Now, Efren enjoys his days as a student and has competed in the Palarong Pambansa, representing his province Zambales. “Without World Vision, and my sponsor who has been helping me since I was in grade 2, I do not think I would bounce back to being as healthy as I am today. Thank you for all the help and I hope to make you proud and happy for helping children like me.”