Leslie Joy Tajale and Cathy Jane Florida, Region XI student journalists
Being different should make one a stand-out. But in Mary Joy Salvacion’s case, it made her a source of ridicule as she faced condemnation every single day. With only one foot and crutch to her aid, she may look crippled, but she never limped towards her dream.
“I may have been smiling to the world to show that I’m okay, but sometimes it’s exhausting to wear a mask. Sometimes, I lost belief to myself,” Mary Joy said in an interview.
But she learned to fight because she realized that she had that ‘someone’ who believed in her aside from herself. It was her brother Mynnard who pushed her beyond her limits. She joined school activities, she started to become a leader, and she had competed in the Palarong Pambansa four times.
“He was there in all my practices. I may fall, I may get hurt, and I may shed a tear but every time I look in the eyes on that far distance in track field, that one nod is all I need to move forward,” Mary Joy added.
But that nod, the push and the smile of encouragement was all gone on that day when the bullet that was supposed to hit somebody else had hit her brother. Mynnard was a victim of mistaken identity.
“It was very painful. He was supposed to go home every afternoon and asked how was my day? Yet what I witnessed was that lifeless body. Gone was the smile,” Mary Joy broke in tears.
She was almost tempted to give up. But she asked if this giving up would make his brother happy. It won’t. His words and the memory of his smile has become her other foot. It completes her.
As she faced this year’s biggest challenge in the 2018 Palarong Pambansa in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, she has already brought laurel to Davao Regional Athletic Association (DAVRAA) as she won gold in Athletics event, Ortho Girls category.
She will still compete in 6th Paralympics Games in Marikina City in three throwing events on May, 2018.
The horizon ahead may be dark and uncertain. She may be tempted to think that she will not get through it. His brother’s world may have been far and different now, but the thought that he was still believing in Mary Joy’s abilities and dream is all it takes to propel her towards the pedestal. That right foot will get her through.