A 12-year-old Pinoy succeeded in his quest to raise funds for the orphaned children of victims of political killings and disappearances by capping off the four-day Walk of the World in Nijmegen, Netherlands.
The trail to his victory though, was not painless and sweet as Kyle Baleva almost gave up on the second day of the biggest walkathon in the world.
“Fatigue po. Sa pangalawa, ‘di ko po alam kung bakit kaso mas mahirap. Dun naman po sa pangatlo, grabe pong malakas ulan. Umuulan po sa pangatlong araw,” Baleva said in an interview with Balitang Europe.
“Nagkaroon ng streams ng tubig dun po sa mga fields. Grabe lang pong lakas ng ulan. Nabasa lang po kami ng grabe.”
“Masakit po yung aking dito,” Baleva added, as he showed his feet.
Each night for four days, after walking for eight hours, Baleva needed to forcefully pull the socks that were almost glued to his skin only to find his smooth young feet very sore and swollen.
But Baleva's solid determination allowed him to finish 30 kilometers each day of the bloody walkathon.
“Naisip ko po kung gaano mas marami akong nalakad, ganoon mas maraming makuha ang mga ulila. Para mas marami pa po silang makuha, kailangan pa po akong tumuloy,” he said.
Outpouring of support
Although Baleva suffers from Multiple Complex Developmental Disorder, which is a form of autism, it did not become a hindrance to nurturing a strong will to raise funds himself for the Children's Rehabilitation Center.
“Madali lang ang paglalakad. Ang hindi madali ang pagsisigurado na hindi mahihirapan si Kyle sa paglalakad, lalo na tuwing bago dumating sa finish line. Yun yung panahon na nahihirapan siya. Akala niya malapit na, yun pala ilang oras pa pala," said Kyle's father, Boyen Baleva.
There was an outpouring of support from Pinoys and Dutch which overwhelmed Baleva.
He surpassed his target of 1,000 euros, raising 1,500 euros (P100,000) from as little as 20 euro cents per kilometer that he walked.
“Grabe akong saya na ‘yong mga ulila, nakuha nila yung ganong karami, at saka nasayahan din ako sa nakita kong suporta. Grabeng maraming tao,” he shared.
Many admired Baleva for his seemingly impossible feat, especially the young Pinoys.
“I think Kyle's a hero. Just knowing that he's only a 12-year-old boy and that he walked 120 kilometers is just impressive. He inspires me and other teenagers my age to also do something for the poor people of the Philippines,” Adrian Paras from Belgium said.
Baleva's story continues to serve as an inspiration to many. In fact, in the Philippines, several groups of youth, peasants, workers and child rights advocates organized solidarity walks for Baleva.
The “Walk With Kyle” marches coincided with Baleva's four-day trek.