May 25, 2024

Living the dream: PWD volunteer gets to be a part of FIBA World Cup

Living the dream: PWD volunteer gets to be a part of FIBA World Cup
Art by Royce Nicdao

There were plenty who have answered the call for volunteers at the FIBA World Cup this year. At least three of them are senior citizens.

Another wore the gray shirt bearing the label of volunteer on his back. He was sitting on a wheelchair, which was being pushed by an elderly woman.

He is Julian Lapid, a volunteer for spectator assistance.

"Ako yung nagbabantay, inassign na help desk sa PWD [Persons With Disabilities] section ng [Smart] Araneta [Coliseum]," Lapid told One Sports.

He gets to stay on the floor, talking and guiding other basketball fans in the persons with disabilities section.

"It's been a dream of mine na maka-volunteer dito. So malaking blessing," Lapid said. "Nagpapasalamat ako sa SBP [Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas] and sa lahat ng taong tumulong para sa bayan."

He even got to be friends with international members of the audience, such as one from Italy.

"He is a basketball owner who lives in Indonesia, si Alexander," Lapid recounted. "Makikita ko na naman siya. Saka 'yung anak niya, nacu-cute-an ako sa anak niya. Very intelligent."

Lapid is also a fan of of Kiefer Ravena, from Gilas Pilipinas.

"Gusto ko 'yung work ethic niya," he explained.

Lapid has cerebral palsy, as his mother had difficulties during a 16-hour labor. Despite his condition, Lapid still loves sports. It's a family affair actually.

His father is very much into basketball. His mother Elizabeth Lapid, who used to play volleyball, also works as a FIBA World Cup volunteer in Araneta

"He blogs, he communicates with different kinds of people," Elizabeth shared to One Sports. "He started interviewing and all that. So I was just listening and it makes me as a mother happy seeing him happy."

Julian has been helping out as a volunteer since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which was also hosted by the Philippines.

His reason is simple.

"Para sa country," he said. "Para makita ng ibang tao na kahit na isa akong PWD, kakayanin natin na mag-volunteer. Kahit may hindrance, wala pong hadlang na makapag-volunteer tayo sa anumang bagay."

Lapid hopes more organizations would provide opportunities for PWDs to contribute.

"Tingnan niyo rin yung kakayahan ng ibang tao," he appealed. "'Wag kayo ma-discourage na mabigyan sila ng opportunity kasi may ibang kakayahan yan."

"Gusto rin nila maging normal," Lapid said. "Gusto rin nila ipakita kung ano yung kakayahan nila. 'Wag natin i-stop 'yung dream nila na maging kabahagi ng mundo."

As for fellow PWDs, Lapid encouraged them to continue believing.

"Tumawag lang kayo kay Lord. For sure, sasagutin niya lahat ng kahilingan niyo," he said. "Time will come na maa-achieve niyo rin kung ano 'yung mga pangarap niyo sa buhay."

(With reports from Mei-Lin Lozada, One Sports Digital)