(UPDATES) OLYMPIAN Ernest John “EJ” Obiena has pledged to donate the P250,000 cash bonus he is set to receive from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to ailing track legend Lydia de Vega, who was once considered Asia’s fastest woman but is now being held back by stage 4 breast cancer.
Obiena, 26, is bound to receive the said amount from the government after setting a new Asian record of 5.94 meters at the World Championships in Athletics in Oregon, US, where he also became the first Filipino to win a medal at the annual event last Monday. .
“I have just learned of PSC’s plans to reward me with an incentive of 250,000 pesos for breaking the Asian record. It is deeply appreciated, and certainly necessary since my funding is still not settled, despite the agreement mediation,” Obiena wrote. in a Facebook post on Friday.
“However, on the flight back to Italy, it occurred to me that despite my own training needs, Mam Lydia needed this money more than I did. I therefore hereby pledge to donate these 250,000 pesos once paid, directly to the family of Lydia de Vega for her medical expenses.”
De Vega, a 9-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, 2-time Asian Games gold medalist and 4-time Asian Athletics Championship winner, was the country’s leading participant in the all first World Athletics Championships in 1983.
Obiena said he was “deeply saddened by the news of Mam Lydia’s health issues and her family’s appeals for financial assistance with the mounting medical bills”.
And that’s why he’s not the only one giving de Vega a significant amount of money. After a discussion with his team, he also asked his adviser James Lafferty and nutritionist Carol Lafferty to also donate P250,000. This will bring the total donation from Team Obiena to de Vega to P500,000. .
“Discussing this with my team upon my arrival in Italy, I am also happy to announce that James and Carol Lafferty, my advisor and my nutritionist, respectively, will match my contribution of 250,000 pesos. So, in total, the Obiena team will pledge 500,000 pesos to Mam Lydia and her family. We hope this will make a difference and give Mam Lydia extra strength to fight against this horrible disease. May God bless you and give you strength Mam Lydia.