By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Jan. 17, 2013

JERSEY CITY, NJ – Nineteen-year-old Raymond Martin was born with a congenital deformity. His fingers are permanently bent. His feet are clubbed and his wrists are stiff.

Raymond’s mother, April, said her son has been through 17 surgeries since he was a baby. She shared, “It was upsetting at first. But then, you start thinking about the next step — how to make him functional, how to make him do things for himself.”

But Raymond has not let his disability get in the way of achieving his dreams of becoming an athlete. At age 7, he began competing at the National Junior Disability Championship.

Raymond said, “Whenever I’m on the track, just going so fast — I feel free. I don’t feel like I have disability.”

Now he’s at the top of his game. Raymond was named the 2012 Paralympic Sportsman of the year by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) for winning four golds at the Paralympic Games in London last summer. He was nominated for “Best Male Athlete with a Disability” in ESPN’S ESPYS Awards. He is also training for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil.

His grandmother, Julita Abano said, “I’m so proud of him. Even with his disability, he won gold medals.”

Today, Raymond is using his celebrity status to help and inspire other disabled athletes. He is set to record a public service announcement to help raise money to keep the Paralympic Sports Clubs in New York and New Jersey area running.

Raymond said, “They’ve given me so much. They gave me the guidance to reach the games. That’s why I’m just so excited to have the opportunity to help give back.”

Raymond said people who face different obstacles in life — should never lose sight of their dreams.

He concluded, “Anything is possible, if you put your mind to it. It just needs a little bit of determination, a little bit of hope.”

If you know a kababayan like Raymond Martin who inspires you and makes you proud, you may nominate him/her by sending an email to or calling (650) 508-6137.

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