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Father straps his disabled daughter to his chest and runs marathons: “We do not recognize the word quit”

As we closed in on the final 1,000 meters, the crowd’s cheers reached a deafening crescendo. Flags waved, hands clapped, and the air felt electric. “We’re almost there, Dad,” Milagros called out, her voice cutting through the air.

  • 9 months ago
  • October 3, 2023
5 min read
Interview subject
Sebastian and Milagros Inalaf are a father-daughter duo who have found common ground and success in athletics. Hailing from San Antonio Oeste in Argentina, Sebastian relocated over a decade ago to raise a family. With a rich history in sports, ranging from canoeing to running, he has cultivated a deep passion for athleticism that even he struggles to put into words. Together with his daughter Milagros, they run marathons, proving that love and the drive for continuous improvement can fuel remarkable achievements.
background context
Transverse Meromelia is a rare congenital malformation affecting the extremities, where there is either an absence of or a significant shortening of the proximal to the middle part of the limb. The condition can occur on one or both sides and may manifest sporadically or as part of a broader malformation syndrome.
For more information, visit the Orpha.net database.

RÍO NEGRO, Argentina ꟷ As the fiercely proud father of a brilliant young girl named Milagros, she has become the fire in my heart, pushing me to give my all for both of us. Milagros was born with Transverse Meromelia [she only has the small upper part of her arms and legs]. For the past year, we turned marathons into our own creative canvas – painting milestones with each synchronized stride.

Our journey began with a single moment of inspiration when we spotted an event organizer running with his wheelchair-bound son. I immediately asked Mili if she wanted to co-pilot an adventure and she enthusiastically responded with a yes. Just like that, we became an unstoppable duo. Her voice serves as a guiding melody from her perch in the carrier strapped to my chest. While I serve as her legs throughout the race, she propels me forward and pushes me to give it everything for both of us.

A Father-Daughter Duo’s Journey Conquering Trail Runs

At two years old, Milagros taught me to exclude the word impossible from my vocabulary. She sat at the table one morning staring at a steaming cup of tea in front of her with a look of puzzlement on her face. Unable to pick up the cup she asked, “How can I do it, if I can’t?” “Figure it out,” I said and turned away. Moments later, I faced a marvel. My little girl leaned down and sipped her tea as my eyes filled with tears.

Running together, we found our shared passion. While carrying the weight of my daughter challenges me physically, the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm envelops us like a warm blanket. It gives me the motivation to push on. Recently, we faced our first-ever trail run on a meandering path through dunes and hills. Breathing in the earthy scent of the trail with Milagros snug in her carrier, she shouted, “Come on, Dad!”

Her voice feels like a refreshing breeze that revives me when my legs ache and my resolve falters. Together, we navigate a landscape that unfurls like a canvas. Sometimes it looks like a tapestry of breathtaking vistas, and other times a labyrinth of grueling obstacles.

As we closed in on the final 1,000 meters, the crowd’s cheers reached a deafening crescendo. Flags waved, hands clapped, and the air felt electric. “We’re almost there, Dad,” Milagros called out, her voice cutting through the air. Reinvigorated, we crossed the finish line as our senses exploded from the sights, sounds, and unspoken feelings of accomplishment.

At a challenging race in Puerto Madryn, Milagros defies limitations

On September 3, 2023, we took on a new challenge: a mountainous race in Puerto Madryn which presented difficult obstacles. Anticipated surged through like an electric current during our daily workouts. We do not recognize the word “quit,” and our efforts fill our home with love and pride.

Before a mountainous race began, Milagros said something that surprised me. “What if we fall,” she asked. Her words hung heavy around us like a dense mist. “Don’t worry,” I assured her as we began out climb. Soon, the earthy scent of the trail filled the air and the magical touch of the wind graced Milagros’ face.

I suddenly shouted out a cheer of encouragement. “C’mon Mili,” I hollered. Her voice bounced back, laced with that hallmark resolve, and her fear dissipated. “C’mon dad! We are winning this one,” she shouted.

Through each sprint, marathon, and even the mundane moment in life, Milagros shatters the illusion of limitations. We run together, not just toward the finish line or to beat a personal record – but toward a boundless life. Each stride we take makes one thing abundantly clear: limitations are only as restrictive as we allow them to be.

Discriminatory glances turn us away, quitting is not an option

The crowd’s enthusiasm always fuels our resolve, but Milagros is my true inspiration. “Never give up,” she often tells me in the tone a young warrior with fierce wisdom. Her courage emboldens me to break through every obstacle. For both of us, quitting is never an option. With Milagros by my side, or rather in the carrier, we feel unstoppable.

Medals or no medals, every finish line crossed makes us winners in the most meaningful sense. At the same time, we face some hurdles beyond the track. In society sometimes we catch discriminatory glances or get turned away by a cold bus driver. We choose to see those moments as occasional clouds in the sunshine.

When disappointment looms, we look inside ourselves for resilience. When it comes to marathons, we find an extra dose of motivation in life, fueled by fans who wait for us to cross the finish line. Their applause and tears turn any of life’s challenges into mere whispers, eclipsed by the love we share.

For Milagros and me, this has never been about winning; its about the bond we share with each other. Every time we return home after a race, her eyes twinkle like stars in the sky. “I had a great time, Dad,” she will say.

My youngest son, who has watched this journey, vows to continue the running tradition with his sister one day. What started as one inspired race evolved into a family passion for athletics. That feels like my greatest triumph of all.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

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