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Running for a Cause

Marathoner Julieta Escobar Parra runs in a traditional Mexican outfit.

Julieta Escobar Parra runs for a cause. A resident of Puebla, a city in Mexico, Parra runs marathons and other races to raise money for wheelchairs. They are used to help children with a rare disease called West syndrome.

Parra has been running for about seven years. In the past four years, she has run in China Poblana, a traditional Mexican outfit. It consists of an embroidered white blouse and a colorful skirt that displays symbols of the country’s heritage.

What inspired Parra to embark on this unique journey? Several years ago, her infant daughter, who is now almost eight, was diagnosed with West syndrome. The disease, which is often incurable, causes epileptic seizures. The seizures can be so severe that they impair a child’s ability to laugh, cry, stand, or even hold their head up.

“As a mother, I felt a very strong pain my heart and didn’t know what I could do,” Parra told me recently via Zoom. “My husband suggested that I do something I liked. So I decided to go for a run.”

Starting out wasn’t easy, Parra recalled. “The first few times I cried because I wasn’t sure what my daughter’s future was going to be,” she said.

But Parra persevered. After several more runs, she began to train for longer distances. She then decided to run a marathon dedicated to her daughter.


Parra hopes to create a charitable organization with her husband that will help even more children.


A few days later, Parra and her husband got a call from their daughter’s doctor. She had been miraculously cured.

“Because of that,” Parra said, “I decided to dedicate my steps now for more little ones with West syndrome. Working with Camina Junto a Mi has allowed me to run for more children with this same disease.” (In English, the name of the nonprofit organization translates as “Walk With Me.”)

To date, Parra has run six marathons. Most of the money she raises goes towards wheelchairs for children.

“I’m excited when I visualize that I’m going to deliver the wheelchair to the little one with the help of a lot of people,” Parra said. “Often, the wheelchair is the only thing allows kids to go outside and have a better quality of life.”

Parra now hopes to create a foundation with her husband that will help even more children.


Top photo courtesy of Julieta Escobar Parra; bottom photo ©: Aliaksandr Barysenka / EyeEm / Getty Images