Champion athletes inspire students

HARLINGEN — From the earth to the moon.

That seemed to be the message Thomas Valles and Johnny Samaniego were sending to those listening to their presentation yesterday.

“Your story is the same as our story,” Valles said. “What motivates me is to watch the futures of the young kids.”

Valles and Samaniego came from meager beginnings in the poverty-stricken town of McFarland, California.

At the Harlingen school district central office yesterday, they spoke to migrant children, their parents and migrant counselors.

The presentation reached many.

“It inspired me,” said Debbie Martinez, who’d brought her daughter Naomi Aguirre, a sixth grader at Vernon Middle School.

“I come from a migrant family,” she said. “I was raised by my grandparents.”

Her daughter Naomi, 11, was especially attentive to the message.

“It inspired me to do what I want to do, to achieve my dream,” she said. “I want to run.”

At Harlingen High School South, they spoke to the band, athletes, ROTC and the volleyball team. The Los Fresnos Lady Falcons Volleyball Team had also come for the presentation.

“It was very emotional, the way they struggled, and the fact that we were immigrants,” said Anna Marie Rodriguez, 14.

Sean Minton, who is in the drumline at HHSS, also enjoyed the presentation.

“It was great to hear them,” said Sean, 17. “They said we’re not much different here from people around the world. It was inspiring.”