From Vishal’s mom:
"We have decided to dedicate Vishal’s first birthday to miraclefeet.
Why miraclefeet? Here is our story, of which a few of you are already aware.
Vishal was diagnosed with bilateral clubfeet at 13 weeks of gestational age. My last scan at 37 weeks before his birth also confirmed the problem.
However, call it grace of GOD or fruition of everyone’s prayers, our son Vishal was born with healthy feet.
During the course of my pregnancy we learned a lot about clubfoot and how common it is. We would like to help miraclefeet provide treatment to children around the world so they do not have to suffer the consequences of untreated clubfoot.
Every $250 raised transforms one child’s life. In fact, miraclefeet is now supporting the treatment of 3,600 children with clubfoot in 12 countries!
Please consider donating in honor of Vishal. With your support we can truly make a difference in someone’s life.”
At miraclefeet, we love the kindness and generosity of people like Raj. Thank you so much for reaching out to miraclefeet and for sharing your story!
Barron’s just published a very poignant article by Paul Theroux on NGO work in Africa, criticizing the approach of many non-profits that are doing work there. In a follow-up blog written by Richard Morais, miraclefeet was named one of the top 5 NGOs doing things right in Africa.
We are thrilled to have earned this mention, and would like to take a moment to share how miraclefeet meets the guidelines for success in Africa, as laid out in the article:
1. Beware the panacea. Millions of dollars are wasted on overly ambitious projects claiming to be a ‘killer app.” Projects that employ tried-and-true interventions, narrower in scope, usually have far greater impact.
miraclefeet is focused only on treating clubfoot, a debilitating but treatable birth defect. All of our programming, including training, technical assistance, capacity building and community outreach, centers around the Ponseti method, the gold standard treatment for clubfoot, which is not only inexpensive but also effective in resolving 95% of cases non-surgically.
2. Demand responsible management. Ask tough questions if money is flowing into a charity, but isn’t flowing out to charitable causes.
80% of our funding goes directly towards programming. The patient records of 95% of the children we treat are contained in an on-line database so quality can be monitored and the impact on the lives of children measured.
3. Avoid duplication. Be aware of other efforts already on the ground and make sure that your program isn’t a wasteful repeat but, preferably, leverages off what’s there.
Our partners are on-the-ground clubfoot champions who know exactly what is needed where. We seek to build on existing services and develop networks with other providers to exchange ideas and identify best practices.
4. Support local, sustainable solutions. Avoid short term fixes by always seeking input from locals; plan for them to run the project on their own in the long-run.
miraclefeet-supported programs are locally-led, tailored to the needs to their communities, and leverage the existing public health system to ensure they are sustainable in the long term. Our programs include advocacy with the local government to ensure permanent change.
5. Beware of poor infrastructure projects. Make sure wells are dug where they’re actually needed, that the bridges and roads are integrated into existing plans by government or other NGOs.
miraclefeet conducts extensive fact-finding missions with local partners and stakeholders before evaluating their proposals. Each program is customized to fit the specific needs of the country.
6. Use technology intelligently. Over 90% of households across sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to electricity for their everyday needs, let alone power for laptops. Make sure locals have the skills, resources, and necessary tools to keep tech-dependent elements of your philanthropic project running.
While our use of smart design and technology keep our costs low, the Ponseti Method itself is very low-tech and easy to replicate in any public health setting. When appropriate, we introduce technology specifically designed for low-resource environments.
7. Be prepared to face corruption. Even when a project has been granted governmental approvals, there’s no guarantee of official cooperation; corruption and regional conflicts pose considerable challenges.
Decisions about our approach are made with local partners and in a way that is very cognizant of any governmental issues within each individual country. Although our programs are conducted in public hospitals, we never send money directly to government entities. All funding is managed by a local NGO partner that provides monthly and quarterly reconciliation of spending.
8. Be culturally appropriate. Put on your anthropologist’s hat. Africans have their own process for dealing with grief and loss; Western-style grief counselors following a natural disaster or war aren’t appropriate.
miraclefeet takes our direction and guidance from our local partners. Whenever possible, we use trainers from the region to train new doctors in order to ensure programs are developed in a culturally appropriate manner.
Our work in Africa will enable us to prevent children from being permanently disabled, allowing them to walk, run, attend school, play sports and be productive members of their communities.
miraclefeet is honored to be recognized for the work we are supporting in South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
A blog post by Vincent, Sr.
"Vincent was born in December 2012 to his parents Vinnie and Dulce. Vincent’s nationality is a unique mix of 37.5% Italian, 12.5% Irish, and 50% Peruvian. As the first grandchild for both sides of the family, Vincent was born into a world of love and happiness.
Vincent was born with right unilateral clubfoot. Vincent had to have a full leg cast, changed weekly, to begin correcting the clubfoot. This lasted for the first 9 weeks of his life. Vincent received his treatment from the wonderful staff at Shriner’s Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts. It wasn’t all bad however, as Vincent quickly learned that, since his clubfoot was slightly turned inward (prior to treatment), it was a lot easier to stick it in his mouth :-).
Vincent soon graduated into wearing what his family adopted as his “boots and bar.” The shoes, which look very similar to Birkenstocks, are angled outward and attached on the bottom of the feet to the bar. This bar allowed Vincent’s feet to be attached together while still giving him the ability to move his legs independently - something that would come in very handy once he learned to crawl. Vincent had to wear his “boots and bar” for 23 hours a day for 3 months. Since his foot responded well to these corrective measures, Vincent is now only required to wear his “boots and bar” at bed time.
A colicky baby at birth, Dulce and Vinnie considered it a victory if he slept for 1 hour straight. At age 4 months Vincent began to flourish and learned to sleep through the night. Due to the fact that Vincent sleeps so long at night, he only needs to wear his boots and bar at bed time (it covers his 10-12 hours that he is supposed to have them on).
At around 10 months, Vincent began pulling himself up and using his foot more. He is now well on his way to walking and we’ve been told his is ahead of the game when it comes to his motor skills.
Vincent is very active and keeps both his parents and grandparents on their toes. His constant motion has helped strengthen his right foot and ankle, as well as become the source of many close call heart attacks for both parents and grandparents alike
Vincent loves to sing and play guitar with his dad, as well as sing and dance with his mother. He has just learned to wave hello, and will continue staring and waving at you until you acknowledge him. Even then it may not be enough to get him to stop waving. He is not what you would call “shy.” Vincent will babble, laugh, sing and smile at anyone who will give him the time of day.
Our “Little Man” has become an inspiration for our entire family. He has overcome more in his first 11 months life than some people do in an entire life span. Vincent’s clubfoot has opened our family’s eyes to the growing problem of children across the world not having access to the same kind of treatment he did for his foot. Vincent was fortunate enough to receive some of the best treatment possible. We came across miraclefeet and saw some of the amazing things they are doing in their attempt to help children all over the world receive the same treatment Vincent had access to. Most importantly, this enables children born with clubfoot to have a childhood with one less worry, and the chance of having a few extra smiles. It is because of this that we have decided to collect donations, instead of gifts, for Vincent’s 1st birthday and all proceeds will be donated to miraclefeet with the hopes that more and more children and families can have the positive experience of our family is having because of this treatment. Every $250 we raise will transform a child’s life!
Donate now at www.miraclefeet.org and please write in “for Vincent’s first birthday” so we can thank you properly!”
~Vinnie and Dulce
Have you been following miraclefeet’s exciting partnership with soccer.com and Ali Krieger? Clubfoot impacts one in 750 children and is one of the most common birth defects worldwide. miraclefeet.org is working to eradicate untreated clubfoot across the world. There is a natural fit between clubfoot and sports because treating clubfoot helps to ensure an active life. Young athletes who we talk to really get that. Famous soccer players like Mia Hamm and Steven Gerrard were born with clubfoot. It is completely fixable 95% of the time with proper treatment!
Kids born with clubfoot who may never have walked can go on to live active, productive lives. The Ponseti Method for which we advocate is non-surgical and costs a total of $250. Here are some players in the Prince William Courage club in Virginia practicing in miraclefeet training socks. The Courage is Ali’s home team!
(socks available at www.soccer.com/miraclefeet)
And here is Ali with our executive director, Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld, helping to raise awareness about clubfoot.
Such a great event! We love our supporters.
Thanks to Ken Krieger, Ali Krieger and the Prince William Courage for their support of @miraclefeet! $5 of every pair goes directly to treating kids born with clubfoot!
Please join us in welcoming Ilana Dubester to the miraclefeet team. Ilana has over 18 years of experience in non-profit leadership in the areas of program development, implementation, capacity building, fundraising, public policy and advocacy. She has served in the field of philanthropy and has relationships with many US and Mexico-based philanthropic foundations. She has been devoted to advancing the rights of Hispanic/Latino families in North Carolina and increasing capacity of organizations to achieve greater results. Her former organizations include Hispanics in Philanthropy, Hispanic Liaison of Chatham County and The Center for What Works. Currently Ilana serves on the boards of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the NC Rural and Economic Development Center. Ilana is originally from Brazil and is fluent in English, Spanish as well as her native Portuguese. Look forward to Ilana’s program updates from the field in Latin America soon!
miraclefeet has hired Ryan Calauor as its Program Manager for Asia. Ryan is a physical therapist who has developed and managed community-based rehabilitation projects for persons with disability in his home country, the Philippines, as well in Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan and Ethiopia with Voluntary Service Overseas and Handicap International. Ryan has direct experience with the Ponseti Method and with the development of clubfoot clinics through his work in Papua New Guinea with a British organization called Voluntary Service Overseas.
Welcome, Ryan! Look for updates from Ryan on our Asia program support soon.
Here is how it went. Brian has raised $1,600 for miraclefeet. Thanks so much for your support and interest along the way! Brian, you are amazing.
"I got up early after not sleeping well - I usually don’t the night before a race, I think because I worry I’ll oversleep - got dressed, and headed downtown. I had carbed up the day before, and felt good. Fortunately, the rain held off, and as I came downtown, the sun was even starting to peek out a bit. It was a bit humid, though, and probably 10 degrees warmer than I would have liked it. There was a good turnout for the race, and at 8 AM, they started the first corral. Being slower, I was toward the back, in corral 7 out of 8.
The first three miles through downtown Cleveland felt good, then it was down the hill on St. Clair into the Flats, across the Center Street Swing Bridge over the Cuyahoga river, then up the Main Ave. hill, where I finally slowed to a walk for part of it, around mile 4.
We continued west down Detroit Ave to the Gordon Square area, where it was fun to see my high school alma mater’s cheerleaders out in force, cheering us on. I shouted “Go Eagles” as I approached, which got them even more fired up. We turned south at West 65th, then back east onto Franklin Blvd, then south on West 25th street, past the venerable West Side Market on one side and Great Lakes Brewing on the other, taking us past the halfway point. I was still (mostly) running, taking the occasional 20 or 30 steps of walking as my thighs started feeling the distance and reporting back.
There were several bands and DJs along the course, and as we headed southeast on Abbey Ave toward the Tremont loop section of the race, we past my favorite, DJ Kishka, wearing his old man hat and fake beard, playing classic polkas by Frankie Yankovic. You can’t be anything but happy when polka music is playing!
At this point, I was really starting to ache, feeling it in my thighs and feet. I had one of my Gu energy packs as I ran down West 11th. I ran through the sprinkler at the water stop at Lincoln Park, which helped.
It was a very packed course - even up to about the 10 or 11 mile point, I was kind of fighting the crowds and hitting slowdown points where a wall of people running side by side were running slower than I was, and had to dance around to get past them.
I twisted my left ankle on a combination of cobblestones, loose sticks and leaves going down the steep narrow hill on Castle Ave, and again on the crumbling road by Clark Fields (the City of Cleveland really failed here - a quick afternoon of a road crew and some hot patch could have REALLY helped all of us, and done something that needed doing anyways).
Checking the published splits, I was doing well up even around the 10 mile point. But that was the big hill at West 7th and Starkeweather, and I think it was around there that the bottoms of my feet started hurting. At that point, I slowed to a walk up the hill, and found myself walking for probably most of the rest of the course. If I could have continued running even just at a normal 5K training pace that I ran at every day, I would have been maybe 10 minutes faster.
At mile 12, in the middle of the mile long Detroit Superior Bridge, a stage was set up and a local Irish band, Craic, was playing one of my favorite Flogging Molly songs. I picked up the pace and ran singing past them.
And of course, a half mile before the finish line, my son started texting me about when am I was going to be done so I could pick him up from a sleepover he had with his buddy! Nothing like trying to pick up the pace to finish strong, while texting your kid that it will be another hour at least!
I emptied the tanks for the last quarter mile, and ended up finishing with a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes, 59 seconds. That’s 12 minutes slower than my personal best, and seven seconds slower than my half marathon time for the Cleveland Marathon this past spring. I had hoped to do better, but still, I ran a pretty strong race, and felt good about it. Not a personal best, but then again, the personal best was from New Orleans, where the elevation variation for the entire marathon course was about 12 feet. So I think I did really well, considering the hills, the heat, the humidity, and the 10 pounds I’ve put back on since then.
I can’t say enough about how well this race was run - the Rock N Roll people really have their acts together! Lots of bands (good bands!) throughout the course, along with high school cheer squads. There were lots of water stations, and towards the end as it heated up, a medical tent started using up their ice by passing handfuls of it out. Even starting in corral 7 of 8, when I finished, everything was still up, there was lots of food and drink (bananas, power bars, pretzels, Gatorade, chocolate milk) AND wet towels soaked in ice water to help cool down.
The music headliner, Gavin DeGraw, didn’t start playing until 10:45, so I managed to catch that, and they had a merchandise booth at the end, along with food trucks (though I didn’t bring my wallet, so no souvenir pint mug for me.) And it seemed like many who finished before me stayed around for the music and the beer tent and maybe even the casino. I really hope they do this one again next year
Thanks so much to everyone for your support! Even though the race is over, you can still donate to miraclefeet via my page, and help give children the gift of walking.
Dillon asked his mom to dedicate his birthday this year to miraclefeet after reading about us through a local fundraising promotion. What a thoughtful young man! Here is Dillon’s story, from his mom:
"This is my son Dillon. He is a twin and his twin brother’s name is Preston. We found out Dillon was going to be born with clubfoot at a prenatal ultrasound and were well-prepared to deal with it when he was born. We were fortunate to have a very well-trained and experienced physician trained in the Ponseti Method in our area. He explained the entire process to us before Dillon was born. Dillon’s left foot was casted the day after he was born.
Here are some photos of Dillon wearing his brace, which we named his “magic shoes.” He wore the brace daily for the first 6 months and then every night for 2 years.
His foot is now totally functional and he is a great athlete. We are so very grateful for this very effective treatment!
We would like to help miraclefeet provide this relatively simple and highly effective therapy to children around the world so they do not have to suffer the consequences of untreated clubfoot.”
Donate now in honor of Dillon here: http://www.miraclefeet.org/. You can note that it is in his honor easily at the bottom of the donation page (under “if you have a special purpose for your donation, please let us know [and write in Dillon’s name and even a personal message]”). To send in your donation instead, mail a check to: miraclefeet, 605 West Main Street, Suite 107, Carrboro, NC 27510.
Thank you for honoring Dillon!
miraclefeet co-sponsored a huge charity event in India last week along with CURE International India Trust, our partner organization there. It was the first ever race of its kind in Delhi. The event was called Footsteps4Good and its proceeds will benefit 17 different NGOs working in India.
Check out some photos from this event below, which more than 5,000 people ran and walked. What an inspiring day! Big thanks for Santosh George, Executive Director for CURE International India Trust, for getting miraclefeet involved in this terrific event.
CURE clubfoot clinic staff members at the race.
Runners waiting to start.
John Abraham of Bollywood fame is Cure’s new spokesperson, helping build awareness about clubfoot across India.
We love the miraclefeet t-shirts!