miraclefeet hires new Latin America Program Manager!

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’s Asia program kicks off!

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.


Brian’s half-marathon: raising money for clubfoot!

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’s 6th birthday: a fundraiser for clubfoot treatment at miraclefeet!

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 partners on clubfoot awareness at 1st Annual Delhi Charity Run

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!


Brian’s update: Half-marathon for miraclefeet & clubfoot!

Brian’s half marathon is less than a week away. Here is his last blog before the big day. Brian was born with clubfoot and he is running to help others walk:

"The Cleveland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon is less than a week away.  I was due to run a 3 mile run this past Saturday, and then a 12 mile run on Sunday. For some reason, my heart, and my body, were not into it this weekend, and I spent the entire weekend just resting quietly at home. I felt a twinge of guilt, but then again, I have trained better and more diligently this time than I have for either of my full marathons. And I had a great 11 mile run the prior weekend wearing my new shoes, one in which had I pushed just a little more, I would have set a new personal best time. I hope that this weekend I have the same or better run.

Physically, I’m in pretty good shape. The new Hoka One shoes take a lot of the load off of my ankles and calves, and I am finding that the big muscles in my thighs are working more, which is a good thing.  I wish I had a few more weeks to train in them.  I think the extra work in the upper legs would really increase my odds for a personal best.  I haven’t lost as much weight as I would have hoped either, but I have lost some, which is better than none. 

Mentally, a little less.  I’ve been having focus issues while running, and have had trouble getting in and staying in “the zone.”  I’ve found that I perform best when I can put my head into that space where I don’t necessarily notice what is going on with my body, and just let my body do what I have trained for.  I’m starting to “psych up”  for the run now, and have found a couple of albums (oops, showing my age there!) that will help power me through what seems to be my difficult spot, miles 7 to 10.

I have two more days of training runs left, tapering runs, less distance and time than the runs of the past three weeks.

Then, two days of rest.

Saturday, the day before, I’ll head downtown and get a peek at the newly remodeled Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center, where the Health and Fitness Expo is being held, and pick up my race number, running chip and goodie bag, checking out the various vendors.  After that, I’m thinking a good “carbing up” dinner of potato and cheese pierogi, cabbage and noodles, and kielbasa  at Sokolowski’s. Then, early to bed.

And Sunday morning, time to fly.  Time to beat: 2 hours, 37 minutes, 49 seconds.  They are expecting between 7,000 and 8,000 runners.  The weather forecast looks to be a high of 73 degrees, with a 70% chance of thunderstorms.  Hopefully, the rain will hold off some during the race.


Wish me luck!  I will do my best.

I hope you will all do your best as well.  There’s still time to help me reach my other goal of raising $2500 for miraclefeet, and, in doing so, help give others the gift of walking! In these last few days, please help, and give what you can.  Every gift counts!  We have already raised enough to cure four children in developing countries of clubfoot thanks to you!”



Brian’s half-marathon training update: a miraclefeet fundraiser!

Brian is now only one month away from running his half marathon. Here is his latest blog post about running a “warm up” half this past weekend. Go, Brian: you are truly an inspiration!

"I was due to run a Sunday training of 10 miles. I am now four weeks out from the Rock and Roll Half Marathon, and I saw that, on my 10 miler Sunday, another half marathon, the River Run Half Marathon, was scheduled. Its course crosses the Cleveland Metroparks, running through a section known as the "Emerald Necklace," a chain of parks and green spaces that circles metropolitan Cleveland. I’d run this same half marathon about five or six years ago, and remember running it very slowly. I figured maybe I should try again, as a prelude to the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, to see how I was doing. So, on a lark, I went to the registration packet pick-up the day before and signed up.

“It’s only 3.1 miles more than what I’m supposed to run anyway. What’s an extra 5K?” I thought.  

Quite a lot, apparently.

I arrived out at Wallace Lake in Berea, Ohio (home of the Cleveland Browns’ training camp) around 6:30 AM.  I thought the race started at 7:30 - turns out it started at 8 AM, so I was a little early.  It was cloudy and gray, with patchy fog through the valley, and noticeably cooler than it had been over the past couple days. This actually worked in my favor, allowing me a nice slow warm-up and the hope of staying cool through the run.

The race started, and we were off.  I felt really good for the first three miles.  The race is mainly downhill, from Berea, OH north through the parkway, along the Rocky River, into Lakewood, Ohio, almost to Lake Erie. However, since it’s through a river valley, the road snakes left and right, following the river.  In many places, the banking left and right of the road was extremely noticeable, feeling like you were running on the side of a hill. I really started noticing it in my ankles. I slowed down to a walk to catch my breath around mile five, then ran until mile 8.

At mile 8, I hit a wall. I’m not sure what happened, but I suddenly lost all drive and motivation. I wanted to stop right there and sit down and cry.  My feet hurt, I was tired, I was drenched in sweat. There were no spectators other than birds and a few deer, squirrels and raccoons. A lot of negativity swirled in my head. I was ready to quit. I slowed to a walk and posted a note on Facebook about it.  Fortunately, a few friends posted some inspiration, and I was able to pick up the pace. After a slow three miles, I started up again, and managed to finish with a not too horrible time.  It wasn’t the best of runs, but I persevered, and finished strong, sprinting the last tenth of a mile.


Finish line!

I didn’t give up on this run, and with a month left until the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, I’m not giving up on my training, trying to improve my time and lose a little more weight.  I’m also not giving up on trying to hit my goal of raising $2,500 for miraclefeet. That will give TEN kids born with clubfoot the life changing gift of walking, and running!

So I would ask that you give up, just a little bit, to help me reach this goal.  Give up a couple of bigger lunches for an apple a couple of days.  Give up that fancy Starbucks latte, just for a week. Give up that movie night out with a giant soda and popcorn, just once. Take what you would have spent and use it to help give others the gift of walking. Thank you all so much for your support.” 

Donate today here: http://www.crowdrise.com/BriansRockNRun/fundraiser/brianpaganelli


Meet Laurie - miraclefeet’s Newest Endurance Team Member!

This is Laurie!


Laurie is forty-five years old and was born with clubfoot. After she was born, the doctors told her mother that she would never walk. Her mother never believed that, and she never let Laurie believe that either. Fortunately, Laurie proved them wrong. In high school, she started running varsity track. Recently she has competed in several sprint triathlons, 5K’s, 10K’s, half-marathons, and even a Spartan Race. Her true passion is to inspire others by showing them that, no matter what the obstacle is, hard work and determination will always help you overcome. Laurie has done many races with “MyTeam Triumph – Massachusetts,” a team that pushes children with disabilities who are in wheelchairs in road races. In March 2013, Laurie pushed a child through a half-marathon! Laurie has been searching for a way to help children and adults who still suffer from clubfoot. Laurie came across miraclefeet earlier this year and was thrilled at the opportunity to share her story and to tell those who suffer, “yes, you can!”  For her next race, Laurie will be fundraising for miraclefeet.