Nicole was devastated when her son Casper was diagnosed with clubfoot in week 20 of her pregnancy. She kept telling herself, “It could be worse,” but she was simultaneously eager to get his treatment over and done with so she and her family could move on with their lives and never have to think about it again. After all, her doctors had assured her it would be an “easy fix."
Photos care of Nicole Bytnerowics
Not quite. Contrary to what doctors had told Nicole to expect, her son’s case was difficult to treat, resulting in trips from New York to a specialist in Iowa for repeated treatments. During this frustrating and exhausting time, Nicole and her husband met other parents who were facing the same hurdles she and her family were experiencing, and - to add unintentional insult to blame-free injury - she also noticed a general lack of awareness and understanding of clubfoot. Many people who were confused about Casper’s condition noticed his full leg casts (which standard treatment involves) and actually questioned whether Nicole had dropped her baby. Ouch.
To address this calamitous lack of awareness, Nicole and other purpose-driven moms got together and decided to help the community they had initially been apprehensive to join. Their mission? To support parents of children with clubfoot through the maze from diagnosis to the conclusion of treatment and to eradicate stigmas surrounding clubfoot by compassionately raising awareness of the condition and its preferred non-surgical treatment, the Ponseti method.
Photos care of Jill Harold
The requests the Clubfoot CARES team gets from doctors requesting their brochures and the emails they get from parents and patients thanking them for support and resources make their back-breaking, full-time-work-without-a-salary-all-while-raising-a-family efforts worth every ounce of sweat and tears. Nicole says, “Having children helped me recognize the difference between a hobby and a passion. Before I had kids, I did things because I enjoyed doing them. Now, I do things that set my heart on fire. The condition that I was hoping I would one day forget about has become my calling, and I cannot wait to continue empowering these families to be the warriors we know they are.”
Nicole and the rest of the Clubfoot CARES family invite you to reach out to them with your questions. Your simply knowing more helps the clubfoot community. Want to do more? Use checkout code GIVE741 and we will donate 10% of your PLAE shoes’ purchase price directly to Clubfoot CARES. You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.