When 17-year-old Ariana de la Cruz learned that her nephew was going to be born with club feet, she decided she wanted to do something to raise awareness to help correct the common birth defect.
“I’ve always wanted to do a fundraiser to kind of give back to the community because I’ve always known that I have a very privileged life compared to a lot of other people, living in the U.S. and everything,” she said.
She did some research and found that club feet is a very common birth defect everywhere in the world –– one in 750 kids are born with it, she said.
De la cruz is fundraising for Miraclefeet, an international organization “treating clubfoot, one step at a time.”
“The babies are born with their feet pointed inward. It’s really easy to treat, compared to a lot of other things,” she said. “And it only costs $250 to take a kid through the whole process of treating their feet.”
According to de la Cruz, the most common treatment is the “Ponseti method,” in which casts are put on the baby’s feet, starting when she or he just a few days old, to slowly turn the feet outward.
Sometimes a simple surgery is needed to release the achilles tendon. After the baby’s feet are in the correct position, the baby wears a brace nearly all the time for several months. Then the brace is worn only at night and naptime. The brace –– leather shoes connected by an aluminum bar –– is designed to keep the feet turned outward, she said.
De la Cruz set up a crowdfunding account at crowdrise.com/augustclubfootcampaign to raise money for families that might not otherwise be able to afford the simple treatment.
She also held a fundraiser in June at the El Sombrero restaurant in Key Center, where she works.
Pablo de la Cruz, the manager of the restaurant, is Ariana’s father and he’s well-known in the community for helping others when there’s a need.
“We gave 10 percent of the restaurant’s profits that day (last month) to my campaign,”Ariana said proudly. “We had tons of support from the community.”
Ariana’s older sister, Alexandra Johnson, is impressed by what her younger sister is doing. “She’s trying to raise awareness and trying to help kids that don’t have the good medical coverage we have,” Johnson said. “It’s a great cause. It’s such a simple fix but so many people don’t know about it.”
Pablo de la Cruz agreed. “I’m proud of my daughter doing what she’s doing to help other people. I want to help her in any way I can. She’s my daughter –– what can I say?” he asked with a shrug and a smile.
As with other fundraisers, de la Cruz has hosted at the restaurant over the past eight years, community response for Ariana’s event was great.
“This is a good community and they come together whenever we have an event to support a cause,” he said. “Whoever needs help, we’ll do whatever we can do to help.”
Brennen Johnson, Ariana’s brother-in-law was quick to point out that it doesn’t take much do a lot of good for other people.
“If a fantastic 17-year-old kid like Ari can do something like this, other people can too,” Johnson said. “We just need to open our hearts and look at the types of things we can fix and go out and do something about it.”