Born with club feet, Roberta knows firsthand what it feels like to be embarrassed and ashamed because of a physical deformity. Throughout her life, doctors told Roberta that she wouldn’t be able to run…but not only does Roberta now run, surf, and hike, she is also a member of Team Fresh Start and is running the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon on behalf of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts and kids everywhere who suffer from a physical deformity.
Roberta and 2 of her brothers were born with club feet, where the feet appear rotated internally at the ankle. Roberta received extensive surgeries as a child and many years of physical therapy – it wasn’t until Roberta was about 8 or 9 that she began to play outside. As a child, Roberta never liked going to public pools, friends’ houses to swim, the beach, gym class, or anywhere that exposed her feet – “I just could not stand the stares and the laughing from the kids in school. Even adults would often stare.”
Although Roberta thrived after her club feet surgeries and physical therapy, Roberta faced yet another challenge in 1992 when she was involved in a car accident. The car accident left Roberta with a broken neck, or hangman’s fracture, which required a risky surgery and impaired her ability to walk and perform daily functions. After the surgery, Roberta required a halo brace on her head and had to attend physical therapy to relearn how to walk – with the halo brace, many people would stare at Roberta, just like when she was a child with club feet. Doctors told Roberta that she would most likely never be able to play sports or even run again.
Despite the challenges, Roberta wasn’t going to let her accident hold her back from enjoying life – although it took many years, Roberta got back into running, biking, and even surfing. Now at 53, Roberta runs 5-6 days each week, with her daily runs usually 10 miles and a longer run of 16-20 miles once a week.
This is Roberta’s first marathon and she is pumped and ready to run for Team Fresh Start: “I can relate to Fresh Start’s kids’ stories. I love the idea that there are doctors and nurses and so many volunteers out there helping children. These kids need to know that they are loved and are beautiful. It is wonderful to know that there are places likes Fresh Start that these children can count on. I am so proud to be able to join in and help – it is a very personal run.”
You can help Roberta reach her goal of $2,600 for Fresh Start - just visit her fundraising page and donate today! If you’re also interested in joining Team Fresh Start and providing a brighter future for children with physical deformities, visit our Team Fresh Start page and learn more.