Fresno, CA (May 29, 2021) – Aaron England is like a lot of other 8-year-old boys. He spends time playing outside with friends, riding his bike and swimming. But unlike many kids his age, Aaron is devoting much of his time these days for a special project to raise money to help kids around the world.
Aaron was born with Congenital Talipes Equinovarus or clubfoot. Because of his struggles to overcome this treatable birth defect, Aaron has a special place in his heart to help others in poor countries who may not have the same access to treatment that he did in the US.
Clubfoot is a deformity present at birth that twists the foot downward and inward, making walking difficult or impossible. While it cannot be prevented, it can be corrected using a relatively inexpensive treatment process called the Ponseti method, the gold standard of clubfoot treatment.
“I have clubfoot, and I think about people having to walk a long way to the doctor [in developing countries], and I want to help them,” Aaron said. “I went through a lot with my surgeries and everything. I just want to help people who have to walk a long way and it is really hard to get help for clubfoot.”
In the past, Aaron and his family raised money with a bake sale for Hope Walks, a non-profit that provides clubfoot treatment at no cost to families in 16 countries in Africa and Latin America. Because of the global pandemic last year, he dropped the bake sale and instead sold seedlings he grew and friendship bracelets he and his sister made. Now that pandemic restrictions have eased, they are adding the bake sale back into his growing fundraiser.
Last year, he raised more than $3,000 for clubfoot treatment. This year, he hopes to raise at least that much. An anonymous donor has agreed to match all gifts up to $3,500 giving Aaron an opportunity to double his fundraising goal.
Aaron fundraiser is typically the closest Saturday to June 3, which is recognized as World Clubfoot Day. The day is set aside to honor the birthday of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, who developed the minimally invasive clubfoot-correction technique of casts and braces, which now bears his name. Dr. Ponseti, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 95, was a Spanish physician who immigrated to the US shortly after the Spanish Civil War. He developed his ground-breaking procedure as a faculty member and practicing physician at the University of Iowa.
“Aaron had many struggles and complications after his surgery,” Anjie England, Aaron’s mother, said. “He never had a bad attitude. He never lost hope. He has never stopped thinking about others.”
“We consider it an honor to walk this journey. It is our joy to help Hope Walks,” Anjie said. “I am so proud of him for working hard on his own and having such a generous and compassionate heart.”
Aaron will be entering the third grade at Lincoln Elementary, Clovis Unified School District, in the fall.
What Hope Walks does
Hope Walks is a non-profit based in Dillsburg, PA, whose mission is to free children and families from the physical, emotional and economic burden of clubfoot. Every three minutes, a child is born with clubfoot somewhere in the world, including children like Aaron in the US. However, the majority of clubfoot births happen in low- and middle-income countries where many don’t know treatment is possible or simply cannot afford it. Even in the US, most people have never heard of clubfoot or know it devastates the life of a child if left untreated. With simple treatment and for a few hundred dollars, Hope Walks frees kids from disability and transforms their lives both physically and spiritually.
“Being born with a disability in a low- or middle-income country isn’t just a financial hardship, it’s a life-altering source of shame, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” Hope Walks President Scott Reichenbach said. “Hope Walks is honored and touched that Aaron is supporting our efforts. We couldn’t be more proud of our youngest spokesperson.”
Aaron will be selling his baked goods, plants and bracelets outside of his home to friends and neighbors. Even though shipping his items is not possible, you can still show your support for this young philanthropist by donating online at Aaron’s Hope, www.hopewalks.org/aaronshope.