Only 26 days until our World Clubfoot Day, California event on June 4! One of the speakers we’ll have, Ironman competitor Tony Spineto, knows firsthand the struggles of clubfoot from both having it as a child and now as the father of a child with the same deformity. We’ll let his own words speak for himself:
“I was born with bilateral clubfoot in 1975. As my mom describes it to me I had a mix of surgeries and a hybrid form of some kind of Ponseti method. At the time little was known about clubfoot treatments and surgeries were the common form of interventions. I had castings and such with corrective shoes. Growing up I did have pain and complained often about walking long distances and even standing was extremely difficult. However, I did not let that get in the way of my love for sports. I played soccer, football, and baseball as a kid.
As I got older the pain got worse and I did not stay active after high school. I began to gain a serious amount of weight because of the pain and became very unhealthy. At 260 pounds and just having my first child I knew that my health was moving in the wrong direction. My wife challenged me to lose weight and find a sport to keep me active. I did my first triathlon 7 years ago and did not know that day my life would be forever changed. I finished that race and was in a tremendous amount of pain but I knew I had something special going on. Shortly after I finished that I began to take my health seriously. I lost over 100 pounds and decided to keep racing, but why would I keep going if my pain was becoming a problem?
Nine years ago I received the devastating news that my son also would be born with clubfoot. Devastated as you can imagine I began to question everything and wondered why. I began to see my racing as a gift along with my clubfoot. I began to reach out through social media hoping to find triathletes with clubfoot especially doing Ironman races (Ironman is a 2.5 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile marathon). I did not find any so I began a blog hoping to connect with other clubfoot athletes. I did not find any but I did discover was several parents contacting asking if their children would be active and normal like other kids. What I realized is that people needed support and information. I began to reach out to them and let them know all things are possible regardless of one’s limitations.
Triathlon and racing at a high level has been a blessing. Even though its extremely difficult on me I am able to spread awareness and inspiration for parents, children and adults with clubfoot that anything is possible. Since then I have been able to share through my social media feeds many wonderful organizations such as STEPS and miraclefeet who are changing the lives of many world wide. I want to be a source of inspiration and bring comfort to parents of clubfoot children that things will be fine and use my triathlon career as an example. The road is difficult with Boots and Bars and casting but the outcomes are amazing.
My son has finished three kid’s triathlons, loves to skateboard, ride bikes and even surfs. He has played baseball and loves sports. I talk to him daily and explain to him that his clubfeet are a gift and one day he too will be a helpful source of inspiration for children his age.”
Follow Tony as he defies the odds and provides support for clubfoot families: