Club-feet awareness spreads on Key with local fundraiser

Scott Turner A recent fundraiser at El Sombrero restaurant raised cash and awareness for club feet, a common but fixable birth defect. Pictured here, from left, are Pablo de la Cruz, Alex Johnson and August Johnson, Brennen and Corbin Johnson and Ariana de la Cruz. Photo by Scott Turner, KP News

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.

“Ive always wanted to do a fundraiser to kind of give back to the community because Ive 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. Its 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 babys 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 babys 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 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 Arianas father and hes well-known in the community for helping others when theres a need.

“We gave 10 percent of the restaurants profits that day (last month) to my campaign,”Ariana said proudly. “We had tons of support from the community.”

Arianas older sister, Alexandra Johnson, is impressed by what her younger sister is doing. “Shes trying to raise awareness and trying to help kids that dont have the good medical coverage we have,” Johnson said. “Its a great cause. Its such a simple fix but so many people dont know about it.”

Pablo de la Cruz agreed. “Im proud of my daughter doing what shes doing to help other people. I want to help her in any way I can. Shes 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 Arianas 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, well do whatever we can do to help.”

Brennen Johnson, Arianas brother-in-law was quick to point out that it doesnt 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.”   To contribute to Ariana de la Cruz’s campaign to help treat club feet, visit The account will remain open indefinitely. For information on Miraclefeet, visit[/box]