From Walking to Running – Damon’s Story

We recently tagged along to Damon’s appointment where he received not one, but two, new pairs of AFOs with the help of Variety. These ankle-foot orthoses are extremely helpful in Damon’s daily life.

Damon was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was very young, and has required orthotics for most of his 12 years. His feet are not aligned properly, making it difficult to walk – in fact, Damon did not walk until he was four years old.

But now, Damon can run.

In order to get to this point, Damon has needed a new pair of AFOs just about every year. Just like a pair of shoes, the orthotics can wear out over time, and growing kids like Damon also grow out of them. Plus, Damon’s needs can change over time, often for the better.

Damon’s daily pair of AFOs are not a perfectly matched set – the AFO on his right ankle is noticeably shorter than the one on his left. This is because, after years of wearing these daily, Damon’s right ankle and foot have become strong enough that he doesn’t need as much support. His newest pair features the shortest right AFO yet, a great milestone.

Another hurdle Damon faces is tight calf muscles, which can also make it difficult to walk, run and play. To help, Damon received a second new pair of orthotics called “Stretching AFOs.” Decked out in a cool car print, these AFOs are only meant to be worn for a couple hours a day, but will hopefully make a world of difference.

Using a small wrench, a level of stretch is selected on each AFO. The orthotics are then placed on Damon’s ankles, where they keep his calves in a permanent stretching position for the time he is wearing them. Damon started at a level three – the goal will be to increase this level over time to aid in relaxing his muscles and making it easier for him to move naturally. And run even faster.

Sometimes, we are asked why Variety helps children from birth to 21. Damon is a perfect example of our answer, “Because kids grow.” Not only do they grow out of pieces of equipment, but also, like in Damon’s case, their needs change over time.

If you’d like to support Variety Kids and their growing and changing needs, head on over to