Beth Deloria is on track to run 48 races in 24 months and her next stop is the second annual Run for Life on Saturday, June 15 at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette.
But her journey, difficult for any runner, has an extra challenge: Deloria runs despite foot drop paralysis of the lower leg and foot. Beth knows very well how foot drop affected her mobility. Prior to the spinal injury that left her with foot drop, Deloria had competed in major marathon events from Chicago to Boston.
“My capability essentially declined from running over 26 miles regularly to having difficulty walking without tripping,” she says.
While she is in her native Marquette, Deloria will visit Bay Cliff Health Camp. The mission
of the camp, which was founded more than 75 years ago, is a place where children and adults with physical disabilities learn to believe in themselves, strive for fuller lives and realize dreams. She will share her challenges and successes with campers and staff.
Deloria’s quest has become a national effort to educate and inspire the thousands of Americans who also live with foot drop. She believes in the proverb, ‘Fall seven times, get up eight.’ Her inspirational ‘Get Back Up’ message is gaining supporters both on the street and online.
“I hope my experience battling foot drop can help encourage those affected by the disorder not to let it steal their quality of life,” she says.
That is Beth’s main reason for her quest: to let them know they can reclaim their lives by overcoming mobility issues.
“Get Back Up means something different for everyone with foot drop,” says Beth. “It can mean a marathon runner getting back up to run again, or it can mean a school teacher getting back up to walk down the hallway without tripping.”
Deloria uses a technologically advanced, carbon fiber orthotic device designed to mimic the biophysical movement of the muscles in her legs and feet. The trauma caused nerve damage that resulted in paralysis of the muscles of her left foot and ankle, meaning she could no longer flex her foot upward as is necessary for a natural walking or running gait. Among the causes for the paralysis associated with foot drop are stroke, multiple
sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and neuropathy often associated with diabetes.
Beth is Manager of Community Outreach for Allard USA; the company that manufactures the ToeOFF® brace she uses to regain the mobility that foot drop would otherwise take away. Deloria has run with the brace for about seven years, during which time she ran her fastest marathon ever and competed three times in the Boston Marathon.