Tripping over everything, leg weakness, and losing balance were all things that Julie Stone spent a lifetime experiencing. In order to manage, she would wear a lot of high-top shoes and even wrap her feet in order to keep her ankle up. But those short-term solutions did not prove to be effective. This was especially difficult, as Julie has always been active. Julie resisted the solution that her doctors suggested to her, which was to try AFO’s. In fact, since the age of six, she has pretended her disability didn’t exist. It wasn’t until she was 28 that she learned of her diagnosis, which is Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT).
A few years ago, she suffered several injuries due to her Foot Drop and knew that she could no longer ignore the problem. She happened to attend a conference for CMT where she was introduced to Allard USA. While looking at the AFO’s on display, Julie learned the story of TeamUP Co-Captain Virginia Mamone, who also has a diagnosis of CMT and realized that Virginia didn’t see her AFO’s to be a setback but as a way to live her life to the fullest. That was when Julie thought that she could regain some of the mobility she had lost. In addition, she felt that maybe, she too, could fully live, if she was able to accept her disability:
“It’s been about a year and a half since I started wearing Blue Rockers® and whoa has my life changed. When I first got them, it took about five months to start showing them off; I thought for sure everyone would stare and make fun of them, but no one cared! The whole time it was all in my head! Now that I have started to show them off, I can’t hide them anymore. No one should ever be ashamed to be in leg braces or use any devices that will help enhance their mobility. These products should be embraced, not feared and not thought of as a loss in ability. I want to break these stereotypes around being disabled and using medical devices, like AFOs. My biggest goal is to show them off in hopes that maybe a younger person with CMT or any other disability will see me, in the grocery store, or in the park, or even on Instagram and see that I’m not ashamed to be wearing them and disabled people can be stylish and fit too. I hope I can help others build the confidence to wear their AFOs proudly so medical devices are less taboo in society and just considered the norm!”
You can currently find Julie on Instagram @CMTdefy and at www.cmtdefy.com. There you will see links to her YouTube channel where she shows adaptive exercises and CMT specific workouts, as well as information on current virtual classes she teaches all week. Her goal is to make fitness accessible to all and to educate people on what life is like living with disabilities. She also works to defy the stereotypes around disability.