December 12, 2017

Hearts2Soles Provides Free Foot Exam, Shoes to Local Homeless

Dec. 11, 2017 | Her youngest daughter, Cheyenne, covets new shoes like most 10-year-old children; her oldest child, 13-year-old Sequoia, continues to hit growth spurts every few months making new shoes a necessity; and she, 35-year-old Virginia Duck, has worn through the soles from her current pair of shoes.

Those circumstances made the annual Hearts2Soles event led by UAMS’ Ruth Thomas, M.D., at River City Ministry in North Little Rock a relief for Duck’s entire family.

Ruth Thomas, M.D., working on a patient’s foot

Ruth Thomas, M.D., professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, has led efforts for a decade through Hearts2Soles to provide an annual event where the area’s homeless, working poor and disabled can receive free medical foot care and shoes.

Duck and her girls were three of the 60 homeless, working poor and disabled to receive free medical foot care, shoes and multiple pairs of socks Nov. 30.

In addition to Thomas and staff from UAMS, helping at the event were staff from Snell Prosthetic & Orthotic Laboratory and other volunteers. The event has been spearheaded since its inception by Thomas, professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine.

The first Hearts2Soles event in North Little Rock was in 2008. Stephen Conti, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon from Pittsburgh, who started Our Hearts to Your Soles that works in partnership with Soles4Souls, reached out to Thomas about starting a similar operation in Arkansas.

Since then, Thomas and her volunteers have set up at River City Ministry every year, except 2014 when a shortage of shoes forced the group to cancel, to help the less fortunate in central Arkansas.

“This is just one way we can help the homeless in our community,” said Thomas. “Obviously, the participants get a lot out of tonight, but so do our volunteers who come back year after year to help. We love being able to help.”

UAMS Hearts2Soles

Virginia Duck and her two daughters (left to right), Cheyenne and Sequoia, were three of the 60 homeless, working poor and disabled to receive medical care of their feet and a new pair of shoes Nov. 30 at the River City Ministry in North Little Rock

After signing in and receiving a plate of food, participants were called back one at a time for a foot bath in warm water, followed by an exam and pedicure. Then, each participant was fitted for a new pair of shoes donated by Red Wing Shoes, as well as a few pair of socks.

Waiting to be fitted for her own shoes, Duck smiled as Cheyenne showed off a new pair of colorful socks and Sequoia sported a shiny pair of white sneakers.

“This is important to us,” said Duck. “Most of the homeless and less fortunate need new shoes often, because of the amount of walking. Personally, I’m happy to see my girls so excited about getting new shoes.”

By | December 11th, 2017 |