AFOs, Magic Boots & A Mother’s Love

by Aculbertson

All kids dream of magical adventures in faraway places.

Dragons. Jungles. Talking animals. With enough imagination, nothing is out of reach. And for one little girl, all she needed was a special pair of boots.


Finding The Boots

Arianna and her mother Karen share many things in common. One of them just happens to be Beals syndrome. It can cause a number of physical obstacles such as pigeon toes and clubfeet. That meant Arianna spent much of her childhood in AFOs and physical therapy.

As you’d expect, that comes with its own challenges. It didn’t take long for questions to pop up. Why do I have to go to physical therapy? Why can’t I just play with my friends? Why do I have to wear AFOs?

Karen didn’t just empathize with her daughter. She understood the frustrations firsthand. Karen had also worn AFOs, but braces have evolved a great deal in the time between mother and daughter. The version Karen wore were heavy, clunky, and the metal would squeak as she walked.

As Arianna struggled with one exhausting physical therapy exercise after the next, it was clear she wanted to be somewhere, anywhere else. Karen thought. Physically, that was impossible. But in her imagination…

That’s how the stories started. Karen told her daughter to pretend the AFOs were magic boots that transported her to incredible places. Arianna wasn’t in physical therapy anymore. Instead, she was exploring the jungle and swimming with mermaids, which made her PT time much more enjoyable.

The stories soon took on a life of their own as they spread to other parents. A thought popped into Karen’s head, “Why not put pictures to my words and see if other kids related?”


A Book Is Born

It took time to find the right illustrator, but the adventures have been brought to life with colorful, vibrant pictures.

The first book in the series, Arianna’s Magic Boots, is now available through Amazon. In it, 5-year-old Arianna’s AFOs transform into safari boots, transporting her to a jungle. And when a baby monkey needs help, she’s up to the challenge.

Now a teenager, the real Arianna is passed the age of needing make believe. But countless kids all over the world struggle with therapy appointments, wearing orthotics, or simply feeling different. And that’s what motivates Karen to continue writing.

“I get to help other children not feel the way I felt when I was younger and I had to wear them,” she said. “It gives children a different outlook on wearing their braces.”


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