Our feet are in motion from the moment we swing our legs out of bed in the morning, until we climb that last set of stairs at night. People have used their feet to run marathons, to kick winning goals, and even to walk on the moon. Every day, people across the world are using their feet to do amazing things, yet somehow, we still manage to take our feet for granted. Kristy Bruursema never imagined that feet would become a main concern within her family, but on June 17, 2012, that would change.
It was a Saturday morning, and despite the daily household bustle, Kristy’s husband had given her the green light to enjoy a local craft fair with a friend. As she was leaving, her husband mentioned that he was planning on mowing the lawn. Excited to have a day out of the house, she left for what she expected to be a carefree morning. Just a few short hours into the fair, Kristy’s phone rang. Immediately, she could tell something terrible had happened. Through sobs, Kristy’s husband explained that his worst fear had happened:
He accidentally struck their son, Avery, with the lawn mower.
Afraid to ask whether or not her son was alive, Kristy rushed to the hospital to aid her injured son. Avery was alive, but had toes missing. Upon entering the emergency room, Kristy became emotional, but knew that she had to hold the seams of her family together. Her motherly instincts kicked in as she approached her wounded son. She did her best to relieve her husband from any guilt he felt, and together, they were able to approach the situation as a team. Despite the obvious pain and devastation, they made remarkable strides at portraying positivity and demonstrating determination and strength to Avery.
Without mentioning that Avery’s toes were missing, she and her husband did everything they could to take care of him. When the time finally came at the hospital to explain to Avery that he was missing his toes, Kristy and her husband approached the subject delicately. When Avery asked if he would ever walk again, Kristy had one confident word for him.
Weeks later, upon returning from the hospital, Kristy was determined to find ways to keep Avery’s spirits up. What surprised Kristy most, even more than her own determination was the amount of support she and her family received from the small community of Pentwater, Michigan.
“We never realized how many people in our town loved us. It brought us a lot of hope and happiness,” said Kristy.
After weeks of hospital visits, Kristy decided it was time to encourage Avery to attempt walking. She remembered letting Avery play Angry Birds on her phone during the first week at the hospital, as a distraction from the pain he was going through. Hopeful that this could be the motivation he needed, she promised to let Avery play Angry Birds at home if he tried walking. Kristy inquired about the proper shoes that Avery would need to become successful at walking again, and when Kristy found the perfect shoes on Zappos, she ordered a pair of Keens.
Kristy’s husband was at work the day the Zappos box arrived in the mail. Excited to see Avery in his new shoes, she helped Avery put them on for the first time. Discouraged and cautious at first, Avery limped and hobbled, but Kristy continued to cheer him on. Moments later, with persistence and perseverance, Avery took his first steps since the lawnmower accident.
“It was an emotional moment!” said Kristy. “Every moment has changed my family and the way we look at things.”
Having new shoes and enduring this journey to walk has been important for Kristy’s family. Since the accident, Kristy and her husband’s main concern has been building Avery’s self esteem back up. Avery will be starting kindergarten soon, and although he is unsure of what it will entail, he is excited to make new friends. They don’t want him to worry about what people might think of him, they just want him to enjoy being a kid.
When rambunctious and feisty five-year-old Avery tells people not to touch his bad foot, Kristy reminds him without hesitation, that it’s not a “bad foot.”
It’s just a foot.