Changing Lives, One Foot At A Time-Freedom Walk Foundation

Changing Lives, One Foot At A Time

Imagine having one foot that weighs 

50 pounds. What would life be like?

By Gary S. Hatrick

No jumping out of bed to greet the day; no spritely walk down the street or through the park and no quickly getting to the refrigerator during a free streaming movie commercial.

Most of us who can walk are used to walking without thinking, but there are people who cannot do that because they suffer from Foot Drop.

“Foot Drop is when the muscle that makes your foot go up and down has some type of weakness or paralysis,” explained Daisy Vega, founder and president of the Freedom to Walk Foundation. “It could be due to multiple sclerosis, like myself, or cerebral palsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury or it could be spinal cord injury – things like that.”

Freedom to Walk Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that helps individuals with Foot Drop to acquire walk-aid technology to allow them to walk more normally. Daisy and her Board of Directors serve as a volunteer team of facilitators helping families and individuals raise the money needed to get rid of that “50-pound” burden.

According to the FTWF website, “Foot Drop can make it difficult to lift the front part of the foot – an action required for taking a basic step. With Foot Drop, the foot hangs lose with the toes pointing down, which can cause the foot to drag when attempting to walk normally. For some, Foot Drop may lead to an abnormal high-step, called steppage gait. Steppage gait occurs when an individual must lift the leg higher to prevent their foot from dragging while walking.”

Daisy is no stranger to the problem. “I've had multiple sclerosis for the past 39 years. I was diagnosed at age of 21,” she said. She has endured the ravages of MS including optic neuritis and foot drop. In fact, one of the machines she helps people to obtain helped her to the point where she no longer needs the device. That does not always happen often, but it happened for her.

Daisy uses the 50-pound foot illustration to explain to people what it is like with Foot Drop. “Just imagine yourself with a 50-pound foot. How do you walk? You have to literally think before you take a step. With Foot Drop, you have to think first. The way you use your hip, the way you try to pick up your leg. You have to think of all these things and then when you land to make sure you don't fall. People have broken things just by falling.”

It was obtaining a walk-aid device that led Daisy to found the Freedom to Walk Foundation in 2013. “I'm a woman of faith and God told me to do it,” she said. “I was watching a video in the waiting room and a woman said you have to raise money to get the devices. I was like, why do we have to raise money? Doesn't the insurance company pay for this?”

Finding that the devices are not covered by insurance, she sensed a voice that suggested to start an organization to help people who need walk-aids. “I didn't want to do it, I don't mind helping, but I did not want to start an organization,” she admits, “but after I did research and found there is no non-profit like this in the United States – here we are!” 

Actually getting the job done took a lot of time and effort of course, but Daisy, who works in all sorts of community organizations, did what she felt led to do, founding the organization with the motto: “Changing Lives, One Foot At A Time.”

There are two devices that the foundation helps people to obtain. The devices and the brands can be found on the website. However, the cost of the devices is $5,000, which can be a difficult amount to raise.

The Freedom to Walk Foundation can give up to $1,000 toward purchasing a device, but Daisy also teaches them to do fundraising by reaching out to family and friends and asking them to reach out to their circle of friends and acquaintances. 

Donations may be made through the website. The majority of the donations come from small businesses and individuals, Daisy said. “I remember one person said to me, 'I'm only donating $25.' I said 'Only $25? Do you know what $25 is? Just think, every dollar is one step toward somebody walking. She was so happy.”

Donations to the foundation from Florida stay in Florida, Daisy assured. Resources may come in from other places in the country, because this is the only organization providing this help, and that money may go to help people out of state, but any Florida donations stay in the Sunshine State.

Freedom to Walk Foundation has helped people from the ages of 3 to 86. “I had a three year old, her name is Hazel,” Daisy said. “She was falling and scraping, poor thing, but once she put that walk-aid on she was playing and running. I have a video of her on our Facebook page of her actually running with the device and just a smile that says it all.”

The foundation also puts on events to help raise money and usually with the immediate goal of providing a device for a child. The next event is Juke Box Bingo in April 2022. It will be held at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club. The event is as it sounds – playing Bingo while listening to music from the 70s, 80s and 90s.  The prizes will be Michael Kors Designer Bags. “We're going to have like five or six of them,” Daisy said “People are very excited about that. Even men are excited saying, 'Oh I'll try to win a prize for my wife. She'll be happy!” Find the flyer on the foundation website under the heading “Juke Box Bingo.”

To learn more, visit the website at There you can see the devices, learn about Juke Box Bingo and view videos that will touch your heart. You can also hit the donate button. and take some steps of your own toward helping somebody walk and change lives one foot at a time.    (813) 546-2329

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