PFA Symposium Presents High-Quality Sessions

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By Miki Fairley

Fighting sultry heat, humidity, fierce wind and rain, dodging hostile vegetation and poisonous snakes, pulling dozens of bloodsucking leeches off arms and legs, rappelling down steep cliffs, climbing up mountainsides, crossing deep canyons hanging on to pulleysis this pure torture or an exhilarating adventure?

PFA's Symposium always features hands-on as well as lecture presentations. Above, a casting demonstration calls for audience volunteers. Photo by P.J. Williams
PFA's Symposium always features hands-on as well as lecture presentations. Above, a casting demonstration calls for audience volunteers. Photo by P.J. Williams

Actually both, with wisdom emerging from the experience, as the nearly 900 attendees learned during the Pedorthic Footwear Association (PFA) Annual Symposium & Exhibition November 11-14 in Orlando, Florida. Yvonne Camus, a member of Canadas Team Sunlight during the 2000 Eco-Challenge in Malaysian Borneo, an expedition race over rugged terrain, using mountaineering, biking, boating, navigation, and other wilderness skills, shared her experiences in her talk, "The Eco-Challenge: Lessons for Surviving Life and Business."

Each Eco-Challenge team includes three men and one woman. If a team loses a member due to injury, team disagreement, or other causes, the team is disqualified. Team Sunlight became the first rookie team to ever finish the race. Among the problems encountered were climbing in a cave with tons of bat guano, a poisonous vine that left a team member unconscious for eight hours, and various injuries.

Alan Darby, CPed, LPed, presents PFA's Vendor of the Year Award to Apex Foot Health Industries. Accepting it are Larry Schwartz, Apex president (center), and Dick Schwartz, Apex CEO (right). Darby's term as PFA president ended during the Symposium; he was succeeded by Mike Forgrave, CPed (c), CPed. Photo by P.J. Williams
Alan Darby, CPed, LPed, presents PFA's Vendor of the Year Award to Apex Foot Health Industries. Accepting it are Larry Schwartz, Apex president (center), and Dick Schwartz, Apex CEO (right). Darby's term as PFA president ended during the Symposium; he was succeeded by Mike Forgrave, CPed (c), CPed. Photo by P.J. Williams

What did Camus learn from Eco-Challenge? One of the most important lessons was working as a team, with members building one another up, rather than tearing one another down. She noted that a main reason teams failed to finish wasn't due to mistakes or lack of skills and knowledge, but rather to conflict among members. Lessons learned that also work in life and business include 1) Keep moving forward, even when you feel like quitting; 2) surround yourself with people who lift you up, rather than tear you down; 3) plan to be excellent, since we move toward, but not beyond, what we can imagine; 4) discover what works - concentrate on solutions, not problems; 5) pain is inevitable; suffering is optional; and 6) be hard on issues, but soft on people. Cheering people on, building them up even when they make mistakes, leads to a winning effort.

Camus also presented a special session on the unique foot and footwear problems encountered, since one of the biggest threats to the racers ability to continue was the incredible beating their feet were taking. With so much water, it was nearly impossible to get feet dry, resulting in shredding, blistering, and painful sores, Camus said.

Randy Stevens, CPed, receives the Pedorthic Footwear Foundation's second annual Dawn Janisse Award from Foundation President Harriet Cavanah Dart, CPed. The Dawn Janisse Award recognizes people who have made a difference on behalf of pedorthics; Stevens was honored for his mastery of government affairs issues that affect pedorthics. Photo by P.J. Williams
Randy Stevens, CPed, receives the Pedorthic Footwear Foundation's second annual Dawn Janisse Award from Foundation President Harriet Cavanah Dart, CPed. The Dawn Janisse Award recognizes people who have made a difference on behalf of pedorthics; Stevens was honored for his mastery of government affairs issues that affect pedorthics. Photo by P.J. Williams

Roger Crawford, who achieved tennis stardom despite impairment in all four limbs, received a standing ovation after his inspirational talk. "We determine if were mastered by circumstances, or if we are masters of circumstances," he said. He cited a little boy with a disability who had a great attitude. The youngster told him, "My grandpa says people are like teabags. Put them in hot water and what's inside comes out." Crawford encouraged listeners to ask themselves, "Where am I coming from? How long have I been there? Where am I going?" He asked the audience members to look at the future and see possibilities. He also praised the pedorthists for truly "making a difference" in the lives of patients.

Comments were heard about the high quality of the program, which was divided into four tracks which considered different aspects of pedorthics: "At Work" (occupational situations), "At Play" (recreational), "Clinical" (observational / analytical situations); and "Business." Sessions were detailed and full of practical, applicable information and included two bonus sessions and pre- and post-symposium presentations. A total of 110 exhibitors displayed products and services in over 150 booths.

This years Symposium is slated for October 20-23 in Indianapolis, Indiana.