Shelley Simmering, C.Ped. is an avid runner who believes positive mental outlook and physical benefits translate into life. They have for her and for one local high school student who worked with her non-profit, Feet in Need.
This freshman came from a disadvantaged home and became involved in the track program. With a 9-minute mile, he wasn’t terribly competitive, which Shelley discovered was due to serious pronation. At his coach’s request, Shelley worked with this runner pro bono, providing analysis and orthotics. By his senior year, he was down to a five-minute mile, was voted team MVP and received a scholarship to college. “Running was life-changing for him,” Shelley says.
It goes beyond the feet, though. That’s why Shelley started the Next Step Run Club to teach new runners proper form and winter training. By the time her winter runners ‘graduate’ in May, they’re able to do a 10K.
This year she’s adding a new feature, coaching 50 Club participants for a fall season half-marathon. As part of their participation in the group, runners must donate $100 to Fox Valley Food for Health, an organization that prepares and delivers organic meals to cancer patients. Every Tuesday afternoon, Shelley serves as a mentor chef with Food for Health, teaching teens cooking skills ranging from using a knife to finishing fish.
Shelley equates her community volunteer work with helping the public better understand the role of pedorthists. The effort to further the profession as specialists in foot orthotics is particularly important to Shelley because of her background as a runner. “It’s a complex process that goes beyond the stand. It speaks to biomechanics, the body and the mind,” she says.
Shelley brings this mindset to her volunteer work on ABC’s Applications Review Committee and the Pedorthic Exam Committee. The Exam Committee, in particular, is looking at whether the questions are appropriate for the education and training candidates receive.
For Shelley, pedorthics represents a combination of analytics and problem-solving grounded in education. But she also has a runner’s soul that serves as daily inspiration, whether in St. Charles, Illinois or across the continent in Africa. A few years ago, Shelley collected used running shoes in good condition and took 500 pairs to a high school in Africa. Along the way someone donated two tiny pairs of pink baby shoes, which Shelley brought thinking that there had to be some use for them. Sure enough, two little girls, abandoned by their sick parents, showed up. The shoes fit perfectly…a metaphor for life.