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Raising Awareness for a Rare Disease Through the Simplicity of a Shoe

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Not everyone is happy to get an old pair of sneakers, especially when it’s just one, but for Paola Vermeer of Sioux Falls, a single shoe is just what she was looking for.

"Tim's shoe is a tool used to raise awareness for the disease my mom died of, Multiple Systems Atrophy or MSA,” says Vermeer.

You see Tim's shoe has been passed down from around the world and decorated by the people it's touched.  It started out as a joke on Facebook, a friend of Tim's stole his shoe and posted it online, but when a lady by the name of Gretchen saw the story, it took off running.  Gretchen's mom had MSA and the story about the shoe allowed her mom to do something she hadn't been physically able to do for quite some time, smile.  Now the shoe is making others affected by the rare disease smile in Sioux Falls, and is now in the hands of Paola.
"I picked up the shoe from the fed ex office and it weighed like 20 pounds, I had no idea all this stuff came with it I was expecting a shoe,” explains Vermeer.

Tim's shoe has quite the history with the first journal entry from March of 2010, and it has been all over the world from the United States to Canada and Belgium.

Decorated with mementos and pictures, to even an oxygen cord from a loved one, its journey is a very personal one.

"I may not understand or know the significance behind it, but it means something to somebody,” comments Vermeer.

Through the shoe, Paola hopes to raise awareness about the disease as well as money to fund research.  

“You look at all these journals and I haven't had time to read all of them, but it is incredible how MSA has impacted lives of people and then empowered them to do this,” says Vermeer.

Angela Schilling
Sioux Falls
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