The Story Behind the Athlete
I remember very little of the surgeries and recovery, but I understand it’s impact on me now. It is never easy, and I continue to see physiotherapists for pain management and strengthening.
As a competitive speed skating athlete, some days I feel sorry for myself because I must work harder to compete at the same level as others in my sport. I am diligent and committed in my rigorous trainingto be able to do what I do; you will find me constantly doing stretches and heel lifts (if you know, you know). In the end, everyone has challenges to overcome; everyone struggles, mine are just different than most.
This year will be my second in the Oval Elite Pathway Program at the Olympic Oval in Calgary and I have begun to train and qualify for higher-level competitions. In the 21/22 season, I was awarded top female short track skater in Alberta for my achievements and overall ranking in Canada. I entered the Canada Cup Junior Final, ranked first but in the end placed third overall and first in the 1500m.
The 22/23 season started in Utah, where I competed in the Dessert Classic, placing third overall and first in the 1000m. I also recently made my debut on the Junior Provincial team at the A3 level in the short track and B2 in the long track. In Quebec, Jan 2023, I earned a Gold medal for 1500 m and a Silver for the 3000 m at the Canadian Junior Championships. During this competition, I qualified to skate as a National team member! I am so proud and thankful that I am going to be competing in the World Junior Championship Long Track in Germany and then at the Canada Winter Games.
I am currently sponsored by Save-on Foods and Canadian Tire.
I am also an accomplished rollerskating athlete featured in local and national commercials and a team member of the Canadian Team that was supposed to be 2020 Junior Roller Derby World Cup in the USA(cancelled due to covid).
I love to move and go fast, but most of all I love to prove those, who doubt me, wrong!
A Mom’s Story
Finding out I was pregnant in June 2005 was one of the most exciting, terrifying, and anxious days of my life. Early in my pregnancy, some irregularities lead to a scan at 16 weeks. The scan took place at a smaller ‘rural’ hospital. Following the procedure, I was told “something was different about the baby’s feet,” but they needed a doctor to review and confirm. The weeks that followed were filled with uncertainty, tests, and multiple doctors’ appointments. At 18 weeks, baby Beeson was officially given a pre-term diagnosis of Bilateral Talipes.
Skip ahead to November 2005, my husband and I were referred by the BC Woman’s Hospital to Dr. Shafique Pirani. On our first visit to Dr. Pirani’s clinic, I looked around and took note of the different phases of the journey we were about to experience. In that first appointment, Dr. Pirani set us at ease and brought hope and light to a very scary unknown. We looked to the future and created a treatment plan, while also understanding the scan could have been wrong; “It could be one foot or two, or it could be none.” This was compounded by the fact that neither my husband or I had a family history of clubfoot, and there is no genetic marker Bilateral Talipes.
On March 21, 2006, Darby Iris Beeson entered the world, via c-section, at 17:17 and weighing in at a whopping 10lbs 4oz. Almost immediately, the attending physician gave the diagnosis of bilateral clubfoot and one week after birth, we had our first post-delivery appointment with Dr. Pirani. In this appointment, the diagnosis was changed to a unilateral right clubfoot; the doctor explained the left foot was “bad packaging” and would be fixed in a few months, requiring stretches every time we changed her diaper. They also put Darby’s tiny little leg into a cast and we would drive to Royal Columbian from Abbotsford every week for the next six weeks to have her foot manipulated and recast. At eight weeks old, Darby had a tenotomy and her leg was cast for three final weeks before bracing started.
We began our brace journey with the Markell boots until ordering the Mitchell-Ponseti boots. Darby was an active baby, she crawled at five and a half months and stood (in brace) at about seven months. I found the Markell boots created pressure points that irritated her skin; the Mitchell-Ponseti boots had more padding and straps for easier adjustments. For an hour each day, we would spend time out of brace at a local pool kicking and playing in the water. This had been a suggestion from another parent in Dr. Pirani’s waiting room, this activity turned out to be one of Darby’s favourite exercises and worked well in our overall treatment plan.
Shortly after Darby’s second birthday, we made the move from BC to Alberta and changed to a doctor in our area to oversee her treatment and observe foot growth and correction. At 3.5 years old we saw a doctor, not trained in the Ponseti method, who advised us to discontinue the use of the brace – IT WAS CURED! Over the next year, Darby played hockey and learned to roller skate; even at such a young age she was a talented skater.
In December 2010, I noticed that my once stable on her feet kid had begun to trip and fall on stairs and ice skating soon became too difficult even to attempt. Soon Darby was being unable to stay on the ice anymore and unable to run without falling; tasks that had once been so easy to my girl were replaced with a lot of stumbles and tear-filled hugs. We made the decision as a family to head back to Dr. Pirani in Vancouver, who confirmed Darby’s foot had begun to relapse and would require surgery. In May 2011, Dr. Pirani performed a right Tibialis Tendon Transfer with an Achilles lengthening. After a successful surgery, Darby spent the next year navigating life in wheelchairs, held upright by a walker and weekly physio appointments.
In her final post surgery treatment apparatus, the AFO, Darby began roller-skating again. Physiotherapy was the most crucial part of her recovery; excuses were not allowed, and exercises were completed EVERY night. It would be years before she found ice again but roller-skates allowed her legs to regain strength and stability with the oversight and support of our physiotherapist.
In 2015, she was already making news, check out this article in Airdrie Today.