11th annual Ponseti Races grows with addition of 9 Line Mile


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On a crisp October morning, more than 100 people of all ages gathered to walk the inaugural “9 Line Mile” in memory of an Iowa City teen whose life was cut short in a moped accident in 2011.

The life of Caroline Found, whom friends and family referred to as “Line,” was celebrated as walkers stretched past West High, where she attended, following her father, Ernie Found, on a pilgrimage to the University of Iowa Sports Medicine Center.

Found died Aug. 11, 2011, after crashing into a tree while driving her moped without a helmet around a curve on Mormon Trek Boulevard. At the age of 17, she was entering her senior year.

The “9 Line Mile,” named in honor of Found’s West High volleyball jersey, was officially added to the Ponseti Races this year and stands on its own alongside the three others.

In addition to the 1.5-mile loop, the Ponseti races also feature a 5K and 10K race, which were added in 2009 and 2011.

To many, the leisurely walk served as a time to chat with friends and family and enjoy the fall weather.

Paul Breitbach, Found’s high-school counselor and creator of the 9 Line Mile, said the event was the perfect memorial.

“… [The 9 Line Mile] is very Line,” he said. “She was very much about relationships and people. She was so energetic and friendly. She exuded enthusiasm. She exuded life.”

Since her passing, the greater Iowa City area has chosen to preserve her memory through a number of ways, from a push for moped safety in the Iowa Legislature to the “Live Like Line” credo that has been branded on a downtown Iowa City bench and throughout the halls of West.

In addition to walking or running for a cause, the UI dance group Diamond Cut and a cappella group Take Note also performed.

The Ponseti Races — a charitable fundraiser for clubfoot research, comes from humble beginnings.
The event is named for Ignacio Ponseti, a former UI professor emeritus known worldwide for his discovery of the groundbreaking technique for treating the common birth defect clubfoot, which can render a child immobile.

It began with Ponseti greeting children with clubfoot at the end of a gymnasium floor in 2002.

He died in October 2009 at the age of 95.

The connection between student and physician comes in Found’s father and his longtime friendship with Ponseti.

Ponseti started the Ponseti Races, event coordinator Linda O’Connor said, as a way for his patients to show off their newfound ability to run.

To date, the Ponseti Method of slowly stretching and realigning bones and ligaments has helped more than 10,000 children walk and run, O’Connor said.

Ernie Found, a UI associate professor of orthopedic surgery, hopes that his daughter’s name will encourage further charity from the community.

The goal of the 9 Line Mile, Found said, is to “rally the community behind a good cause” and to have a race that “everyone can be a part of, even if they’re not athletes.”

It certainly seems to have worked.

Author Paul Etre said this year marks the largest Ponseti Races to date.

“More than 600 racers registered this year, more than ever before, and there were over 100 racers registered for the 9 Line Mile alone,” he said.

With a set fundraising goal of $25,000 — greater than any previous year — Etre said, race officials anticipate that goal will be exceeded.

“It meant a lot to see everyone from Iowa City come together to honor Caroline’s life, and even friends from out of state coming back just for a day or two to remember her,” said Leah Murray, a childhood friend of Caroline.

Following a jubilant percussion ensemble that greeted racers crossing the finish line, Found said, looking back, he believes Ponseti would be proud of what the races have become.

“He would be glorified,” Found said, noting that he believes Ponseti would still be waiting at the end of the children’s race with his arms outstretched.

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