The International Clubfoot Symposium was held in Barcelona, the city where Dr Ponseti studied medicine, and as a celebration of 100 years since his birth in Menorca (3 June 1914).
When I first met Dr Ponseti in 2003, I asked him if he was Spanish, and he quickly corrected me with a smile, ‘No, I am Catalan!’ Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia, Spain. Founded as a Roman town, it is a beautiful city, with a rich and unique culture of art, architecture, design, music, and cuisine. Dr Ponseti loved to have animated conversations about his love of art, music and dancing, and recommended events or exhibitions that were on in Iowa when we visited.
At the welcome function, hosted by the school of medicine where Dr Ponseti studied almost 80 years ago, I could imagine him striding down the passageways as I remembered him: in his white coat, tall and lean, with a smile on his face, eyes twinkling with gentle humour. We all gathered in a beautiful courtyard, enjoying tapas and local cava. I talked to people from many countries, all with a love for children born with clubfoot, and sharing the same goal: to eradicate clubfoot as a disability. The historical significance of where we were, and why, made it an emotional moment that I will treasure.
It was so good to meet up with friends and mentors, make new friends, share memories of Dr Ponseti, talk to inspiring parents, listen to talks about experiences from so many countries, and brainstorm ideas to help children born with clubfoot. On 3 June we had a celebration dinner for Dr Ponseti’s 100th birthday. There were moving speeches by Dr Ponseti’s nephew and old friends. The official proclamation of 3 June as World Clubfoot Day was read out and we had a good party that I think Dr Ponseti would have enjoyed too.
The next day I had to fly back home, so I missed the last event, a reception held by the Mayor of Barcelona at City Hall. Dr Jose Morcuende, head of the Ponseti International Association, who worked with Dr Ponseti for many years, presented a sculpture of Dr Ponseti’s hands casting feet. The sculpture will be sent to Menorca to be on exhibition there permanently to commemorate Dr Ponseti’s contribution to children born with clubfoot.
I really missed Dr Ponseti’s presence, but I think he would have been very proud to see how many people loved him, and are dedicated to following in his footsteps, and continuing his legacy.