Google thinks local non-profit has a million dollar idea

Thursday, April 21, 2016
Carrboro non-profit, miraclefeet, receives million dollar grant from Google.
Carrboro non-profit, miraclefeet, receives million dollar grant from Google.

CARRBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld is very passionate about treating every child born with clubfoot - every child in the world. At the cost of $250 per child, she says she thinks that goal could be a reality. Tech giant Google seems to agree because the company just awarded her non-profit, miraclefeet, a $1 million grant this month.

Clubfoot is a condition where a person is born with inwardly turned feet, according to the National Institute of Health. Colloredo-Mansfeld said the condition can be debilitating for children in underdeveloped countries.

Check out the basic idea behind miraclefeet in this video:

"If you can't walk in most developing countries, you can't get to school, so that means you grow up illiterate, which makes it that much harder to get a decent job and earn a reasonable living," Colloredo-Mansfeld said.

She said the condition is also stigmatized and that "makes them often at risk of neglect, potentially physical and sexual abuse because they tend to be left alone a lot."

Watch a mother talk about her son with clubfoot:

Stanford University and miraclefeet have developed a $20 brace that can help solve the problem when used after non-surgical treatment to set the foot through the use of plaster casts for 1 to 3 months, called the Ponseti Method.

miraclefeet brace

Colloredo-Mansfeld is a Carrboro mother of three, UNC Morehead Scholar, Stanford MBA and former Goldman Sachs employee, and she said she feels her combined life experiences have led her towards this project after meeting Dr. Ponseti while working at the University of Iowa.

miraclefeet's Executive Director, Chesca Colloredo-Mansfield

"Dr. Ponseti figured out how to treat clubfoot, but still 80 percent of kids born with clubfoot didn't have access to treatment and more living, unable to walk properly, and I naively thought 'gosh, this is something I think I can tackle'," Colloredo-Mansfeld said.

"I've worked in investment banking, I've worked in the refugee camps in Pakistan, I've worked for the Boston Consulting Group, management consulting firms, but I've also worked in academia, she said. "I've had a career that's really pretty diverse and eclectic, but throughout my career I've always felt that I needed to do something that was going to have a long-term impact and that was really giving back."

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Before and after photos of children treated for clubfoot by miraclefeet

Now, Google has allocated $20 million in grants to aid in fighting disabilities through their charitable organization - miraclefeet is one of those grant recipients.

The non-profit is hoping to use the Google grant to improve their data collection through the use of sensors so they use their resources to treat even more children and better their communications with families of children receiving treatment through SMS text messaging. They also want to develop a curriculum and launch a virtual training platform to get more healthcare professionals involved.

"Our plan now is actually we believe that we can eradicate untreated clubfoot globally, with lots of different organizations, but leveraging some of the technology that Google is helping develop," Colloredo-Mansfeld said.

Read more about miraclefeet here.

Read more about Google's Impact Challenge to treat disabilities here.

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