Local author finds a sense of purpose in her tennis shoes
The first words out of the obstetrician’s mouth were: “This child will never walk.” Donna Rankin Love was born with a congenital birth defect, where both of her feet were bent upward at an awkward angle, her tiny toes arcing toward her shinbones. This was 1927, before the days of corrective surgery or orthopedic shoes.
Still, the young mother grazed her fingers over the tips of her baby girl’s skyward-pointing toes and met the doctor’s gaze with three prophetic words: “You wanna bet?”
With nothing more than faith and determination, the mother went home and began the loving ritual of massaging her baby’s feet down. By 15 months, the child had taken her first steps. A lifetime later, the woman who had supposedly been born a cripple would celebrate her 59th birthday by walking more than 3,700 miles from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. on the 1986 Great Peace March for global nuclear disarmament. The following year, she would walk and bus from Leningrad to Moscow on the Soviet-American Peace Walk. Then, in 1988, she would traverse the U.S. once again in the American-Soviet Peace Walk from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco.