The Pedorthic Foundation honored Dick Schwartz, CPed, chairman of the board of Aetrex Worldwide, Teaneck, New Jersey, and Ernesto Castro, CPed, during the North American Pedorthic Congress, held November 17-20 in Orlando, Florida. Schwartz received the Richard B. Schwartz Award, named in his honor, while Castro was presented with the Dawn Janisse Award.
Schwartz earned his pedorthics certification in the early 1970s, just after the Board for Certification in Pedorthics (BCP) was established. He combined his understanding of pedorthics with his knowledge of footwear manufacturing to shape the growth of Aetrex Worldwide. As president of Aetrex, Schwartz made a practice of hiring certified pedorthists to introduce Aetrex products to other pedorthists, podiatrists, leading foot surgeons, nurses, and diabetes educators. Under his leadership, Aetrex also founded Apex University, an educational arm devoted to teaching healthcare practitioners about footwear, shoe modifications, foot orthosis fabrication, techniques for measuring the foot, and methods of adjusting footwear so that wearers could move and perform more effectively and comfortably while wearing shoes and boots, whether the footwear was designed for dress, casual wear, or sports.
“Dick Schwartz has given our profession time, leadership, and support for nearly 40 years,” Foundation President Darlene Hall, CPed, said in presenting the award to Schwartz. “It seems only fitting that the Richard B. Schwartz Award will recognize and honor an individual or company for advancing the profession of pedorthics. It will focus on specific accomplishments which bring additional stature, respect, advancement, or honor to the practice of pedorthics. With his focus on achievement, Dick Schwartz exemplifies what this new award will recognize….”
Castro was selected for the Dawn Janisse Award in recognition of his work “leading to advances and improvements in care for the diabetic foot, and in particular by helping to significantly lower the number of amputations in the Native American community,” Dennis Janisse, CPed, said when presenting the award created in memory of his late wife.
At the age of 11, Castro began apprenticing with his father in a shoe repair shop in Ajo, Arizona. His desire to better understand the foot problems he saw in many of his fathers’ customers eventually led to a career in pedorthics. By 1992, Castro had earned his certification in pedorthics and established his own firm, called Custom Footwear. He holds two patents on the Arizona AFO. Castro is credited with reducing the rate of diabetes-related lower-limb amputations on the Gila River Indian Reservation, Arizona, by teaching Gila River residents about dealing with foot problems and proper footwear, and by convincing the hospital there to take advantage of Medicare’s Therapeutic Shoe Bill benefit to purchase protective footwear for high-risk patients. This work created documentation that prompted healthcare providers elsewhere to begin prescribing therapeutic footwear for high-risk diabetic patients.