Newswise — LAS VEGAS (March 9, 2023)—The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) presented its 2023 Humanitarian Award to Mark S. Myerson MD, FAAOS, of Denver, Colo. 

The Humanitarian Award honors members of the AAOS who have distinguished themselves through outstanding musculoskeletal-related humanitarian activities in the U.S. or abroad. Dr. Myerson was recognized for his work providing foot and ankle care to underserved communities around the world. 

“I have always believed that humanitarian service is not an option, but our obligation,” Dr. Myerson said. “Receiving the AAOS Humanitarian Award far surpasses my professional and academic achievements, and I am incredibly proud and honored to represent our orthopaedic community in these continuing endeavors.”

In 2000, Dr. Myerson founded Steps2Walk, an international volunteer organization which provides both surgical care and education about foot and ankle deformities to underserved regions worldwide. The organization began as a fundraising effort to bring international surgeons to the U.S. for continued education before expanding to host educational and surgical programs worldwide. 

Steps2Walk programs are hosted in regions that are identified based on critical need for treatment of foot and ankle deformities. The organization’s volunteer faculty comprises more than 250 international foot and ankle specialists who attend annual programs around the globe to share education with local orthopaedic surgeons and treat complex cases. 

During these multi-day programs, visiting surgeons provide surgical care to patients with complex deformities and give lectures and hands-on educational sessions to local orthopaedic surgeons and residents. Visiting surgeons work with local surgeons to develop surgical plans for the complex cases they treat while on-site.

“In the western world, we are blessed by opportunity, whether it applies to education or access to timely, affordable and skilled healthcare,” Dr. Myerson said. “For many years, Steps2Walk has maintained a dual commitment — to perform life-changing foot and ankle surgeries on individuals in underserved communities around the world and, simultaneously, to educate surgeons in those regions.”

This year, Steps2Walk will hold programs in Pakistan, Mexico and Namibia, among 14 other locations. To date, the organization has performed more than 1,400 surgical operations, trained more than 500 orthopaedic surgeons, and hosted programs in more than 24 countries. Despite the complexity of the cases the group treats, all the care provided is free to patients.  

As well as being the founder, Dr. Myerson serves as president of Steps2Walk and personally participates in many of the missions, serving in both roles in a volunteer capacity. He served as medical director of the organization from 2000-2016 while still in clinical practice. In 2016, he left his high-volume clinical practice to focus full-time on Steps2Walk. 

“Together, Dr. Myerson and Steps2Walk have created opportunities for hundreds of orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists across the globe to work in a humanitarian capacity,” said Kenneth J. Hunt, MD, FAAOS, associate professor and director of foot and ankle orthopaedics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Participating in a Steps2Walk program is a life-changing experience, a unique pilot light of passion for more volunteer efforts. Mark has never sought remuneration or fame for this program but has worked tirelessly to run the program, fundraise and restore mobility to many.”

In addition to his humanitarian accomplishments, Dr. Myerson has also had a robust academic and professional career. He is an internationally recognized leader in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery who has contributed to more than 300 peer-reviewed publications and has authored six textbooks. He is frequently invited to international forums to present on an array of foot and ankle topics. He is a past president of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society and was medical director of the Foot and Ankle Institute at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., prior to his full-time work with Steps2Walk. Dr. Myerson continues to serve as a visiting professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.  

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About the AAOS
With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level to best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related musculoskeletal healthcare issues; and it leads the healthcare discussion on advancing quality.

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