OCC Embraces Shoe to Raise Awareness of Rare Disease

OCC adjunct faculty member Phillip Fortier teaches philosophy and religious studies but his big passion is math – particularly keeping score of the number of judges, doctors and athletes who have posed for photographs with a very special shoe.

Athletic Director Laurie Huber, Brandon Wright and Ariyana Jordan, pose with “The Shoe,” which raises awareness for Multiple System Atrophy.

Athletic Director Laurie Huber, Brandon Wright and Ariyana Jordan, pose with “The Shoe,” which raises awareness for Multiple System Atrophy.

“Sixty-one judges, some state Supreme Court Justices, 26 U-M doctors, 12 musicians, the Pistons and now the Tigers are posing with the shoe,” said Fortier, referring to what is affectionately referred to as “The Shoe or “Tim’s Shoe.”

The traveling shoe effort began as a prank involving two Georgia brothers. In 2010, the prank morphed into an effort to raise awareness of Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), the disease that claimed Fortier’s brother in 2013 at the age of 56.

In late 2009, Joe Fortier was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease that impairs the body’s involuntary functions, including blood pressure, heart rate, bladder function and digestion.

"Tim's Shoe" is a Nike size 11 men's athletic shoe that travels the country to raise awareness of MSA.

“Tim’s Shoe” is a Nike size 11 men’s athletic shoe that travels the country to raise awareness of MSA.

Phillip Fortier, who created the Joseph G. Fortier Foundation to advance medical research, has been a supporter of the “Tim’s Shoe” initiative and a key player in bringing the shoe to OCC.

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Southfield and Royal Oak Campus President Steven Reif poses with “The Shoe,” which raises awareness for MSA.

“The goal is for the shoe to create awareness about this disease,” Fortier says. “This year, the Governor and the State Legislature declared March as MSA Month in official proclamations. We are hoping to get as many people as possible to pose with The Shoe – and thereby raise awareness of this awful disease. With increased awareness, comes more attention and hopefully a cure someday!”

“The Shoe” is visiting OCC this week. The Nike size 11 athletic shoe has been collecting accolades and mementos as it travels around the country. See photos of the shoe’s travails here.

For information, contact DefeatMSA@gmail.com.

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