Dear Editor,I tend to forget sometimes how lucky I am to live here in the Roaring Fork Valley. I moved here in the late ’70s like so many others to ski. By the early ’80s I was set on a path to becoming a self-sustaining ski bum. Not the most lucrative of career choices, but I sure was enjoying powder days and good friends. I never would have enjoyed the success of sustaining this life style without the influence of several local professionals. I would like to acknowledge these people without embarrassing them, but they deserve recognition and respect of the highest order.In the early ’80s, Stefan Kaelin gave me an opportunity to try my hand at fabricating orthotics and custom-fitting ski boots in the basement of the Cooper Avenue store. I must have shown some aptitude for this skill as I was busy right from the start. I guess Aspen was in dire need of a good boot fitter. One day I got a call from Dr. Robert Oden of Orthopaedic Associates. At the time it was much like being called into the principal’s office, not knowing what I had done, I summoned the courage to respond. Turns out that Dr. Oden and the partners of the association wanted to talk to me about taking the orthotic concept a notch higher, into prescription and postinjury rehabilitation. Dr. Oden, the late Dr. Rodney Kirk and all the partners of the Orthopaedic Association encouraged me to go get educated at Ball State University, to become at the time, the Roaring Fork Valley’s first and only pedorthist. Without Dr. Oden’s encouragement I never would have survived the Aspen test years.Next in line for praise, admiration and accolades is Ernie Fyrwald, the former owner of Aspen Sports and Sport Stalker. It was Ernie who gave me a grand opportunity to expand the orthotic and bootfitting into a more year-round gig. Aspen Sports became the leader in sport shoe sales after Ozzies shoes shut its doors. Orthotics sales had expanded into the sport shoe market, tennis, golf, cycling, hiking and the like. Thotic Shops had found a comfortable business home in both Aspen and Snowmass under the banner of Aspen Sports. For this successful opportunity I could not be more grateful.All through the many years of caring for professional and recreational athletes’ feet, I have tried to bring a level of professionalism to honor the people whom have given me such opportunity and success. The Aspen Skiing Co. has been a huge supporter to this effort over the years, and many thanks go out to the management of the Ski Co.Last and by no means the least of my thanks must go out to the community of the Roaring Fork Valley, because it is ultimately you that has made the success of Thotic Shops. Without the tens of thousands of you satisfied orthotics customers out there, I would not have enjoyed such success.Jack RaffertySnowmass Village
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