International Red Shoe Day, celebrated every July 25, was founded in memory of Australian Lyme disease patient Theda Myint, who passed away from the disease in 2013. The day was established in 2014 by Myint’s friends as a way to pay tribute to her, as well as to others worldwide who have lost their battles with Lyme or similar illnesses., The ‘red shoe’ was chosen as the symbol for the day because of Myint’s fondness for red shoes and how they are an integral part of her identity and fight.
History of International Red Shoe Day
Karen Smith and Lisa Hilton — both founders of the Global Lyme & Invisible Illness Organization — came up with the idea for International Red Shoe Day in 2014. It was made in honor of their friend Theda Myint, who died of Lyme disease on July 25, 2013, thus the date. Myint’s disease grew gradually after she was bitten by ticks in Australia, and was exacerbated by a bout of flu she caught while traveling in Europe in 2000.
Her symptoms were relatively unseen by others, but she complained of constant headaches for nine years and became more sensitive to light and certain sounds. She would later also suffer bouts of extreme exhaustion, cognitive dysfunction, and a general pain constantly radiating in her body. Despite this, she tried her best to live a normal life and actively spent time with her loved ones.
She was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2011 and spent the remainder of her life advocating for the disease and researching treatment options until she died in 2013.
The day is observed with social gatherings and awareness programs in which people wear red shoes to mourn and celebrate the lives of their loved ones who have died. Myint was known for her love of red shoes, which is why the red shoe became the symbol of the day.
Lyme disease is one of several ‘invisible’ illnesses because individuals do not show clear indicators of illness even after being diagnosed. Because of the severity of their condition, they are likely to be confined to their beds and houses for lengthy periods, virtually rendering them ‘invisible’ to the rest of the world. As a result, determining the precise number of Lyme disease patients is challenging. As of 2019, the Lyme Conditions Association of Australia estimates approximately 2,000 Australians have the disease.
Thus, International Red Shoe Day is a day to not only commemorate Theda Myint’s brave journey but to also spread awareness and remember those who have lost their lives to Lyme or similarly invisible illnesses globally.
International Red Shoe Day timeline
Scottish historian John Walker records Lyme disease symptoms for the first time after observing patients suffering complications from deer tick bites.
Lyme disease is first identified in the American towns of Lyme and Old Lyme in Connecticut.
Theda Myint is officially diagnosed with Lyme disease, following a decade of symptoms.
Theda Myint loses her fight with Lyme disease at the age of 37 in Perth, Australia.
Karen Smith and Lisa Hilton start International Red Shoe Day on behalf of their fallen friend.
International Red Shoe Day FAQs
What do red shoes symbolize?
The color red is associated with fervor and exuberance. Wearing red shoes is supposed to represent the power of one’s enthusiasm for everything from love to adventure to other flaming emotions. While the red shoe represents Theda Myint’s favorite pair of shoes, it can also represent the wearer’s commitment to raising Lyme disease awareness. Only with passion can such messages achieve their full potential.
A tick bit me. Is Lyme disease something I have?
The likelihood of contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite is determined by the type of tick, the location where it bit you, and the length of time it was attached to you. Before ticks may transmit Lyme disease to you, they must be connected to you for at least 24 hours. If you experience symptoms as a result of the bite, see a doctor straight away to get the matter taken care of as soon as possible.
I heard that if I get Lyme disease, I'll have it for life. Is that true?
Not exactly. If treated with antibiotics early, the initial symptoms can disappear and the patient can make a full recovery. The timing of these treatments is crucial as doing so in later stages can result in longer treatment periods. Over time, however, the symptoms can generally improve on their own depending on how effective the antibiotics are and how responsive one is to them.
How to Observe International Red Shoe Day
Put on your red shoes!
Don your best pair of red shoes in the spirit of the day. Make sure to take pictures of yourself wearing your reds on your social media pages to make people aware of the holiday!
Hold events to commemorate the victims
Hold an awareness event in honor of someone you know who is suffering from Lyme disease or has died from it. The goal of International Red Shoe Day is to honor and remember people who are currently facing or have previously battled Lyme disease and comparable ailments. It also demonstrates how important these people are in your life.
Show your support for Lyme disease organizations
Supporting Lyme disease groups is one way to express your support for International Red Shoe Day. Donate to groups like Australia's Global Lyme & Invisible Illness Organization and the Lyme Disease Association of Australia, or distribute information from them. The National Fibromyalgia Association in the United States, as well as many others throughout the world, are international organizations that you can support.
5 Facts About Lyme Disease
Lyme is caused by ticks
Bites from black-legged ticks are the primary cause of Lyme disease.
The symptoms are generally felt early
Lyme disease symptoms generally take place one week to 21 days after the initial tick bite.
Antibiotics are key in treating lyme
Most cases of Lyme disease can be successfully treated using antibiotics, with symptoms fading generally within two to four weeks.
Lyme prevention starts at home
The best way to reduce the chances of Lyme disease is to keep your household or gardens clean, tidy, and free of ticks.
Lyme is not contagious
Lyme disease cannot be caught from other humans, only from tick bites.
Why International Red Shoe Day is Important
It pays tribute to Lyme sufferers worldwide
International Red Shoe Day honors everyone who is or has been affected by Lyme disease. To go through such an event requires a tremendous deal of courage, resilience, and patience, and on this day, we honor their efforts.
It honors the fight of a brave patient
The day also serves as a commemoration of Theda Myint's life. She has made a difference by fighting for better awareness of Lyme disease and kindred ailments as the founder of International Red Shoe Day. We can help her cause reach a wider audience by wearing red sneakers.
It can help increase awareness of Lyme
By choosing to don your red shoes on this day, you are part of a global awareness reach that helps advocate Lyme disease. International Red Shoe Day could be an opportunity for many to learn more about Lyme and other debilitating diseases and can help increase awareness of the importance of further research and treatment developments in the future.
International Red Shoe Day dates