Marleen Verbeek: Hard decisions yield freedom

Most 13-year-olds are reveling in their “official” status as a teenager, having just graduated from the awkward tween age. On Marleen Verbeek’s 13th birthday, she was diagnosed with meningitis, which wreaked havoc on her young body and caused her to spend more than 8 months in the hospital.   

“More than 35 percent of my body had scars, and parts of both feet had to be amputated,” Marleen explained. “I had more than 35 surgeries including skin grafts and operations to improve my feet.” 

In 2016, ongoing pain from her partially amputated left foot led her to completely amputate her foot, and she became a below the knee amputee.  

“It is the best decision I ever made,” Marleen said. “It took time, but now I can snowboard, run and dance, and I live my day-to-day life with almost no pain.”  

Marleen is also fulfilling her dreams to be a model and actress, sporting Fillauer’s running blade in some of her ads. She describes the blade as comfortable with a good return of energy, and convenient since you don’t have to wear a shoe with it. 

Marleen models wearing Fillauer running blade

Marleen hopes to also be a role model for others. Through her own YouTube channel, Marleen is finding healing about her body image, and encourages other meningitis survivors to overcome their own fears. She also just started running with her blade.  

“It makes me feel like I’m flying,” she said, “I couldn’t run for 25 years, so that feeling was amazing, it made me feel free. If I can run with only half a foot, I can do anything!”  


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