Being tall isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be as Igor Vovkivinskiy can attest to. The 7-foot, 8.33-inch man is the tallest man in the United States and considered by many to be a giant of a man in more ways than one.
Vovkivinskiy is a man with a big heart both metaphorically and physically. His actual heart is double the size of the average man’s heart. In spite of his kindheartedness, he has been struggling to find adequate footwear his whole life.
He suffers from constant pain because of deformities in his feet which are the result of the 16 surgeries he’s been forced to have over the last five years. Since his teens, he has been unable to find shoes in a store that fit him. It has been so long since he could buy shoes that he isn’t even sure of the size.
Currently, the only pair of shoes he owns is a pair of clogs which provide no traction, no support and no protection from the elements in Rochester, Minnesota where he has lived since age 6. The shoes cause pain to his feet, legs and back.
So Vovkivinskiy devised a plan to come up with the money to pay for custom-made shoes. He created a Facebook page and a website for fundraising and began asking for donations to cover the cost of the shoes. People have delivered an outpouring of compassion and cash. Vovkivinskiy has raised over $37,000 to cover the cost of his shoes.
Reebok, the athletic apparel manufacturer has offered to fly Vovkivinskiy to its offices in Canton, Mass in order to custom make a pair of shoes for him.
Vovkivinskiy already had a good idea of what it would cost to finance specially made shoes. Prior to launching his website, he did a little investigative work. He contacted a number of shoe manufacturers asking for assistance in his quest to get shoes. Reebok was the only company that responded. They said his feet would need to be scanned so they could make a 3D model. Then they would be able to make him properly fitted shoes with a $15,000 price tag.
Armed with that information, he set a goal of $16,000 to cover the shoes and the business class airfare necessary to get him to Massachusetts from Minnesota. Business class is required because he won’t fit in the coach seats.
Three weeks later, Vovkivinskiy had $37,000 with which to solve his footwear problem. Then, the unimaginable happened. Reebok contacted him, saying they wanted to make his shoes at no cost to him.
For the six-year-old boy who moved here from the Ukraine with his mother in 1989, this is quite the surprise. Hoping doctors at the renowned Mayo Clinic could help her son, who at six already stood over her at six feet tall, his mother moved the family. A tumor on his pituitary gland was flooding his body with growth hormones. Sadly, the tumor was too deeply imbedded to be removed and Vovkivinskiy just kept growing.
He couldn’t be happier with the circumstances, though he isn’t sure what to do with all the donated money now that Reebok has agreed to give him the shoes for free. Given that everything he uses needs to be specially made or reinforced and that most things wear out, he’ll probably just save it for replacement shoes.