Wake up with a Smile

Join our newsletter

Teen With Size 23 Feet Finally Gets Shoes That Fit Thanks To Mom’s Persistence.

Eric Kilburn Jr and his family with new shoe

Never underestimate a mother on a mission!

Rebecca Kilburn of Goodrich, Michigan has spent years searching for shoes to fit her son, Eric Kilburn, Jr. She and her husband, Eric Kilburn, Sr., are both well over 6 feet tall, and their two sons are following in their large-footed steps. By the time he was in 1st grade, Eric Jr. was already wearing a size 12 shoe!

Now 14, Eric Jr. is already 6 foot, 10 inches, and doctors say he’s still growing. Unlike other very tall people, Eric does not have an endocrine disorder. He’s just tall!

The teen has gotten used to people staring at him, and even jokes about carrying a card with answers to frequently-asked questions. For instance, no, he doesn’t play basketball, but yes, he does play football.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside to being able to reach everything on every top shelf ever. At a size 23, Eric’s feet are so large, it’s nearly impossible to find shoes that fit him. Rebecca has called every shoe manufacturer under the sun, and none would accommodate her son. Custom-made orthopedic shoes run upwards of $1,500 a pair, and with their big Velcro straps, they’re not exactly fashionable for the average teen.

With no winter boots or sneakers to wear, Eric has suffered from painful foot trouble that required medical intervention six times in the past few years. He even suffered a sports injury because he doesn’t have cleats to wear while playing football. The situation has caused a lot of tears and aggravation in the Kilburn household.

“I have spent hours crying feeling like I’ve failed my child because I’m not able to find what he needs,” Rebecca said.

Right now, the high school freshman is wearing a pair of size 22 Nikes that a family friend found at an outlet store. The shoes had been made for a professional basketball player who didn’t want them, so they ended up at the outlet.

Rebecca rushed to the store to buy all six pairs of the size 22s, and even those had to be professionally stretched to avoid the ingrown toenails and blisters that plague Eric Jr. But a few years later, none of those size 22s fit anymore, and Rebecca has had no luck finding any other shoes that come close to that size.

In desperation, Rebecca spoke with a reporter for a local publication. When the story was published, the Kilburns were flooded with sympathy and support from both near and far.

“It’s restored my faith in humanity,” said Rebecca.

A GoFundMe supporting Eric Jr.’s shoe search has now exceeded $23,000. National brands like Puma and Under Armour have offered to make custom shoes and cleats for the teen, and CAT Footwear intends to send him a pair of winter boots.

Recently, a representative from Under Armour visited the family and scanned Eric Jr’s feet, so it won’t be long before he’s able to spread those toes out and get the support and comfort he needs!

All of this help comes as a a tremendous relief to Rebecca, who also started a Facebook group to help others who struggle to find larger shoe sizes.

“I hit so many dead ends with people laughing when I called to ask about shoes,” she said. “It was a very lonely feeling. And now we’re overflowing with support, generosity and kindness.”

Now that his kicks finally fit, Eric Jr. can focus on the important things in life! He’s already planning to apply for the Guinness World Record for teen with largest feet. We think his chances are excellent.

Share this story of a mom working hard to make sure her son got what he needed.

Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.