Standing at 7 Feet, 8 and 1/3 inches, Igor Vovkovinskiy is the tallest man in the United States, and all he wants is a pair of shoes.
Hailing from Rochester, Minnesota this gentle giant has an estimated shoe size of approximately 26, making it completely impossible to find anything remotely close to his size at the mall.
In fact, settling for shoes at the mall that are too tiny is what has caused Vovkovinskiy the existing pain that he does have.
“Every time I’ve had surgery and the wound began to heal up, wearing these same shoes, or the previous shoes that I had, would just open the wound right back up,” Vovkovinskiy said.
However, to the delight of Igor, dreams do come true.
As of Thursday, the athletic shoe company Reebok had flown in the 7 foot 8 inch 29 year old man to have their own engineers custom design shoes specifically for him, providing nothing but comfort and relief to his distressed feet.
Reebok says it’s building the shoes at a cost of $12,000 to $20,000, none of which Igor will be responsible for.
“The most expensive pair to make is the first one, because we have to do trial and error to get the right shape, the right fit and the right feel,” said Ambrose Hayes, Reebok’s head of mens sports development. “This is a very technical process. Igor has had very specific medical issues.”
Vovkovinskiy explains to the engineers that he hasn’t been able to go on a walk for over 6 years because of his current shoe situation, explaining that with the lack of traction on his shoes that it would be “suicidal” given the snowy and wet conditions that are often present in Minnesota.
“I haven’t been able to go for a joyful walk for six years now — that’s something that I’ve missed and I know my dog has missed,” he said. “I look forward to just going for a walk with my dog, just walking around the neighborhood.”
Conducting multiple tests, Reebok hopes to have him a prototype pair in the next 6 weeks. Once Igor has a chance to try those out, Reebok will then make more adjustments at his request and hopefully return a perfect pair of shoes to the tallest man in the U.S. shortly after.
Originally believing that he needed to raise the money on his own, Vovkovinskiy has been able to raise over $40,000 in support.
However, after finding out that Reebok would be footing the bill, Igor has decided to set the money aside as a shoe fund for life, covering anything he might need for his size 26 feet.
“That means everything from boots in the winter to sandals and then, once I start applying for jobs, dress shoes,” he said. “I’m so overwhelmed by people’s generosity. I’m so thankful.”
Does you appreciate large companies like Reebok helping out Igor Vovkovinskiy as the tallest man in the U.S.?