Reebok is fitting the tallest man in the United States of America with custom-made shoes. Igor Vovkovinskiy hopes he would be able to live a more normal life with his new custom-made Reebok shoes.
Vovkovinskiy, 7 feet 8 and one-third inches tall, says that because of the unusual size and shape of his feet, he has been unable to find shoes that fit in stores.
He has had 16 surgeries in six years to fix problems he has suffered from wearing shoes that don't fit. Unable to find proper-fitting shoes in stores, he started a fund-raising website and a Facebook page asking people to help him pay for a pair of new custom-made shoes. MSNBC reports he managed to raise $37,000. But on Friday, Reebok stepped in and flew him out to its headquarters in Canton Massachusetts to fit him shoes.
Daily Mail reports that his shoe size is between 22 and 26. According to Vovkovinskiy, his only shoes have no traction, making it dangerous for him to leave his home. He said: "I haven't been able to go for a joyful walk for six years now. I look forward to just going for a walk with my dog, just walking around the neighborhood."
Daily Mail reports Vovkovinskiy traveled to Reebok headquarters in Canton on Thursday for custom shoe-fitting that involved the use of custom-pressure mounting equipment, bio-foam, devices for taking precise measurements of length, a tape measure and a team of technicians.
Reebok is producing a shoe for him at a cost estimated at between $12,000 and $20,000. The company says they are producing the shoes for him free of charge.
Boston Herald reports that for several years, Vovkovinskiy has worn orthotic shoes lacking arch supports and grips. The shoes are designed only for use while recovering from surgery. He said:“It’s like walking on a piece of wood. It’s very uncomfortable.”
Measurements that have to be taken include length, width and distance from his soles to the top of his feet, Daily Mail reports. According to Boston Herald, Reebok flew in pressure-sensing gear from Germany. Vovkovinskiy had a video chat with biomechanics expert Tom McPoil of Regis University.
Reebok technicians say fitting Vovkovinskiy with shoes is particularly tricky because of the unusual shape of his feet and toes after several surgeries.
Boston Herald reports that Ambrose Hayes, Reebok's head of men's sports development, said: “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. This is a very technical process. Igor has had very specific medical issues.”
The company says it will take them up to six weeks to create prototypes for Vovkovinskiy to try out. After he tries them out then they will fine-tune them to produce proper fitting shoes for him.
Vovkovinskiy suffers a condition known as pituitary gigantism. The 29-year-old man moved from Ukraine at the age of seven with his mother for treatment of his condition. At the age of seven, he was already six feet tall.
The series of surgeries he underwent in the last six years forced him to spend three years on bed rest. He says during that time his muscles weakened and he gained body weight.
Vovkovinskiy said having new pair of fitting shoes will change the quality of his life. He said: "Basically, I'm a prisoner of my own house, even though I am medically cleared to walk. Where am I going to go with shoes that are painful?"