When Kyler Nipper was 11, he was stabbed in the chest in the hallways of his Colorado middle school for wearing worn-out shoes. The 2016 attack landed him into hospital for life-saving surgery. Though he survived, Nipper continued to live with PTSD as a result. However, in the years since, Nipper has turned his trauma into a positive.
To cope with his PTSD, Nipper began to give away shoes to those in need shortly after the incident, birthing the idea for his non-profit, Kyler’s Kicks. The charity began to pick up steam after the family’s move to Las Vegas, with Nipper donating thousands of shoes to local schools, shelters, mental health organizations and other facilities.
To date, he has given away nearly 40,000 pairs with help from Zappos For Good, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, Salvation Army, among others. The late Tony Hsieh donated $15,000 on behalf of Zappos, for instance.
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Meanwhile, due to the extreme medical bills and mental health costs from the severe bullying, Nipper’s family was forced into homelessness in 2020. His story eventually caught the eye of famous Nevada local — David Copperfield — who saw the story on NBC’s Nightly News last January.
“Kyler turned something very negative into something very positive,” Copperfield told FN. “These are challenging times. I believe if we all did an act of kindness, no matter how small for someone we know or don’t know, the result would be miraculous.”
The legendary magician was so moved by Nipper’s generosity that he offered to rent the family a home for the year. They were able to finally meet in person this past December at Copperfield’s personal museum of magic for a private tour.
“Changing lives is what I’m supposed to do as a magician. It’s not about tricking people. It’s about showing limitless possibilities in the world. I try to give a different perspective. If I do my job right, I inspire people to do something for a better future,” added Copperfield. “My wife Chloe Gosselin is a shoe designer of note and halfway through this, I realized this is kind of connected. But really it was about the fact that Kyler replicated in reality what I try to do as a magician. When you see a story like Kyler’s it’s like, yeah, let’s be part of that.”
In addition to shoe drives, Nipper has expanded his organization to include Kyler’s Kicks Lounge in October of 2019, which serves as a free mental health lounge designed by teens for teens in Las Vegas. In November, Nipper, 15, was able to move into a larger space, now helping 200 teens compared to 20, offering art, garden, music, meditation and group therapy.
To donate to Kyler’s Kicks, click here.