14-year-old Eric Kilburn, Jr. is making waves on the internet again this week. The last time we saw the size 22 shoe wearer, he was featured in Hometown Life, where they published an article about his struggle to find sneakers in his size. The story generated a considerable amount of support for the teenager both online and on social media.
A GoFundMe campaign has collected more than $18,000 to help him purchase sports equipment and footwear for the future. Additionally, well-known brands such as Under Armour and Puma offered to create custom shoes and cleats for him, while CAT Footwear volunteered to send him boots.
The news of the Michigan native’s story has been spread far and wide — so far that Shaquille O’Neal heard. The Hall of Famer called the Kiburn family to ask if he could help by donating new Reebok shoes left over from his tests for the mega footwear brand.
When Michigan teen Eric Kilburn Jr. needed custom-made, size-22 shoes, multiple companies stepped up.
Then @SHAQ called.
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) April 2, 2023
Shaq has been involved in various charitable endeavors throughout his career as a professional basketball player and beyond. One of his notable philanthropic initiatives is the “Shaq-A-Claus” program, which he started in 1992 to provide gifts and support to underprivileged children during the holiday season.
In 2008, Shaq partnered with the Payless ShoeSource chain to launch a program called “Shaq To School,” which aimed to donate shoes and backpacks to kids in need. The program was expanded in subsequent years to include additional items like socks, hats and gloves. Then in 2010, Shaq teamed up with the nonprofit organization Samaritan’s Feet to launch the “Shaq’s Shoes” initiative. The program involved giving away thousands of pairs of shoes to children in cities across the United States and around the world. Shaq also participated in shoe distributions and events to raise awareness for the cause.
Since then, Shaq has continued to support various charitable causes related to education, health, and social justice. His efforts to provide shoes to kids in need have made a positive impact on many young lives and his philanthropic work serves as an inspiration to others who may wish to use their platform and resources to make a difference in their communities just as he is doing by pouring back into Kilburn.
GoFundMe organizer Kara Pattison told ABC Detroit, “The Kilburns plan to open a bank account dedicated to Eric’s future footwear and some specialized sports equipment. They are also looking into a bigger project of helping other outliers find things that fit.”