One of the best things I get to be a part of every holiday season is the Warm the Soles program at University Credit Union.
How the program works is local schools and programs like the Boys and Girls Club provide the Credit Union with lists of kids in need and their shoe sizes. The Credit Union takes the lists to stores and buys the shoes. Members of the Credit Union can then donate money to pay for the shoes that are delivered at a few Christmas events.
The one who runs the program for the Credit Union is Alexa (who also happens to be a huge Jazz fan.) This year while going through the lists she noticed something that stood out, one of the kids had requested size 19 shoes.
This wasn’t a request for smaller children sizes, but an adult 19.
At first we thought it was a mistake or a typo, but when Alexa reached out to the Boys and Girls Club they confirmed that there was a 15-year-old boy named Nick who is 6’8” and does indeed wear size 19 shoes.
So we started searching.
The first thing you notice when you are looking for a size 19 Adidas or Nike is that it’s not available in every Footlocker. Most stores go up to a size 16 and online they sometimes go up to 18. But that’s not always in the size or style you want. There’s just not a lot of choices.
So we had a problem.
For ideas I went to Twitter to ask for help or ideas.
Question: At work we do a charity shoe drive for underprivileged kids. But this year there is a kid who wears a size 19 shoe. Where do we find size 19 shoes that are nice? Footlocker only goes to an 18 for example...— James Hansen (@hansenjames) October 26, 2018
Multiple people replied with the same idea.
ask @rudygobert27— Grackle (@dphilton) October 26, 2018
You ask rudy....— Mark M (@Mmueller88) October 26, 2018
Go check Ross stores. I saw a pair of 18s there the other day. Hit up @rudygobert27— Kris Ingles (@5kl) October 26, 2018
After not getting a lot of great options, Alexa decided why not just do what everyone mentioned and ask Rudy. She sent him a direct message on instagram and within an hour Rudy replied to her request that he’d be happy to help. But instead of telling Alexa where to buy shoes, he asked her if Nick would be okay with a couple pairs of his size 20 shoes.
Alexa replied that absolutely he would. Since Nick is still growing, that would probably be better anyways. Rudy said that when he got back from his road trip he’d make sure we’d get the shoes.
As you can imagine, everyone in the office was buzzing about the most interesting shoe donation of the year.
Talking with Nick’s mother, and learning more about him, you find out that life with feet that large comes with a lot of disadvantages. You can’t always do things that other kids take for granted. For example, bowling alley’s and ice skating rinks won’t carry your shoe size.
Maybe that’s why Rudy Gobert was so quick to help, other than already being a very charitable player with his Rudy’s Kids foundation, maybe Rudy Gobert knows what it’s like to deal with stores not carrying his shoe size, or not being able to go bowling because nothing will fit.
Sure enough when Rudy got back from the road trip he had the shoes delivered.
We put a Rudy Gobert package together and brought them to the Boys and Girls club to give to Nick.
The first thing you’ll notice about Nick when you meet him, besides his size, is how kind and humble he is. You can tell that he has a good heart and cares about his family and those around him.
We surprised Nick at the Boys and Girls club with the gift and everyone oohed and ahhed as he opened them up knowing who they were from. It was fantastic seeing how special he felt and how much he appreciated it. It’s not every day you receive a gift from an NBA player. But he appreciated it even more because he’s never had shoes quite like these. No one but him can understand having that same unique struggle.
Well, except Rudy Gobert.
On that day Nick was the center of attention thanks to Rudy Gobert.
And you want to know the best part? Nick’s mom told me he’s gotten excited about basketball because of this. She said that, before, Nick felt intimidated by basketball. Now he wants to play. Now he literally has Rudy Gobert’s shoes to fill.
Finally, I just wanted to say that Rudy Gobert didn’t announce this to anyone, he was just happy to help someone that he can relate to in an interesting way. That’s why Rudy Gobert is special. Just like the little things he does on the court to help his team win, the little things he does in the community, not expecting any praise or applause, is the reason he’s great.
Win or lose, Jazz fans can be assured that Rudy Gobert is someone to always root for. He’s truly one of the good guys.