A teenager wearing a size 23 shoe struggles to find shoes that fit him
When Jorrel Bolden was born, his feet were so large that his mother couldn’t find baby shoes to fit him.
He only wore socks on his feet for the first few months of his life, his mother, Tameka Neal, said.
Now 16, he wears a size 23 wide-leg shoe and has one pair his family found on eBay. The shoes are so tight now, making it difficult for him to go out and have fun.
Finding shoes that fit the 6-foot-5, 380-pound teen is a big task, his mother told USA TODAY Thursday night. His family was lucky to find the pair he has now.
“We do 22 parties but they are small,” said Neal, who lives in Independence, Missouri, about 10 miles east of Kansas City. “(The shoe) is tight on his feet so we need a larger size.”
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His mother said the teen would like to be able to wear Jordan shoes, Air Force shoes and other types of Nike shoes, but that is not possible because of his size.
The teenager said his struggle to find the shoes was “torture”.
He said he recently wanted to watch a movie with his cousin and couldn’t because his shoes would hurt his feet too much.
“I have to wear shoes that hurt my feet,” he told USA TODAY Thursday evening. “Every time I go out for a walk and do things my feet hurt.”
Teenagers’ struggle to find shoes starts from their birth
Bolden was born weighing 7 pounds, 14 ounces and 21 inches long, his mother recalled. His mother said he was born with very large feet anyway.
“We couldn’t find a pair of shoes that fit him because his little foot was too fat,” his mother said.
As he got older, it became a little easier to find shoes for him because his cousin wore the same size, his mother said.
“He would hand him his shoes and they would be in good condition,” she said, adding that her nephew also worked at a shoe store and would buy him shoes as well.
“I probably didn’t have to worry about that for the first six years of his life, because my niece and nephew took care of that,” Neil said.
Finding shoes didn’t become a problem again until her son was about 11 years old. When he was a teenager, he wore a size 10 or 11 in men’s clothing.
What’s next for Gurel?
Nell said she is a single mother and is doing her best to provide for her children. She is upset by her inability to meet her son’s basic needs and find shoes.
She said she set up a GoFundMe to raise money to buy him more shoes. As of Friday morning, the family had raised nearly $10,000.
“I’m really grateful and thankful for those who showed up for us and really showed it,” she said. “It’s definitely been a blessing during this time to see people come together and really show up for us.”
Her son loves drawing video games and cartoon characters, he told USA TODAY. After speaking with a local business owner named Titus Oziel Golden, he may turn to wrestling, boxing, and more.
Golden is also based in Missouri and operates the Ozell brand, which makes shoes and cleats. Golden has reached out to the family and plans to make shoes for the teen.
“I just have to measure his feet,” the teen’s mother said.
From there, they’ll get their teen into the right shoes and hopefully have more freedom.
Not the first size 23 teen struggling to find shoes
Bolden’s quest for comfortable shoes goes back to a Michigan teen who had a similar struggle, and eventually got help from Shaquille O’Neal to find shoes that fit.
Eric Kilburn Jr., who was 14 years old and 23 feet tall, saw his football season ruined by a sprained ankle. His mother, Rebecca Kilburn, would start looking for comfortable shoes.
The family’s research has caught the attention of a million readers, such as the 7-foot-1-inch O’Neal and shoe companies like Under Armor and Puma.
1 Million Readers, Two Shoemakers, Shaq:How a teenager finally got a size 23 shoe
Finally, after a rather lengthy process, Under Armor donated four pairs of custom-made cleats and two pairs of SlipSpeed training shoes to Goodrich High School, which in turn gave them to Eric. (The donation followed government sporting guidelines and ensured he could maintain his status as an amateur athlete.)
“I got the cleats on before conditioning practice and there was an immediate difference,” Eric told Hometown Life, part of the USA TODAY Network at the time.
“It’s crazy how much traction I’ve gotten. It’s mind-boggling.
Contributing: Susan Bromley, Hometownlife.com