CANTON, Mass. -- The tallest man in the United States traveled from Minneapolis to Massachusetts on Thursday for a custom shoe-fitting with Reebok that he hopes will help him live a normal life.
Igor Vovkovinskiy says he's had 16 surgeries in six years to fix problems created by shoes that didn't fit. He's 7 feet, 8 and one-third inches tall with a shoe size somewhere between a 22 and 26.
Vovkovinskiy says his only shoes have no traction, making it "suicidal" to leave his home.
"I haven't been able to go for a joyful walk for six years now," he said. "I look forward to just going for a walk with my dog, just walking around the neighborhood."
Vovkovinskiy was at Reebok headquarters in Canton on Thursday for a complex shoe-fitting that involved, among other things, custom pressure-mounting equipment, bio-foam, a device that takes precise measurements of length, a tape measure and a handful of technicians.
Reebok says it's building the shoes at a cost of $12,000 to $20,000. It has helped Vovkovinskiy before and hopes to again, the company said.
The size of Vovkovinskiy's shoes depends on measurements such as the length, width and distance from his soles to the top of his feet. Those measurements are particularly tricky with Vovkovinskiy because he has unusually shaped toes and feet because of his numerous surgeries.
It will take the company up to six weeks to create prototypes for Vovkovinskiy to try out. Then, they'll fine-tune them to produce proper-fitting shoes.
Paul Robinson, a shoe technician at Reebok, measures a shoe belonging to Igor Vovkovinskiy as part of Vovkovinskiy's shoe fitting.
Vovkovinskiy, 29, is originally from the Ukraine, but at age 7 moved with his mother to Minnesota for treatment of his condition, known as pituitary gigantism. He was 6 feet tall at the time.
Vovkovinskiy said his life changed when the series of surgeries started. That forced him to spend three years on bed rest, during which time his muscles weakened and he gained weight.
"Living the last six years has been a nightmare basically," he said.
Shoes that fit will get him outside and make a huge difference, he said.
"Basically, I'm a prisoner of my own house, even though I am medically cleared to walk," Vovkovinskiy said. "Where am I going to go with shoes that are painful?"