Kyler Nipper, 14, is a remarkable young man with a story that needs to be shared. It is a story of trials, tribulations, and the triumph of kindness and caring. It starts with Kyler’s feet and shoes. Kyler has a condition known as idiopathic toe walking. Shorter-than-normal Achilles tendons prevent his heels from touching the ground. This led to a chronic problem of beat up and broken shoes which led to bullying at his school. In fact; three years ago Kyler ended up in an emergency room in Colorado Springs after several middle-school classmates bullied him about his worn-out shoes while he was on his way to biology class. One of the boys stabbed him multiple times in the chest and shoulder with a sharp pencil, puncturing his lung. Naturally his mother, Sherise Nipper, and her husband, Nick Nipper, a chef, pulled him out of school and arranged for him to be home-schooled.
But Kyler was left with many impacts, not just needing to heal, but also he suffered from PTSD. This would alter many peoples views to one of depression and fear. But for Kyler it was an inspiration. About a week after the incident, he decided that if he was bullied for his shoes, surely others would be as well. That’s when he decided to put a shoe donation box outside his family’s apartment. He then received permission from several stores in Colorado Springs to put out large cardboard boxes to collect new and gently used shoes from customers. “Kyler’s Kicks,” he wrote on each box. “Please donate shoes for those in need.” And it grew to the point a local business donated a bus so they could haul the collection of donations around low-income neighborhoods once a month to hand out the shoes. Families would hop aboard the bus and pick out whatever kind of shoes they desired.
Sadly the success of Kyler’s donations did not match his families financial situation. In March 2017, the Nippers became homeless when they could no longer afford to pay rent on their apartment because of all of their medical bills. “There were just too many to keep up with,” Sherise Nipper said. So they moved the family to Las Vegas. But Kyler didn’t give up on his kicks, and he kept the effort going. It grew again. In fact it got so big that Kyler now has schools where he stocks closets!
At Whitney Elementary School, one of three schools where Kyler regularly restocks a “Kyler’s Closet” with dozens of new shoes, students are grateful, said Linda LaHodny, a social worker who recently retired. She recalled one student who came in to get new shoes after another student had been making fun of her. “She walked back to class wearing not only her new shoes, but a big smile on her face like she’d just won the lottery,” LaHodny said. How many other students has Kyler helped avoid his own fate? Kyler’s Kicks has since collected and given out more than 25,000 pairs of shoes — mostly to at-risk children, teenagers and homeless people in Las Vegas.
So how is Kyler? He said he devotes about five hours a day to Kyler’s Kicks, which he fits in between his home studies. He cleans many of the shoes himself before giving them away. He also said that his real therapy for his PTSD comes from seeing strangers’ faces light up when he offers them new pairs of shoes. Not long ago, he said, he was walking down the street, and he saw a barefooted man who looked homeless. Kyler figured he and the man had the same size feet, so he slid off his own shoes and gave them to the man. They both walked away happy, Kyler said. And that’s what keeps him going. “It’s the best feeling ever,” he said.
A remarkable young man and the subject of your Good News Story of the Day, which there is so much more to and you can find here. It’s truly a miracle that he was not killed in the attack, and that he turned that into a grand gesture of kindness and love for others. God Bless children like Kyler.
Story and Image from The Washington Post.