I recently came across the story of Eric Kilburn Jr. He’s a great young man, by all accounts. Yet, he was in need.
His mother, Rebecca Kilburn, saw that Eric was struggling. Her 14-year-old son needed shoes. Not just any shoes but big shoes. Eric is 6’10” with size 23 feet.
He’s a monster of a young man.
Rebecca sent a call out to local and national media after she couldn’t find shoes that fit Eric. Eric had been wearing shoes that were a size too small. He couldn’t find cleats to play sports. It was frustrating to him and his family.
The media picked up on Eric’s plight. They began running news stories in various news outlets. Today, AOL, MLive, and other news outlets knew this would be a story that had to be told.
What broke my heart was reading the response from shoe companies. Rebecca reached out with a desperate plea to Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Under Armour, Red Wing Shoes, and local shoemakers.
The typical response Rebecca received was, “We don’t make that size.” Many of the shoemakers told her that the only way to get shoes made in the size Eric needed was for him to become a pro athlete or pay $1,500 per pair of shoes.
Thankfully, Eric’s story doesn’t end there. There was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Thanks to media coverage, Under Armour changed its message. Senior Director of Footwear Development Robb Cropp reached out to Rebecca. Cropp said, “We had to help.” So did PUMA.
But what stuck out to me was Cropp being made aware of a need (maybe he wasn’t one of the people Rebecca had contacted?). When presented with the need, Cropp said yes. He would help get shoes for the young man.
You can read more about Eric’s story by clicking the link above. I want to share four takeaways from Eric’s situation and ask you to help someone as well.
We Have To Help
Leaders have to have empathy:
I believe the best leaders are empathetic and compassionate. They see a need, and they have to fill the need. As news of his story broke, companies and individuals began to help Eric. Individuals donated to a GoFundMe page set up to buy shoes for him. Companies, some of whom turned down the original request, began to step up.
Learn how to have empathy. Feel for those you lead.
Look at those around you. Who needs help? What can you do to help?
You’ve got resources. You have to help.
Leaders inspire others:
Eric’s story went viral. His mother attracted much-needed media attention for her son’s issue. She couldn’t take no for an answer, so she pushed. This push inspired people from around the globe.
Does your story inspire others? Can you make the connection needed to get someone to move into action?
The best leaders inspire others. They know how to connect, share their story, and gain attention.
Learn to inspire others.
Leaders take charge and develop solutions:
Multiple people took charge and developed solutions for Eric’s situation. The first of which was his mother. Rebecca reached out, sought answers, and got answers. The second group of people to take action was the shoemakers. Under Armour and PUMA began working on solutions once the right person was inspired. Both companies are sending representatives to Michigan to fit Eric with new shoes.
As a leader, you can’t sit around and wait for things to happen. The world doesn’t work that way. Instead, you have to take charge and develop solutions.
This could be developing a sales team to sell your product, seeing a need and creating a unique solution, or being the one to say, “I’ll do this.” Leaders don’t wait around. They see an issue, take charge, and develop a solution.
Good leaders pay it forward:
With all of the national media attention Eric received, they had a platform to help others. The Kilburn family created the “Big Shoe Network” group on Facebook. They want to help other families struggling to find shoes to fit just as they were helped. They’re now sharing their expertise and knowledge with other families.
When you learn or have success, it’s your responsibility to pay it forward. Share what you’ve learned or the success that you’ve had. You will find you’re doing what leaders do when they do this: Grow and help others.
Will You Help?
Today, Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023, is World Water Day. It’s a day near and dear to my heart as I regularly partner with Team World Vision and World Vision International.
World Water Day is important because millions of people lack access to clean and safe water. If you’re like me, you believe this isn’t right. Clean water shouldn’t be something someone goes without. And you won’t stand for that.
Because it’s World Water Day, Team World Vision had a generous sponsor step up to match up to $700,000 in funds starting at 9 AM EST. That means for every dollar given, a dollar is matched. Your donation is doubled.
I’ll run a half marathon in October to raise awareness and funds. I invite you to partner with me, Team World Vision, and the generous donor to make headway against the global water crisis.
Would you donate something today to make a difference? You can give at https://www.facebook.com/donate/528286809160693/ or https://www.teamworldvision.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.participant&participantID=361713. Either one will go to support Team World Vision through my run.
And don’t think I’m asking you to do something I wouldn’t do. Once the match goes live at 9 AM, Reel Leadership will be donating to the cause.