RJ Kilcher, a member of Trinity, Clinton Township and home school music student at Faith, Troy, spent his summer mowing lawns, holding lemonade stands and encouraging neighbors to let him earn money. He wasn’t attempting to buy the newest video game or Skylanders; he just wanted to buy some Crocs. Well, 100 pairs of Crocs.
He succeeded. In fact, he purchased more than 450 pairs. Why would an 11-year-old boy need that many pairs of Crocs? He was donating them to kids with Cerebral Palsy who require leg braces.
“I wear AFOS, or ankle and foot orthosis, every day and night because the Cerebral Palsy mainly affects my legs. My muscles and tendons are too tight and my nerves don’t communicate properly with them,” RJ Kilcher wrote on his Go Fund Me page. “My mom and I would spend hours looking for shoes to fit over my AFOS. We would go to at least a dozen stores and often came home with nothing.”
About a year ago, the Kilchers went to the Crocs store at a local mall. RJ Kilcher was able to put on shoes all by himself for the very first time in his life. The Crocs have an open back, making it easy for the user to slip on and off and also accommodate the AFOs.
In May, while having lunch with his mom, Aimee Kilcher, RJ told her that he wanted to buy Crocs for all of his friends in his therapy program, setting a goal of 100. Aimee helped him get started–encouraging him as he earned money doing chores, raised donations, and collected Crocs and started making deliveries.
“It turned into a much different summer than I imagined,” Aimee Kilcher said. “It’s been amazing to watch the difference this has made in his life.”
Besides earning the money, Aimee said her son has taken responsibility for collecting sizes, making purchases, and passing out the shoes. His parents have helped with transportation and making sure the accounting is all in order.
Then, the news came to their door. Local newspapers and television crews visited RJ and shared his birthday wish with a larger community. More donations of shoes and money came in and, with it, the ability to help more kids.
As the summer days started to wane, the Kilchers determined what to do next. “RJ’s not stopping,” Aimee said.
The family has decided to look into creating a non-profit and expanding their services. While they were able to provide so many pairs of regular Crocs, they are now looking toward winter, when the Crocs don’t provide the protection against the elements. They would like to have another push for Crocs–this time for the fleece-lined variety that the kids can wear in the cold.
“It’s a feeling—it’s a God thing. I just knew I needed to do this to help people,” RJ said.