Nike Signs Its First Athlete With Cerebral Palsy
Justin Gallegos, who has cerebral palsy, was signed by Nike in a history-making moment for the famous sports apparel brand.
When Justin Gallegos, 20, began the Eugene Half Marathon in Oregon, U.S., he had one goal on his mind -- crack two hours.
He was running as part of the University of Oregon team, and believed the cameras surrounding him were set up to follow the race.
But they were there to capture something much more special.
Waiting at the finish line was John Douglass, Nike's insights director, and in his hands was a pro-contract.
Surrounded by teammates and competitors from rival colleges, Douglass made the announcement to a stunned Gallegos.
"One of your teammates, has been working hard the past couple of years, and Nike has recognised that," he said.
"So today, I am presenting him an official Nike contract."
It took a few seconds for the Gallegos to realise the contract was for him, but when he did, the tears flowed.
Falling to his knees, Gallegos sobbed as the years of hard work and the realisation of what a pro-contract meant.
Gallegos is the company's first pro-athlete to have cerebral palsy.
He began running as a high school freshman, and had to retrain the way his body moved by improving his gait and lifting his knees high so his dragging feet didn't trip him over as he ran.
It wasn't until he started at the University of Oregon, where he is studying journalism, that he considered running a half marathon after joining the track club.
It was through a friend he began working with Nike to develop a show that has custom cushioning, durability and support for Gallegos' running style.
But that partnership turned into so much more. Not only did he get a pro-contract, he has continued to help Nike design shoes for people with disabilities.
Nike's FlyEase shoe series is a result of that collaboration -- the running shoe doesn't have laces, instead a zipper and strap system to make it easier for people with movement issues to get in and out of shoes.
Not one to dream small, Gallegos hopes to one day represent the U.S. at the Paralympics.
Feature Image: Elevation 0m