Become the first Nike sponsored athlete with cerebral palsy? Tick!
A junior student at the University of Oregon, Justin Gallegos, has signed a professional contract with Nike. You could say this is not that unusual, but we beg to differ.
Being born with mild cerebral palsy, which causes him to run with a knock-kneed gait, Justin is the first athlete with his condition to be sponsored by Nike in the brand’s more than 50 years of history.
Growing up, the athlete used a walker and underwent a lot of physical therapy to improve his movement. He first fell in love with running around the age of fourteen, and when he discovered that one of his trainers had gone to the University of Oregon, located in Nike’s birthplace Eugene, he became determined to study there and compete in the running club.
In his first cross country encounter with the University of Oregon Track Club back in 2016, one of Justin’s shoes came off 50m into the race. He picked it up, carried it through the rest of the race and finished it, becoming a true inspiration. However, to avoid problems like this happening again, Justin has helped Nike develop the FlyEase, a shoe for runners with disabilities, complete with an innovative zippered heel and lacing system, that comes in men’s, women’s and kid’s sizes.
In April this year, with the aid of a team of pacers, Justin completed his first half-marathon in 2:03:49, and now dreams of breaking the 2 hours mark. He’s the living proof that we can do whatever we set our minds to, so it’s time to stop making excuses and just do it.