It was the surprise of a lifetime for runner Justin Gallegos.
The University of Oregon student had just wrapped up a recent practice with the school’s running club when Nike’s insights’ director, John Douglass, showed up.
On Saturday, with a film crew surrounding him, Gallegos was offered a three-year contract with Nike, making him the first professional Nike athlete in history with Cerebral Palsy.
“Today on world Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, I reached a milestone in my running journey! Today I made Nike history and became the very first athlete with Cerebral Palsy to sign a contract with Nike! You don’t realize how realistic and emotional your dreams are until they play out before your very eyes! Signing this contract was a huge success for me and I would not have made it without my friends and family and teammates! This was perhaps the most emotional moment in my seven years of running! Growing up with a disability, the thought of becoming a professional athlete is as I have said before like the thought of climbing Mt. Everest! It is definitely possible, but the odds are most definitely not in your favor! Hard work pays off! Hundreds of miles, blood, sweat, and tears has lead me here along with a few permanent scars! But the journey is damn sure not over!!! Looking back, I would guess there is only a few select people who would see me were I am today! I have gone through just about everything in the book to be where I am today! I was once a kid in leg braces who could barely put on foot in front of the other! Now I have signed a three year contract with Nike Running! Trust the process! And most of all trust in God! God is good! Thank you to all my friends, family, and teammates on running club, and now a brand new atmosphere on teammates with Nike! This moment will live forever! Thank you everyone for helping show the world that there is No Such Thing As A Disability!”
According to Running Magazine, Gallegos first caught the attention of Nike while he was still in high school and has since helped the brand develop a shoe for runners with disabilities – The FlyEase, which had a zippered heel to make it easier for the runner to get on and off.
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In April, he completed his first half marathon with a time of 2:03:49. And, in September, he ran his second half marathon, finishing with a time of 2:10:58. He says his goal is to break the two-hour mark.
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I’m still at loss for words! Thank to everyone for the love and the support not only the past couple days but the last seven years of my life! Beyond blessed to officially represent the swoosh! Still can’t believe I made Nike history! Very excited! Big things are yet to come! Trust in the process! And trust in God! All glory to the most high! God is truly good! #NikeRunning #NIKE #SWOOSH #SwooshFamily #Beaverton #Nike72 #JustDoIt #ThereIsNoFinishLine #StrongerEveryMile #NoSuchThingAsADisability #Limitless #Breaking2