Nike has just signed their first professional athlete with cerebral palsy, cross-country runner Justin Gallegos. They signed the University of Oregon junior to a three-year contract. A moving video posted on YouTube shows the exact moment that he had received the news, which was on World Cerebral Palsy Day. The announcement caught Justin by surprise, as he was finishing up a race. Great moment for cerebral palsy victims and their families and, obviously, a nice piece of marketing for Nike. I feel like I’m being a little manipulated by this story and I still have an urge to run out and buy some Nikes.
Throughout his young life, Gallegos overcame significant adversity due to his condition. He learned to walk at 2 years old, with the assistance of a walker. However, physical therapy helped improve his stride well enough that he did not need it by the time he reached Kindergarten. Gallegos initially wanted to join his high school’s football team, but his father Brent persuaded him to join the cross country team instead. Brent and Justin spoke to his high school’s cross country coaches Darren James and Larry David about possibly joining the team. Brent assured both coaches that their son could run three miles needed for a cross-country race, and Justin would have a strong work ethic.