Nike signed their first athlete with cerebral palsy and the surprise moment was caught on video
Last Saturday, University of Oregon runner Justin Gallegos hit the trail for a team race. It turned out to be much, much more than that. When the college junior crossed the finish line, a representative from Nike was there to surprise him with a contract. Gallegos is the first athlete with cerebral palsy to sign with the sports corporation – and the video will make your heart burst with happiness.
Gallegos joined the cross country team his freshman year of high school. Cerebral palsy restricts the body’s movement, which meant that his early days of running involved a good deal of falling. But Gallegos kept pushing through. He finished his first half-marathon in April and was just shy of his two hour goal.
“I saw that [running] was improving my quality of life,” he told FOX 12. “It was making me stronger. It really didn’t matter that I was finishing last in most of the races.”
When Gallegos headed to his race this past week, he thought the cameras were there to capture the athletes in action. Instead, they were there for him.
“I just wanted to share something with you guys,” John Douglass, Nike’s insights director, told the runners as they gathered around. “One of your teammates has been working pretty hard the last couple years, and Nike has recognized that. So today I am giving him the Nike contract [to be an] official Nike athlete.”
When he heard the good news, Gallegos sobbed and dropped to the ground while his teammates applauded. The whole video will make you sob so, so happily right along with him.
“I’m so grateful to have been a part of this story where so many people put their names in history books, and make records, and break records,” Gallegos told FOX 12. “It’s a been a dream come true.”
The athlete has big plans for the future, including designing a Nike shoe specifically for people with disabilities. He also hopes to send a message to everyone that dreams can actually come true, if you put in the effort to make them happen.
“Hard work pays off! Hundreds of miles, blood, sweat, and tears has lead me here along with a few permanent scars!” Gallegos wrote on Instagram. “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! Thank you everyone for helping show the world that there is No Such Thing As A Disability!”
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