In early October 2018, Nike named its latest spokesperson, a University of Oregon runner named Justin Gallegos. He became the first ever athlete with cerebral palsy (CP) that the company has signed. The condition affects motor skills, movement, and muscle tone.
The endorsement contract came as a surprise to Gallegos, who collapsed to the ground with joy when he heard the news. It was presented to him after a routine running club practice. He already had a history with Nike, appearing in an ad campaign earlier this year and being filmed as he tried to break a sub-two hour half marathon time, but had no idea this was coming. Gallegos had also helped the company develop an athletic shoe for athletes with disabilities.
Video of the moment was released on October 6, Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. It quickly went viral. Gallegos started running at age 14 in an effort to improve his quality of life and become stronger. He’s stuck with the sport ever since, saying “I never quit or expressed interest in quitting is simply because I saw that it was doing more good in my life than it was doing bad.”
After the touching presentation, Gallegos took to Instagram with this message: “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!”