Remember the name of Justin Gallegos, because the chances are pretty high that we’ll be hearing this name a lot more often from now on. Justin, a young 20-year-old student at the University of Oregon, has just made history.
The talented athlete is the first professional athlete suffering from cerebral palsy that has signed a professional contract with Nike Running.
Running has always been a passion of the student, who’s currently also a junior at the university’s running club. When Justin received the news about his contract, he was completely overwhelmed and shared his thoughts afterwards in an Instagram video.
“I was once a kid in leg braces who could barely put on foot in front of the other!” he proudly wrote on his Instagram page. “Now I have signed a three year contract with Nike Running!”
Justin has truly made history being the first professional Nike runner with the brain disease. Even though the young man always had the ambition to get to the top, he realized that his medical condition would likely hold him back.
In fact, just a couple of years ago, Justin was still struggling to even walk.
Now, he’s preparing to run half a marathon in under two hours.
“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!”
Cerebral palsy is a severe condition of the brain that severely affects the development of motoric skills. The symptoms can vary greatly among those suffering from it, although poor coordination, tremors, and significantly weaker muscles are pretty widespread. Speaking issues are quite common as well.
If it’s any consolation, the symptoms of cerebral palsy don’t tend to aggravate over time and are actually more noticeable during childhood. This young runner definitely had more troubles with his symptoms earlier in life, and while it still isn’t easy to perform everyday tasks (let alone running half a marathon!), Justin’s determination is stronger than ever.
Justin’s reaction when he learns he’s signed to a professional contract is absolutely heartwarming.
The two parties previously worked together to create a running shoe specifically aimed towards people with disabilities. Since then, the company has always kept an eye on the driven and ambitious Justin.
Nike actually set up a surprise for the young man and told him that a camera crew was following him just to capture his cross-country race. However, the cameras were there for a much more special moment.
“What he believes are cameras capturing his cross-country race are actually set up to capture much greater news. Justin is about to receive a professional athlete contract from Nike. He will become the first professional Nike athlete in history with cerebral palsy,” is written in the promotion video.
The brand’s insights director was present as well and handed Justin a folder. The 20-year-old had no idea that inside the folder was his Nike contract.
Upon hearing the news, Justin breaks out in tears and is overwhelmed by emotion.
Plenty of tears of happiness were shed as this young man’s dream finally came true.
“You’re just a Nike athlete. In our eyes, you’re just a Nike athlete,” the company representative assured him.
To make things even more special, Justin received his contract on Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day.
In other words, there couldn’t have been a better moment.
“I’m still at a loss for words,” Justin wrote on his Instagram. “Thanks to everyone for the love and support not only the past couple days but the last seven years of my life! Beyond blessed to officially represent the swoosh.”
What an absolutely amazing and inspirational young man!
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