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.”
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Season opener yesterday at Willamette Invitational! All time PR for the 8k! 41:47.9!! This summer I clocked over 220 miles, ran at high altitude, and my half marathon number two under my belt! Even though it wasn’t the result I wanted, I’m still thankful for the experience! Glad to see all my long miles and hard work pay yesterday!! Next stop #Sub41! Very excited all across the board about my third year here in Eugene, Oregon! Great things are coming! Very thankful for my running career and all my family, friends, supporters/fans, sponsors! God is good! #ClinicallyProven #Xendurance #StrongerEveryMile #NoSuchThingAsADisability #Recovery #GoldStandard #NikeRunning #Limitless #Breaking2 #RockTape #RunTheDay #RunGum #Sub41 #UORunningClub #Flyease #FlyeaseMentality Photo Credit: @itaiepstein
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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
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.
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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 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! #ProfessionalAthlete #SWOOSH #Nike72 #NikeTrackandField #NikeXC #ThereIsNoFinishLine #StrongerEveryMile #NoSuchThingAsADisability #NikeRunning #Limitless #Breaking2 Video Credits: @elevation0m
“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!”