Hart Alumnus Justin Gallegos becomes first pro Nike athlete with Cerebral Palsy

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Hart Alumnus Justin Gallegos becomes first pro Nike athlete with Cerebral Palsy

Marissa Soto, News Editor

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October 6, World Cerebral Palsy Day, Hart alumnus Justin Gallegos became the first runner with Cerebral Palsy to sign a  running contract with Nike. “I had known they were considering it, but I didn’t think it was going to happen. With a company that big, I didn’t think they’d have time to put that into action,” said Gallegos.

“Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder that affects a child’s movement, motor skills, and muscle tone,”said the website,CerebralPalsyGuidance.com.

Gallegos does not let his disability hold him back. He was on Hart’s cross-country and track and field team all four years of high school and currently is a junior at the University of Oregon. A video was made about his journey when he was in high school. Currently, Gallegos runs for Oregon’s club team. He had just finished a practice with the team when Nike Insight’s director John Truax had offered him the contract. A video of his emotional reaction to the offer can be found on YouTube.

“Signing this contract with Nike was a huge success for me and I would not have made it without my friends and family and teammates! This was perhaps the 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 definitely is possible, but the odds are most definitely not in your favor! Hard work pays off! ” Gallegos said in an Instagram post.

Gallegos had been in contact with some Nike employees, who had helped him fundraise some money in order for him to attend his dream school, the University of Oregon. He also had been helping them with FlyEase, a shoe designed for people with physical disabilities, and was one of the first people to test the first prototype of the product.

His major is journalism, although after college he hopes to work for Nike. However Gallegos expressed that he knows things may change, and  is keeping his mind open for post-college opportunities and careers.

“Don’t be afraid to give college athletics a try. Even if someone is telling you you’re not good enough or you yourself don’t think you are, don’t be afraid to take a risk,” Gallegos said.