A runner with the University of Oregon has made history, becoming the first professional athlete with cerebral palsy to sign a contract with Nike.
Justin Gallegos was told the exciting news after a recent practice when Nike’s insights director John Douglass surprised the runner, presenting him a three-year contract.
According to Running Magazine, Gallegos had leg braces and used a walker as a toddler and into his preschool years. It wasn’t until Grade 9 when he found his love of running, and was determined to follow in one of his coaches footsteps by attending the University of Oregon to study and compete in the school’s running club.
Last Saturday, Gallegos announced the signing on social media, which coincided with cerebral palsy awareness day.
“This was perhaps the most emotional moment in my seven years of running!” Gallegos wrote. “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!”
According to the magazine, Nike became aware of Gallegos when the runner was still in high school. The athletic company began to work with Gallegos to help develop a show for runners with disabilities.
“I was once a kid in leg braces who could barely put one foot in front of the other! Now I have signed a three year contract with Nike Running!” Gallegos wrote.
Gallegos’ goal is to break the two-hour mark in the half-marathon. In April, he completed his first half-marathon with a time of 2:03:49.