Justin Gallegos is a student and cross-country runner at the University of Oregon who just made history. Earlier this month, Gallegos became the first professional Nike athlete with cerebral palsy.
In his Instagram post about the contract, Gallegos wrote, “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!”
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It’s caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain and is the most common motor disability in childhood.
Gallegos started running when he was 14. “I did fall two to three times per week for a while, but eventually, the reason 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,” he told Runner’s World.
He joined his high school cross-country team to get involved and improve his strength but never dreamed that he would one day be a professional athlete. He was presented with a contract from the company by footwear marketing manager John Truax after running club practice, and video footage of the emotional surprise was posted on Oct. 6, which is World Cerebral Palsy Day. Check out the video of the surprise below:
Wow! You can really see just how shocked and overjoyed Gallegos is to receive the news as he breaks down in tears.
“I’m sure once I start getting more involved it will fully sink in,” Gallegos told Runner’s World. “But for now, I’m more in shock that it’s happening. I knew they were thinking about giving me a contract, but with something like that, you don’t expect it to happen.”
As a junior on the University of Oregon’s club team, Gallegos races 5K on the track, 8K in cross country and half marathons on the road (his personal best in the half is 2:03, Runner’s World reported). He hopes to run the Chicago Marathon next year as his first full marathon.
Gallegos took to Instagram to share a photo of himself about to sign his contract and express his gratitude and excitement:
“Beyond blessed to officially represent the swoosh!” he wrote in his caption. “Still can’t believe I made Nike history! Very excited! Big things are yet to come!”
Congratulations to Gallegos, and we can’t wait to follow along with his professional career!