Getting an endorsement deal is huge for any athlete, from winning quarterbacks to backup catchers. Getting an endorsement deal for running cross-country is noteworthy. Getting an endorsement deal for running track when you have cerebral palsy is downright unheard of.
At least, it was.
Enter Justin Gallegos, a junior at the University of Oregon.
Justin joined the cross-country team his freshman year of high school, didn’t start running to try to win. He just wanted the exercise, and appreciated the benefits the activity provided to his body. But now, thanks to Nike surprising him with a contract, he’ll see some financial benefits too.
“I saw that it was improving my quality of life. It was making me stronger. It really didn’t matter that I was finishing last in most of the races,” Justin told “I saw that it was improving my quality of life. It was making me stronger. It really didn’t matter that I was finishing last in most of the races,” Gallegos told FOX 12.”
When Gallegos started running in high school, he fell down a lot. His cerebral palsy makes running a lot more difficult. But he persevered, and slowly improved. In April, he finished his first half-marathon.
Still, when he showed up to race on October 6th and saw the cameras, he had no idea they were for him. But when he crossed the finish line, a Nike representative was there waiting for him with a contract, making Justin the first athlete with cerebral palsy to sign such a deal with the famous sneaker company.
“I just wanted to share something with you guys,” said insights director to the runners gathered at the finish line. “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.”
The heartwarming moment was capture on video:
Justin was stunned, but happy. “I’m so grateful to have been apart of this story where so many people put their names in history books, and make records, and break records,” Gallegos said. “It’s a been a dream come true.”
He’s working with Nike on developing sneakers for people with disabilities.