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EUGENE, Ore. (CBS) — Justin Gallegos, a runner at University of Oregon, has made history by becoming the first professional athlete with cerebral palsy to sign with Nike. Gallegos, a junior with the school’s running club, made the announcement in an emotional video on his Instagram page.
Gallegos was finishing a race on Saturday when he was met by a camera crew, a bunch of his teammates and Nike’s Insights director, John Douglass, who told him of the deal. In the video posted to his social media account, Gallegos collapses out of pure joy as his peers applaud him.
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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
“I was once a kid in leg braces who could barely put on foot in front of the other!” he wrote on Instagram. “Now I have signed a three year contract with Nike Running!”
A spokesperson with Nike confirmed to CBS News the signing of Gallegos. It was even more special because it landed on Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day. The condition is a neurological disorder that affects movement, motor skills and muscle tone.
Gallegos used a walker as a toddler and pre-schooler, and did physical therapy in order to improve his gait, according to Running Magazine. He began competing in long-distance running in high school and caught the attention of Nike, then helped the company develop a shoe designed for runners with disabilities.
Gallegos, who is aiming to run a half-marathon under two hours, calls this one of the most emotional moments in his 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!”
“Thank you everyone for helping show the world that there is No Such Thing As A Disability!” he said.
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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