CEREBRAL PALSY COULDN'T KEEP OREGON'S JUSTIN GALLEGOS FROM EARNING A PRO CONTRACT
ABOUT 150 METERS into his very first cross-country race for the University of Oregon running club, Justin Gallegos fell. It wasn't anything new to him. Gallegos has been running since 2012; he has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that limits some of his muscle control and can sometimes cause his feet to drag. During that first race for the Ducks, his shoes came off as he tumbled to the dirt.
But falling does not mean quitting for the 20-year-old junior. On Oct. 6—World Cerebral Palsy Day—Gallegos believed the video cameras at his club cross-country meet were there to simply capture his race, but they were recording even bigger news: After Gallegos crossed the finish line, Nike presented Gallegos with a professional contract, believed to be the first for an athlete with cerebral palsy. Gallegos was brought to his knees, tears in his eyes.
Last April in Eugene, Gallegos completed his first half marathon in 2:03:49, wearing a specialty running shoe for people with disabilities—it has a zippered heel so it's easier to get on and off—that he developed with Nike. He finished three minutes shy of his sub-two-hour goal, but is already looking ahead to his next chance in 2019. "We are only limited by our minds and not our bodies," he said after the race. "You can live limitless."