New Nike Sneakers Are Changing the Game for People with Disabilities

Basketball going into hoop

The Huffington Post just broke this news story about an incredibly exciting new sneaker from our friends at Nike.

The article tells the story of Matthew Walzer, a college sophomore with Cerebral Palsy.

Up until now, simply putting on his shoes was an impossible task. While he could independently dress himself, footwear was a whole separate challenge.

Lacking the dexterity to get his foot in and out of his shoes, the Florida teen had to enlist the help of others.

He told Huff Post, “By the time you turn 16 it gets frustrating or embarrassing if you’re out with your friends and your shoe comes untied and you have to ask your friend, ‘Hey, can you bend down and tie my shoe for me?’”

So he decided to do something about it.

Back in 2012, while he was still in high school, Walzer sent a letter to Nike. That letter ended up in the hands of Nike CEO Mark Parker, who in turn passed it along to Tobie Hatfield, the company’s senior director of athlete innovation.

Three years and one heck of a partnership later, Matthew Walzer and Hatfield’s team at Nike were ready to launch the Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease. And that’s exactly what they did yesterday.

The shoe is the first of its kind for Nike, and could be the first of its kind anywhere. It’s specifically designed to help those with disabilities buy and wear shoes. It will be available July 16 in limited quantities at Nike.com for North America.

The Flyease technology allows for rear entry and no laces to tie, while still providing support.

“Easy entry, easy access, easy adjustment, easy closure,” Hatfield said of the shoe.

Later in the article he noted, “It’s so important for quality of life, it’s not always about trying to win a gold medal or achieve a world record,” before invoking Nike’s mantra: “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”

There are already plans for further development and more options – all beautiful things.

Kudos to Nike and Matthew Walzer for making this happen. These shoes are going to improve far more lives than the average pair.

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