Written by Natalie Weddle of the Cowbucker account team.

Everyone has shed their fair share of happy tears over the video of Justin Gallegos, a junior on the University of Oregon’s cross country team, running his way into a three-year contract with Nike. Gallegos was born with cerebral palsy. He hasn’t let this movement disability stop him from achieving his goals. Not only did Gallegos make history, but his perseverance and desire to defy the odds is, as he puts it, “helping to show the world there is no such thing as a disability.”

Apart from Gallegos’ heartwarming reaction to receiving this honor and his apparent desire to succeed, this story never ceases to amaze due to the limitations of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a condition of movement disorders which often includes poor coordination, stiff muscles, and tremors – all of which make running incredibly hard. Growing up, Gallegos had to use a walker to help keep him on his feet and attended physical therapy. But once he was in high school the long distance runner started competing in track events. Coincidentally, Nike came out with a shoe for people with disabilities that had a zippered heel, to make it easier to put shoes on and off.  It is incredible to see that Gallegos is now working alongside Nike to help better shoe wear for “disabled” athletes.

In the last year, Nike’s reputation has had its ups and downs. In September 2018, Colin Kaepernick was signed onto a multilayer deal as the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary. Social media exploded with mixed emotions for signing on the ex-NFL player. Some viewed it as disrespectful while others celebrated him as an activist fighting for justice at significant personal risk. In this case, any press was good press. Nike stocks skyrocketed from supports and those who disagreed burned their shoes. Although different, the Gallegos moment follows the Kaepernick campaign effectively by creating more awareness of athletes with disabilities through viral content.

Nike has perfected the technique of tugging on their audience’s heartstrings. Their ability to break barriers and create controversy is the way Nike’s products not only stay on top of the “shoe chain” but also stays relevant in any social and political discourse. Nike is taking on a progressive attitude and advocating for social change and awareness. Whether they receive good or bad publicity Nike is constantly staying relevant. Not a day goes by without at least a dozen sightings of the iconic “swoosh.” No matter what Nike does, their stock always seems to be on the rise. Bringing up the question, “Is there anything Nike can do wrong”?


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