Sometimes, if you chase after your dreams, and you run as hard as you can, you catch them.
Justin Gallegos (zoommagic on Insta) loves running. He has since his freshman year in high school when he was first introduced to the sport. He wasn’t the fastest runner at his high school in California, and he’s not the fastest runner at the University of Oregon. It’s not because he isn’t talented, or because he doesn’t train enough.
Running is just a little different for Justin than for some others. He has cerebral palsy, and he dreams of one day breaking two hours for the half marathon. Which would be an amazing performance, given that as a young child he couldn’t walk without a walker. It took Justin years of therapy to be able to walk unaided, and then to run. His gait comes together at the knees, a result of the lifelong effects of the disease, but that hasn’t stopped him. He followed his dreams all the way to Oregon, the epicenter of distance running in the U.S., where he competes on the club team in both cross country and track & field.
Last week, as Justin finished a cross country race, he was greeted by a Nike representative who was waiting to make him an offer to be the first athlete with cerebral palsy to sign a sponsorship deal with the sporting goods giant. The deal will help with expenses over Justin’s final year at Oregon, where he’ll continue to compete with the club. And what’s more, Justin has been helping Nike with another project; designing a running shoe for athletes with disabilities like his.
Congrats, Justin! We look forward to celebrating with you when you break the two-hour barrier! May we suggest the Chicago Half Marathon? We’ll bring the popcorn.