Can one be a professional athlete even if he has cerebral palsy?
Runner’s World lets you meet the person who proved that this is possible.
“My name is Justin Gallegos and I want to change the world through advocating for equal opportunity for disabled athletes,” he tells Runner’s World.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects muscle coordination.
While Gallegos could walk and run unaided, his feet often titled inward causing him to fall. But this condition did not stop him from running.
In 2012, he joined his high school cross-country team. He also got accepted into the University of Oregon and began running for their team club.
“I never quit simply because I saw that it was doing more good in my life than it was doing bad,” Gallegos said.
His story started gaining national attention.
Gallegos was named one of Runner’s World’s 2017 “Heroes of Running.”
“I want to show people that you should live your life without limits,” he stressed. “Don’t let people who question you get in your way.”
Gallegos also had the opportunity to be invited to the Nike headquarters and meet founder Phil Knight. After giving inputs on what it was like to run with an impairment, the company provided him with a pair of shoes designed for his unique gait.
But that’s not all.
After a cross country practice in October 2018, Gallegos was greeted by a Nike representative rewarding him a contract to be an official Nike athlete.
Gallegos became the first professional athlete with cerebral palsy!
He described that day as his most emotional moment in his seven years of running.
“Growing up and with a disability, the thought of becoming a professional athlete is like climbing Mt. Everest,” he said. “It is definitely possible, but the odds are most definitely not in your favor!”