Training for any competitive sport takes determination, skill and grit. You have to push yourself further than you’re comfortable with, and constantly challenge yourself to be better and faster.
That’s difficult for anyone, but when you have a condition on top of it all, becoming a recognized athlete isn’t just an honor, it’s proof that there’s really nothing that can hold you back from your goals.
Justin Gallegos, a junior at the University of Oregon, runs cross-country with the school’s running club. Recently, after one of his practice runs, he was surprised by the news that Nike wanted to offer him a contract.
This was big, really big. Not just because Gallegos would become a well-known athlete, but because he was the first one with Cerebral palsy to land a contract with Nike.
Gallegos shared his thoughts on the monumental accomplishment on Instagram on Oct. 6.
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“Today on world Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, I reached a milestone in my running journey!” he wrote. “Today I made Nike history and became the very first athlete with Cerebral Palsy to sign a contract with Nike!
“You don’t realize how realistic and emotional your dreams are until they play out before your very eyes! Signing this contract was a huge success for me and I would not have made it without my friends and family and teammates!
“This was perhaps the most emotional moment in my seven years of running! Growing up with a disability, the thought of becoming a professional athlete is as I have said before like the thought of climbing Mt. Everest!
“It is definitely possible, but the odds are most definitely not in your favor! Hard work pays off! Hundreds of miles, blood, sweat, and tears has lead me here along with a few permanent scars! But the journey is damn sure not over!!!
“Looking back, I would guess there is only a few select people who would see me were I am today! I have gone through just about everything in the book to be where I am today! I was once a kid in leg braces who could barely put on foot in front of the other! Now I have signed a contract with Nike Running!”
Justin Gallegos, a runner at Oregon with cerebral palsy, thought he was just finishing another cross country race. Little did he know, Nike was waiting at the finish line to offer him a pro contract (via @kabdullah360 / Elevation 0m) pic.twitter.com/FIXFoHQYI3
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 10, 2018
“Trust the process! And most of all trust in God! God is good! Thank you to all my friends, family, and teammates on running club, and now a brand new atmosphere on teammates with Nike! This moment will live forever! Thank you everyone for helping show the world that there is No Such Thing As A Disability!”
His joy is clear in the video that’s making the rounds. After John Douglass with Nike showed up and announced the contract, Gallegos fell to the ground, sobbing.
All that hard work, all the grueling practice and pain and the not-knowing had paid off.
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