Justin Gallegos is a junior at the University of Oregon and a member of the school’s running club. He also has Cerebral Palsy and last week announced that he will be the first ever athlete with the disability to sign a pro contract with Nike. You can watch the video of Nike surprising him with the pro contract offer after a cross country race below and be warned, it’s pretty emotional.
Gallegos took to Instagram to offer his thoughts. “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!” he said. “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!”
Last year, a study found that there has been a growing visibility of elite athletes with disabilities in the media, but many of the positive gains are undercut by narratives that still focuses more on the athlete’s disability than their athletic ability. Hopefully, stories like Gallegos’ can help the public perception of people with disabilities continue to evolve.