JUST do it. It seems like such a simple concept to follow, but for many people, that’s just not possible. “It” can’t be done not because of fear or apathy, but because their bodies won’t let them.
This was the case for college student Matthew Walzer, born with cerebral palsy, who couldn’t even tie up his own shoelaces without assistance. So he wrote a letter to Nike in 2012 asking if they could help him out, and they did.
The multinational corporation launched the Zoom Soldier 8 on Monday. It’s a shoe that was designed specifically for people with disabilities, including amputees and those who have suffered strokes.
In his initial letter to the company, written when still at high school, Walzer explained his embarrassment and frustration at not being able to put his own shoes on.
“Out of all the challenges I have overcome in my life, there is one that I am still trying to master, tying my shoes. Cerebral palsy stiffens the muscles in the body. As a result I have flexibility in only one of my hands which makes it impossible for me to tie my shoes. My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes everyday.
“I’ve worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I can only wear this type of shoe because I need ankle support to walk. I am currently wearing the Lunar Hyper Gamer and LeBron Zoom Soldier 6s. At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating, and at times, embarrassing.”
After years of research and development, Walzer now has access to a shoe that will make getting dressed that much easier. Nike’s senior director of athlete innovation Tobie Hatfield told HuffPost that using Flyease technology allows for rear entry without the need to tie laces, while at the same time providing ample support.
“Easy entry, easy access, easy adjustment, easy closure,” he said of the shoe.
As part of the LeBron James series, the NBA star was closely invested in the progress of Nike’s ambitious project. “There is a real need for a solution like this and it feels good to be a part of something that is going to help so many people,” James said on Nike.com.
Nike plans to use its Flyease technology in future designs. Pairs of their latest release will be sent to two American basketball teams competing in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles starting in July. They are also working with the US Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby side to come up with products to make competing easier for them.