A 16-year-old boy has inspired a leading shoe firm to design shoes for people with disabilities, and they look amazing!
Matthew Walzer’s cerebral palsy means he struggles putting on his footwear, knowing he wasn’t the only person with the problem back in 2012, when he was sixteen, the lad wrote to Nike sharing his dilemma.
His email reached innovative Nike designer Tobie Hatfield who invited the teen to help design a hands-free trainer.
Over eight years of hard work the brand who market themselves as “being the forerunner in producing athletic shoes that will make the difference in the quality of so many lives” have launched the Nike Go FlyEase sneakers which don’t require the use of hands or laces.
The shoes have a tension band that snaps into place when a foot is placed inside, to take them off all that is needed is stepping on the heel to release the tension.
Walzer was born two months premature with underdeveloped lungs, doctors told his family he would never be able to walk, but he has proved them wrong.
In 2012 he wrote to Nike saying: “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.”
Three years later Walzer, amazed the shoe company had taken his thoughts into consideration, said in a video: “I knew what I was doing was, in football terms, ‘a Hail Mary,’ and to be quite honest I had very low expectations. I was expecting a very polite letter back in recognition of my request. There are not enough ‘thank yous’ in the world to express my undying gratitude.”
Announcing their new accessible range Nike said: “In the Nike Go FlyEase, this translates to serving the broadest range of active lifestyles possible — whether the wearer is champion fencer Bebe Vio, a student racing to class or a parent with their hands full.”
American Paralympian Sarah Reinertsen was a member of the FlyEase design team. She told CBS News: “If you design for the most extreme needs, then you’re unlocking benefits for everybody.
“If a shoe works for someone who has no hands, then it will work for people who have two hands.”
Nike Go FlyEase shoes go on sale Feb. 15 for $120 “for subscribers of the free membership program on Nike’s website,” with “broader availability” planned for later this year.
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