NIKE'S FLYEASE - a Cool New Shoe for Athletes With Disabilities
By Donice Muccio / December 1, 2015
Matthew Walzer now age 20, was a student of mine for about 2 years starting at age 7. Matthew has cerebral palsy, but his attitude even as a young boy was strong enough to believe in his dreams. An extremely bright student, he would ride our beautiful Mindkhi and we would talk and tell stories throughout the lesson. He always found the humor in everything we talked about which of course made me laugh right along with him. As a student, Matthew was wise beyond his years.
I distinctly remember him at such a young age, realizing he needed a sneaker that gave him ankle support that did not have laces since at age 8 he could not tie his own shoe. In my mind I knew with his determination he could make it happen. I enthusiastically cheered him on as he shared his unique and creative ideas.
As a 16 year old at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Matthew took a chance and wrote a letter to Nike, that to his surprise, found it's way eventually to Nike shoe designer Tobie Hatfield. In Matthew's letter to Nike he stated, "My dream is to go to a college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day. I've worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I can only wear this type of shoe, because I need the ankle support to walk.
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 trying to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing."
Mr. Hatfield was touched by Matthew's story and contacted Matthew. After they communicated, they began working together on prototypes. After 3 years the final design of the Nike FLYEASE was completed to specifications. Matthew was personally invited to Los Angeles to meet Mr. Hatfield. Little did Matthew know that he would also be meeting LeBron James.
When Matthew is at home in Parkland he feels a bit like a celebrity because people know him as the local who got to meet and spend time with LeBron James. Being the amazing young man Matthew has shown himself to be, what he wants to be known for is that he helped design a shoe that can help as many people as possible.
This is a story about vision, determination, perseverance and the desire to help others, letting nothing derail you. To see Matthew's story and the Nike FLYEASE development you may review the following video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaNM_T1d1as
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