16-Year-Old Matthew Waltzer’s Request For Cerebral Palsy-Friendly Shoes Goes Viral

Matthew Walzer, a 16-year-old Nike fan, wrote a letter to Nike requesting that they make a line of easy-to-fasten shoes for people with cerebral palsy, which he was diagnosed with as a child. He posted the letter to his blog yesterday with the goal of reaching Nike’s CEO, Mark Parker. Today, it looks like it might get there, thanks to Nice Kicks, a shoe blog run by Matt Halfhill, who has promised that for every tweet marked with the hashtag #NIKELETTER, he’ll send a postcard to Nike’s CEO.

Waltzer explains that he was born prematurely, and due to problems with his lung and brain development, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly afterwards. He’s exceeded doctors’ expectations–he’s able to speak, move and walk independently, and even writes for the sports and news section of his high school paper while maintaing a 3.9 grade point average. But, while he’s an avid Nike fan, it seems, he still has difficulty using their shoes. From his letter:

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 6′s. 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.

His request is that they make a line of shoes that offer similar support, without being difficult-to-lace.

Holding them to the ideals of their latest ad campaign–which insists that physical achievement isn’t exclusive to Olympic athletes, and that we all contain greatness–Waltzer goes on to ask Nike to fulfill even more customers’ dreams by creating a shoe line that serves everyone’s needs:

When I think of Nike, I think of one of America’s most innovative and forward thinking companies. Nike is always pushing the limits, making their shoes lighter, faster and stronger by using new materials, new designs and new technologies. This benefits people all around the world. Bill Bowerman said it best, “If you have a body you are an athlete.” I believe everyone, no matter what their physical, economic, or social circumstances may be, deserves to call themselves an athlete, and deserves to have a sense of freedom and independence.

If Nike would design and produce basketball and running shoes with moderate support and some kind of closure system that could be used by everyone, Nike could create a shoe line that attracts people that face the same physical challenges I did and still do, yet it could still be possible for anyone to wear them.

If that doesn’t tug on your heartstrings, I don’t know what will. We hope this gets to Nike’s CEO; to help, retweet the Nice Kicks blog post with a video explaining the campaign, to get Nice Kicks to send an orange postcard signed by you, with a link to Waltzer’s letter.

Photo: Nice Kicks

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    • fig

      Thanks for sharing this – this kid is great!

    • Becca

      Shared on FB and Twitter! Good luck and I am squarely in your corner! Keep us up to date!

    • Andi

      Sent this on to an old friend who works in Nike Footwear.

    • Amy Kindel

      So very well stated, Matthew and such a concern for not only individuals with CP, but also those with other physical and developmental disabilities. My daughters both have autism and also can basically dress themselves…except for tying their shoes! Thanks for getting this idea to Nike, and I hope they come through for all of those facing physical/developmental challenges!