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Faith in Humanity: Teenager inspires Nike to create shoe for people with disabilities

Nearly three years ago, Matthew Walzer, a teenager with cerebral palsy, wrote to Nike with an incredible idea: develop a comfortable and supportive shoe that is easy for people with disabilities to put on and take off.

“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,” Walzer wrote in the viral letter back in 2012.

Recently, Nike took that idea and made it a reality, according to

The new Nike Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE shoes are the brainchild of Walzer and Nike designer Tobie Hatfield — one that has been three years in the making.

Hatfield and Walzer worked very closely together to develop a shoe that would be easily worn by people with various degrees of mobility, with the teenager even testing out various prototypes to provide feedback.

The shoes use a wrap-around zipper system to make the shoe easily accessible. The design also implements the same ankle support system found in Nike’s Lebron James’s line — the same man who also happens to be Walzer’s favorite basketball player.

“When I put the shoes on every morning, they give the greatest sense of independence and accomplishment I have ever felt in my life,” Walzer said to Nike at the time.

The shoes will be available online in limited quantity on July 16.