Nike launched a pair of "game-changing" shoes for people with disabilities, following an appeal by a teenager Matthew Walzer, who was born prematurely with a paralysis of the brain.
In 2012, Walzer wrote a letter to Nike CEO Mark Parker asking for help. He explained how his difficulties prevented him from carrying out the simple action of tying shoelaces.
AdvertisementAfter three years, Nike recently launched LeBron Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease Sneaker, which allows a person to put them on using one hand.
"Writing my letter three years ago, I honestly wasn't expecting much at all, maybe a polite letter from customer service. I couldn't be more proud that people will be able to have this long overdue independence," said Walzer.
The company has made a gift of the shoes to Matthew and on July 16 it announced that Flyease will be sold in limited quantities through its website.
Tobie Hatfield, Nike's director of athletic innovation, had been working for years to make sneakers more accessible. Inspired by the letter, Hatfield reached out and worked with Walzer to develop new Flyease technology.
Nike plans to send Flyease shoes to two US basketball teams in late July for Special Olympics World Summer Games 2015 in Los Angeles to see whether Flyease will meet the needs of athletes with other disabilities.