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#NikeLetterTeam reveals FLYEASE shoe, designed with help from FGCU student Matthew Walzer

“I was born two months premature with Cerebral Palsy,” Walzer said.

Walzer talked about the experiences he had encountered, from writing the first draft of his famous Nike Letter to CEO Mark Parker, to unboxing his first pair of custom Hyperdunk basketball shoes, made just for him, the day after his birthday.

Today, Walzer and Nike revealed that they will be releasing the redesigned custom-made shoes, named the LeBron Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE to the public on July 16,.

At 10:30 a.m., Walzer shared a link, The FLYEASE Journey. It goes straight to Nike’s website, showing a video-still of LeBron James with his arm around Walzer’s shoulder, a smile on both of their faces. The accompanying article tells of Walzer’s journey over the past three years.

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Waltzer (left) with Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day,” said Waltzer in his letter to Parker.

He went on to explain that his condition had made it impossible for him to tie his shoes. With only the use of his “one good hand,” Walzer became frustrated that he would not be able to have the independence he needed in order to go to school away from home. The urge for him to write to Nike’s CEO took over, and by putting the finished letter on his blog, Against All Odds, and sending the link to friends, Walzer became a hot topic almost instantly.

Now known as #NikeLetter, Walzer’s story found its way to Nike CEO Mark Parker and finally to Nike Designer, Tobie Hatfield. From there, proof of this successful journey is in the shoe itself, and for the first time in his life, Walzer was able to put on his shoes on himself.

“It was such an unbelievable feeling… It truly changed my life,” Walzer said.

By creating a shoe that provided the support and accessibility that Walzer needed, Hatfield was able to adapt new ideas to the original shoe and create FLYEASE. This innovative system creates a wrap-around zipper that opens the back of the shoe near the heel, making it effortless to slide your feet in and out.

In addition, the shoe has a lockdown method, eliminating the need to tie shoelaces.

“In talking to Matthew and many other athletes with disabilities, the ease of entry was just as important as the lacing solution,” said Hatfield in Nike’s article, The FLYEASE Journey. “While varying levels of mobility make it difficult to provide a universal solution, we feel this is a significant development for anyone who has ever struggled with independently securing their foot within Nike shoes.”

Nike’s idea “anyone with a body is an athlete,” means that these shoes will be available to the public for purchase just a few days after the release — but in limited quantities.

Through FLYEASE, Walzer has been able to meet his all-time favorite athlete, LeBron James, who shared matched admiration and honor that he could be a part of the process in making Walzer’s dream a reality. Walzer has also worked closely with Nike in order to over come his challenges and make it possible for others who have disabilities to be anything but limited.

About The Author

Allie Taylor

Allie Taylor is a rising senior in the journalism program, and has dedicated most of her life to writing (whether scooping stories on campus, or practicing her creative fiction). She can recite the entirety of Bo Burnham’s “What?” and loves marathons… of Netflix, of course. When Taylor is not in the newsroom, you can find her rehearsing with the cast and crew of S(He) Will Fade, drinking her weight in coffee at Starbucks or burrito-ing herself in a blanket in her dorm room.

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