Justin Gallegos has cerebral palsy — a condition that affects body movement and muscle coordination — but that hasn’t stopped the University of Oregon junior from pursuing his dream of breaking the two-hour barrier in a half marathon.
According to Anne Francis of Running magazine, Gallegos used a walker as a child but was able to improve his gait enough to walk without one after physical therapy. As a freshman in high school, the Santa Clarita, California, native began running for the cross-country team and strove to run with the UO Track Club in college.
Seven years later, Gallegos has signed a three-year running contract with Nike to become the brand’s first professional athlete with cerebral palsy.
“Growing up with a disability, the thought of becoming a professional athlete is as I have said before like the thought of climbing Mt. Everest,” Gallegos said in an Instagram post. “It is definitely possible, but the odds are most definitely not in your favor! Hard work pays off!”