This College Sophomore Inspired Nike To Design A Shoe For People With Disabilities

For many fortunate people, tying your shoes is not something you give much thought to. Such is not the case, though, for many people with physical challenges—getting in and out of shoes and making sure they're secure pose challenges every day. One person who knows this struggle is Matthew Walzer, a college sophomore with Cerebral Palsy.

In 2012, Walzer was preparing for college, but worried that he'd have to rely on someone to tie his shoes for him. He wrote to Nike, telling the brand there was a need for "basketball and running shoes with moderate support and some kind of closure system that could be used by everyone." Nike received his letter and passed it on to designer Tobie Hatfield, who had been working on shoe designs that made getting in and out of shoes easier.


Hatfield and Walzer worked together and, over the course of three years, developed the Nike FLYEASE, which provides ample support while eliminating the need for traditional laces. Nike has added the design to two of its existing sneakers, including the Nike Zoom Soldier, aka the shoe associated with LeBron James, who happens to be Walzer's favorite player.

Thanks to Hatfield, Walzer, and James, Nike will be releasing the LeBron Solider 8 FLYEASE on July 16 in limited quantities, with more designs being worked on.

To read the full inspiring—and totally fascinating!—story, head over to Nike.