Duck runner in the spotlight after getting Nike contract

Justin Gallegos

Prior to Oct. 8, few people outside of campus and a fraction of the running community likely knew of Justin Gallegos, a junior in the School of Journalism and Communication.

Gallegos, who has cerebral palsy and is a member of the UO Running Club, first gained some fame last spring when a story about his nearly successful effort to crack two hours in the Eugene Half Marathon was widely shared.

But that, as they say, was nothing.

On Oct. 8, Elevation 0m, a local production company founded by UO alum Travis Thompson, posted a video featuring Gallegos. It showed him finishing a local cross country race, and then being surprised by John Douglass, Nike’s insights director, presenting Gallegos with a contract that would make him the first professional Nike athlete with cerebral palsy.

The images of Gallegos’s heartfelt reaction went viral.

A tweet from the UO was seen nearly 76,000 times. A Sports Illustrated tweet was liked 144,000 times and retweeted by 61,500 accounts.

Gallegos’s story would be published in Runners World, USA Today and People, and on all the major TV networks, including NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox. It would be written about in Italy, Canada, Indonesia, Sweden, Poland, Australia, India, Nigeria and Brazil, among others. Disability advocacy groups have shared it.

In other words, Gallegos is an inspiration to countless others around the globe.

To learn a little bit more about Justin, watch this documentary created by journalism school faculty, staff and alumni, with help from Nike.