It started with a letter. High school student Matthew Walzer was about to begin college, but his cerebral palsy made it virtually impossible for him to tie his shoe laces, prompting him to pen a letter to Nike. After all, starting college was daunting enough without having to worry about relying on others to tie his shoe laces. Matthew's letter eventually found its way to renowned Nike designer Tobie Hatfield, who had already been working with Special Olympians and Paralympians on similar challenges. Hatfield subsequently reached out to Walzer and began developing prototypes to address his specific needs. Eventually, FLYEASE was born, an innovation that takes the form of a wrap-around zipper solution, one that opens the back of the shoe near the heel-counter, resulting in easy on and off. Additionally, the system delivers a lockdown fit that obviates the need for traditional laces.
Now a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University, Matthew gets around campus in a pair of Nike Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE. (The two people who inspired the creation of the shoe -- Matthew and LeBron James -- would eventually meet to express their mutual admiration.) Later this month, two U.S. basketball teams participating in the 2015 Special Olympics will be sporting the shoe during the games. The LeBron Soldier 8 FLYEASE will be available July 16 in limited quantities on Nike.com.
Get inspired and check out the story behind Nike FLYEASE below.