(WHDH) — Nike unveiled its newest innovation this week — a hands-free sneaker.
The new designs use no lace, hands-free technology to provide a sense of independence for those living with disabilities.
“The only thing stopping me from going away and living on my own was not being able to tie my shoes,” Matthew Walzer told 7NEWS.
Walzer, a life-long sneaker fan who was born with cerebral palsy is the inspiration behind the “FlyEase” collection.
“No other company has done what Nike has done. No other footwear brand has stepped up and said hey we’re going to make an accessible shoe,” he said.
Walzer struggles with balance and fine motor skills. He said he always wanted to own accessible and fashionable footwear but was never able to find it.
“I would spend hours upon hours in Champs, and Footlocker and Finish Line trying to find shoes that were supportive enough and easy enough for my parents to get on my feet,” he explained.
So, back in 2012, he took matters into his own hands and wrote a viral letter to Nike asking them to design a hands-free shoe.
The apparel company quickly responded.
“It was something that I could not have imagined,” Walzer said. “I mean this letter was something that I started in the drafts in the notes app on my phone.”
Over the course of three years, Walzer helped to brainstorm ideas, test prototypes, and teach the company more about his disability. By the end, an accessible line was launched.
“I really don’t know if the footwear landscape would’ve looked much different in 2012 than it does now if I hadn’t wrote that letter and if Nike hadn’t listened,” he said.
Although Walzer has not had the chance to try on the newest designs now making headlines, he said he is proud to have inspired change.
Now, he said he wants to encourage others to use their voice to make a difference.
“It doesn’t matter how big or small of a platform that you have,” he said. “Any individual can make a change and change the world for the better.”
The shoes will hit the market later this year.
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