Nike creates shoe specifically designed for people with disabili - KPTV - FOX 12

Nike creates shoe specifically designed for people with disabilities

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Matthew Walzer (Photo: Nike) Matthew Walzer (Photo: Nike)
LeBron Soldier 8 FLYEASE (Photo: Nike) LeBron Soldier 8 FLYEASE (Photo: Nike)
Matthew Walzer and Lebron James (Photo: Nike) Matthew Walzer and Lebron James (Photo: Nike)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

"My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day."

A teen's letter kicked off a three-year design process at Nike to create a shoe specifically for people with conditions that can make the seemingly simple task of putting on their shoes a daily source of frustration.

The result is the Nike FLYEASE.

The shoe has a wrap-around zipper that opens the back of the shoe near the heel, making it easier for people to slide their foot in and out.

The system provides "sufficient lockdown," according to Nike, and eliminates the need to tie traditional laces.

Nike said the design was initially inspired by a high school junior who sent the company a letter in the summer of 2012.

Matthew Walzer was born two months premature with under-developed lungs that led to cerebral palsy. While he overcame many of the physical limitations doctors predicted for him, tying his shoes was a constant challenge.

So, wanting to be truly independent in college, he sent Nike a letter. 

"I've worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I can only wear this type of shoe, because I need ankle support to walk. At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing," the letter said.

Not expecting much beyond possibly a polite letter in return, the teen was eventually invited to work directly with Nike designer Tobie Hatfield. They took a look at Velcro, zippers and cable dials in the creation of what would become the FLYEASE.

"While varying levels of mobility make it difficult to provide a universal solution, we feel this is a significant development for anyone who has ever struggled with independently securing their foot within Nike shoes," Hatfield said.

In late July, Nike is sending the Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE to two U.S. basketball teams participating in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, which run from July 25 to August 2.

More information: Nike.com.

Copyright 2015 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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