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Many of us take our ability to perform some of the simplest tasks for granted. For example, when was the last time you thought about how fortunate you were to be able to tie your shoes? Unfortunately, for many people diagnosed with a condition like cerebral palsy — which may result from medical negligence during pregnancy or serious errors before, during or after delivery — this is simply not an option.
In a story that may provide hope for parents of children diagnosed with the life-altering condition, a Florida teenager with cerebral palsy is now seeking to change this reality one viral posting and one letter at a time.
16-year-old Matthew was born two months premature back in 1995, weighing less than three pounds. Unfortunately, since his lungs were not fully developed at this time, he suffered oxygen deprivation and was ultimately diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
According to Matthew, while the condition has affected him physically, he is still able to walk independently around his home and otherwise get around on crutches. In addition, he has a grade point average of 3.9 out of 4, takes advanced placement classes and is planning to attend college to study journalism.
There is one thing, however, that Matt has indicated needs to change in his life: his inability to tie his shoes.
The aspiring journalist, who has flexibility in only one hand, recently took to his blog to express his frustration.
“At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. I find this extremely frustrating, and at times, embarrassing,” he wrote. “My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day.”
As it turns out, this wasn’t just an ordinary blog post, it was part of a letter that Matthew penned and posted to Nike CEO Mark Parker asking his company to consider making an effective athletic shoe for disabled people that could close without laces.
In addition to posting the letter, Matthew has launched a full-blown campaign, even enlisting the help of the extremely popular sneaker blog Nice Kicks to help spread the word. Here, the blog is promising that every time someone posts a message on their Twitter account with the hashtag #NikeLetter, it will send a postcard to the shoe giant’s corporate headquarters signed by the Twitter user.
While it remains to be seen whether Nike will honor Matthew’s request, his campaign is nothing short of inspirational. It points out two very important things: the deep and pervasive impact that a condition like cerebral palsy can have on an individual’s life, and the fact that with support, quality medical care and therapy, those with cerebral palsy can often lead happy, productive lives.
“I believe everyone, no matter what their physical, economic, or social circumstances may be, deserves to call themselves an athlete,” wrote Matthew, “and deserves to have a sense of freedom and independence.”
Source: The Huffington Post, “Teen asks Nike to produce sneakers for people with cerebral palsy,” Eleanor Goldberg, Aug. 10, 2012