Inspired by Matthew Walzer (a teenager with cerebral palsy), the FLYEASE design features a wrap-around zipper that is easy to take on and off. Some people with disabilities have limited mobility for tying laces and/or putting shoes on and removing them. This easy on and off design can help more people feel confident and able to complete this task.
Walzer was previously unable to put on and secure his own shoes without the help of his parents. He now can proudly wear the Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE shoes around campus without worrying about that issue. He is now a sophomore at Floroda Gulf Coast University.
The design was first developed in 2012, but has been improved upon over the years by determined designer Tobie Hatfield. Every athlete deserves to have access to appropriate shoes and FLYEASE will help provide just that.
Says Hatfield, "In talking to Matthew and many other athletes with disabilities, the ease of entry was just as important as the lacing solution. 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."
Matthew Walzer was able to met his basketball hero, LeBron James, who also thinks of Walzer as a hero. Says LeBron: "Matthew inspired us at Nike to be able to bring something special that will not only be for himself but also for the masses. The shoe and the inspiration he gave us is going to go way beyond Nike, Matthew and myself. I am very honored and blessed that my shoe is part of the whole process. This is an unbelievable story, and Nike has done a great job of being able to create something that’s so incredible and will last a lifetime."
Current Zoom Soldier 8 and LeBron Soldier 8 FLYEASE designs are related to basketball. However, plans and designs for future styles are already underway for Hatfield and his team.