FGCU grad an inspiration for new Nike hands-free shoe

An FGCU graduate served as the inspiration for Nike's Go FlyEase shoe, the first completely hands-free shoe.

Matthew Walzer was born with cerebral palsy, which affects his walking and motor skills.

“Shoe-tying was always pretty much impossible for me,” Walzer said. “My parents had to be the ones to put on my shoes.”

In 2012, Walzer, then 16 years old, wrote a letter to Nike asking them to create a shoe that can help people who have trouble putting on their shoes.

He wanted Nike to create a shoe for people with physical disabilities.

“We are a minority population and that gets overlooked as a minority. And so it's so important that our voices be heard,” Walzer said.

He posted the letter on Twitter, which reached Nike.

Walzer worked closely with Nike through the shoe's development. The initial will release of the Nike GO FlyEase will be for select Nike members, but the shoe will reach broader consumer availability for later this year, according to Nike's website.

“They would send me different rear entry zipper and Velcro prototypes and I would try them and give them my feedback on what can be improved,” Walzer said.

The new shoe is completely hands-free with no laces, no straps and no velcro.

“It opens up the door to so many more people having shoes that can change your life for the better,” Walzer said.

Walzer said he hopes his story can inspire others.

“You can't change anything if you're sitting on the sidelines,” he said.