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Unable to tie shoes, a 16-year-old with cerebral palsy wrote to Nike. They came through big time.

When people say, "It never hurts to ask," this is probably what they're talking about.

For decades, Nike has been one of the biggest names in the athletic shoe game.

Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, and dozens of other premier athletes have all at one time or another had high-end, custom apparel designed for them by the team at Nike.


Here's Michael Jordan on the court during a 1992 playoff game, sporting his namesake sneaker. Photo by Jonathan Daniel /Allsport/Getty Images.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Nike's new Flyease shoe line was inspired by a person, too.

But this time, the person behind the shoe isn't a professional athlete. He doesn't even recreationally play basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, volleyball, or anything like that.

He's just a regular guy named Matthew Walzer who reached out to the company for some help.

Three years ago, Matthew wrote a letter to Nike, explaining that as the result of having cerebral palsy, he's not able to tie shoes.

His letter, written when he was 16, reads in part (emphasis added):

"Out of all the challenges I have overcome in my life, there is one that I am still trying to master, tying my shoes. Cerebral palsy stiffens the muscles in the body. As a result I have flexibility in only one of my hands which makes it impossible for me to tie my shoes. My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes everyday.

I've worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I can only wear this type of shoe because I need ankle support to walk. I am currently wearing the Lunar hyper gamer and LeBron Zoom Soldier 6's. 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.

I know that Nike makes slip-ons, sandals and other types of shoes. However, I and many other physically challenged people are unable to wear them due to a lack of support. When I think of Nike, I think of one of America's most innovative and forward thinking companies. Nike is always pushing the limits, making their shoes lighter, faster and stronger by using new materials, new designs and new technologies. This benefits people all around the world. Bill Bowerman said it best, 'If you have a body you are an athlete.' I believe everyone, no matter what their physical, economic, or social circumstances may be, deserves to call themselves an athlete, and deserves to have a sense of freedom and independence."


All images via Nike Basketball and Swanson Studio.

To Matthew's surprise, Nike was on board.

They were so on board, in fact, that they decided to design custom shoes just for him. Nike designer Tobie Hatfield got hold of Matthew's letter and began working with him to create the shoe right away.

The shoes use an innovative zipper design that can be operated with one hand.

It works like a slip-on but then wraps around the back, making it easy to put it on with just one hand. This was awesome for Matthew.


Tobie and Matthew continued to work together, refining the design so other people facing similar challenges could benefit.

Tobie invited Matthew to come in and check out the final version of the Flyease shoes, which, as Matthew notes in the video below, is great because it's a shoe that works just as well even for people who aren't limited to using just one hand for putting on shoes.

And while he was there, Matthew even had a chance to meet one of his heroes: LeBron James. He seemed pretty excited, to say the least.

The whole experience seems to be a major win for both Matthew and Nike.

While not everyone will be able to afford the shoes — they are Nikes after all — this is still a positive step toward more inclusive branding. Companies design products to make money, and often the reason they don't make products for “niche" markets is because they're afraid of losing money.

But with this move, Nike proves that you can create a product designed for the needs of a smaller community that has mass appeal as well. And while Nike isn't a perfect company (few companies are), they listened, and they helped solve a problem that they maybe didn't even know existed. This story has a positive outcome for everyone involved.

This is how we help make the world a better place — by learning about each others' struggles and asking the very simple question, "What can I do to help?" You never know when you'll be in the position to make someone else's life a whole lot easier.

You can learn more about the Flyease story by watching this video or by heading over to Nike's website.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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