Juan has always had a little shoe obsession.
“I love to shop online for shoes – basketball shoes, flashy shoes, any kind of shoe,” he said. “Shoes are important to me because my condition sometimes makes it hard for me to walk.”
Juan, who lives with myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the muscles responsible for breathing and moving his limbs, has spent many nights in the hospital dealing with doctors, transfusions and more. But he never let it get him down.
“I think that is why I like Nike so much, they say ‘Just Do It’ and that is what I think when my condition has me down,” said Juan. He liked the brand so much, he decided he had to meet the team in person and made a wish to visit the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
“I was so excited to go, and I kind of knew that I wanted to see how shoes were made and talk to them about how they come up with the designs and all the marketing behind the designs,” he shared.
He arrived in Oregon the day before his tour to give his body a chance to rest well so he could be ready to walk the campus and really spend as much time on site as possible. His hotel room included a surprise – Make-A-Wish Nike shoes for him to wear on his tour!
Juan was not really sure what all he would see the next day on his tour but was overwhelmed to see that he had a welcoming committee of employees outside the building, cheering him in.
“There were hundreds of people waiting outside for me and they call came up to say hello and welcome me,” said Juan. “It was pretty overwhelming in a good way.”
While on campus, Juan received a tour of “everything”, from where they designed shoes, to where they made shoes and even to the basketball courts that keep the staff’s minds moving.
“They let me practice on three of the courts and I loved how every building was devoted to an athlete and had all kinds of memorabilia about that player or that game,” said Juan. He also saw the history of Nike.
“To think of all they have accomplished when they were first sold out of a van,” he continued. “It was inspiring and made me think of all the things I want to do that I didn’t think I would be able to do before this trip.”
For Juan, the trip was more than a chance to see how his favorite shoes were made, it was about the feeling Nike gave him during the tour and especially when he left.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure what my wish would really be like, it was hard to create a vision of what I wanted to see but it was even more amazing being there in person,” said Juan. “I took a photo in front of their headquarters so I would never forget.”
He also has lots of swag that Nike sent home with Juan to both wear and display in his home.
“I love that shoes mean something special to people, that they can change your mind and your attitude,” he continued. “Now, after this tour, when I look at my Nike shoes, I know to never give up. That shoes can make a big difference – just like this wish did for me.”