Nike’s innovative Flyease technology helps bring some normalcy to people with disabilities.


Tobie Hatfield and Matthew Walzer

19-year-old Matthew Walzer suffers from cerebral palsy, he faces many difficult challenges on a daily basis but his most difficult challenge is putting on and tying his shoes. Walzer say, “it’s embarrassing having your mom and dad tie your shoes or even be out with friends and ask them to help him out.” (source)

Walzer said by the age of 16 he wanted to put an end to the struggle and began writing multiple letters to Nike to create a shoe for the physically impaired. Walzer, at 16, didn’t have a clear vision on how he wanted his shoe problem fixed but he wanted change immediately.
After a couple tries over 3 years, Walzer’s letter fell into the hands of Nike CEO Mark Parker, who had seen the issue before and handed it off to his Senior Director of Athletic Innovation Tobie Hatfield. Hatfield, at the time, was working on an innovative way to create a shoe for the physically impaired.
Nike Flyease

Nike Flyease

With attempts and success in 2012 to form a shoe for amputees, the “Sarah Sole” was first for in shoe history to design an innovative shoe for the physically impaired athlete. Hatfield’s innovation came from athlete Sarah Reinertsen when she expressed the troubles that amputees deal with wearing tennis shoes.
Hatfield had to go through resources of knowledge of certain disabilities to create an advance shoe for all forms of disabilities. This hit home with Hatfield when a fellow employee Jeff Johnson suffered a stroke and he noticed the difficulties that Jeff went through.
With Walzer’s letter, success with Reinertsen and the motivation to help Johnson, Hatfield created Flyease technology, which, he says, allows for rear entry and no laces to tie, while still managing to provide support.

“Easy entry, easy access, easy adjustment, easy closure,” he said of the shoe.” (source)


Hatfield calls the shoe’s new style Flyease technology. The first set of Flylease technology is going to be used for the Zoom Soldier 8, a Lebron Nike signature (and Matthew Walzer’s favorite player). Hatfield uses the high top basketball shoe because of the ankle support and easy access for many physically impaired athletes and non-athletes to help them out with balance and leverage. The first set of Flylease technology will be set to release July 16th at certain stores across the U.S.flyease

Walzer is ecstatic to be able to buy a shoe from Nike and not have to worry about using specialized shoes. Also with the new Flyease innovation “The Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease will be sent to the two U.S. basketball teams participating in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles from July 25 through Aug. 2.” (source)


Hatfield has found a start for a solution in kicks for the disabled and is ready to release the new innovation of Flyease to many more Nike shoes in the near future.