Best of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games broadcast highlights a huge victory for Pierce Footwear. And athletes.

On a warm mid-summer afternoon last weekend, ABC stations across America gave us all a chance to relive the exciting and emotional scenes from the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. In addition to capturing many thrilling competitions, the two-hour “Best of” program featured a powerful segment on the thorough health screenings given to the athletes before the games began. For all 2,000 of them, those screenings included a fitting for a free pair of Pierce T2s, the revolutionary performance shoe with no laces or tongues.

For most of us, getting a new pair of shoes is a happy occasion. It puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step. But for an athlete with a physical disability that makes tying laces nearly impossible, receiving a brand new pair of Pierce T2s can be positively life-changing.

Case in point: upon seeing the brilliant orange shoes with easily adjustable purple latches for the first time, one Team USA athlete commented, “You mean we don’t have to tie our laces or nothing?!”

After it sunk in what this meant to her future athletic endeavors and her daily routine, the young woman broke out in spontaneous laughter and tears of joy.

No more agony of de feet

“Initially, I created laceless athletic shoes to help shorten my duathlon transition times,” said George Pierce, Founder and CEO of Pierce Footwear. “I had no idea they would have such a profound impact on people with disabilities, arthritis and back problems.”

Thanks to Pierce Footwear and Special Olympics, more than 2,000 athletes now have a pair of high-performance athletic shoes that not only is easy to put on, but perfectly sized for their feet. That in itself would be a first for many of these athletes who come from impoverished homes.

“Seeing the looks on the faces of the athletes and receiving countless hugs because of our shoes is something that will inspire me forever,” said Pierce.

At the end of the World Winter Games broadcast, Special Olympics organizers announced that preparations are already under way for the 2018 World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, where more than 7,000 athletes will convene.

Will Pierce Footwear be there to make all of those feet happy? Stay tuned to find out.