KENT, Wash. — Billy Price was excited about his future when he began his freshman year at the University of Washington. But just two weeks in the 19-year-old fell from a third-floor window.
"I don't really remember it. I don't remember it at all, actually. Because as I say, I went to bed and woke up outside. But yeah, it's kind of a bummer. But in that moment, my life changed immediately," said Billy.
The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Over the years he learned to adapt to almost any challenge presented to him. But there was one thing he couldn't conquer: shoes.
"That was the one piece of the puzzle I could not sort out. And because there really wasn't anything on the market that works for me, frankly, I just kind of gave up."
Billy explained his frustration to his friend and budding shoe entrepreneur Darin Donaldson who made him a prototype shoe based on Billy's ideas.
"I broke my neck at 18. I put my shoes on again independently at 36. So literally half a lifetime later, I was doing something I could never, I couldn't do being a wheelchair user. So then the question was like, you know what, this is so special, we have to share this."
They not only shared it, they turned their shoes into a business called, Billy Footwear.
"When they first see the shoe, like oh my gosh, that's a shoe. Because they hear the back story behind it. They think, like one of the medical side or more on the adaptive side. And then they look at it like, Oh, my gosh, this is a real shoe. It's like, well, yeah."
These shoes don't lace up, they zip up.
"The zipper goes on the outside around the toe of the hole up or folds over. You drop your foot in unobstructed and then you can zip it up, and then you're good to go."
The shoes not only serve a function, they're also fashionable as well.
"We want to be able to create something that can be on the shelves of Nordstrom, be on the shelves at Zappos be on the shelves at any sort of mom-and-pop store around the country. So we took that into consideration with our designs, and we kind of nailed it."
Now Billy Footwear is shipped around the world. And in return, they hear from their customers about the difference the shoes have made in their lives.
"That type of stuff that just warms my heart to the core, and you want to talk about a motivator to keep moving forward. That definitely is fuel."
You can read more about Billy Footwear in the April issue of 425 Magazine.