Now in its 10th year, the Nike organized Doernbecher Freestyle Program not only raised more than $6 million to fund research expense, clinical care, and cutting edge medical equipments for Portland’s Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. But most importantly, the unique partnership between company and hospital empowered 58 young patients during its course and helped to alleviate their struggles against detrimental diseases.
First got its start in 2004 after a conversation between Michael Doherty, Global Creative Presentation Director of Nike and a member of Board of Directors at Doernbecher Foundation, and his son Connor. Then a high school sophomore and an avid sneaker collector, Connor suggested an online offering of rare, exclusive Nike editions as a way to raise money for the hospital. That initial concept quickly blossomed into a collaborative effort, where OHSU Doernbecher patients and a team of Nike designers, get to see their designs, personalized with their experiences, from sketches to actual sneakers.
In celebration of the program’s 10th anniversary, Mark Smith, Global Product Creative Director of Nike and a Doernbecher Freestyle contributor, designed a special Nike Dunk High 10th Anniversary Collection. Highlighted throughout with glow-in-the-dark features in reference to OHSU Doernbecher patients’ unyielding strength, the Nike Dunk High also have every patients’ names from the 10 years of Doernbecher Freestyle Program. Two sets of this special collection will take part in special charity auctions at Portland and New York City, with all proceeds going to the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Meanwhile, the 2013 Doernbecher Freestyle Collection from Nike, in both footwear and matching apparel, will be available at NikeStore.com along with select Nike retail locations across the country later this Fall.
Here are this year’s entries to the Nike Doernbecher Freestyle Program…
Elijah Diggins, 14
Elijah likes to play baseball and says he’s a pretty good pitcher. His baseball team actually won the state championship and his dad is quick to point out all the boards that have been knocked out of their garden shed by his son’s killer throw. Behind his modesty is a tenacious kid with untold reserves of strength who was put to the test last year when he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia and underwent a tough course of chemo. When faced with the opportunity to tell his story through the Nike Air Foamposite, Elijah poured his heart into it. His design features his very own smiley-face logo, which turns into his initials when viewed sideways. The fiery red and black palette is a tribute to his favorite athlete, Lebron James. On the tongue, Japanese characters symbolize courage, along with Elijah’s signature. A chain-link graphic on the sockliner is taken straight from his most prized possession—a silver bracelet that was a gift from his parents when he began chemotherapy. For Elijah, his design is a very personal thank-you note to the place that he credits with saving his life. “When I was in the hospital, I kept thinking ‘Doernbecher has done so much for me—how am I going to give back?’”
Ross Hathaway, 11
Not only can Ross land a 180 on his skis and pull some pretty cool moves on his skateboard, he even has black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Pretty impressive for any kid—especially impressive for one who has lived with cystic fibrosis since he was in kindergarten. But instead of letting it slow him down, Ross and his family have thrown their energy into raising money for cystic fybrosis research. Now Ross is excited to share his passion and story with a far larger market—one that’s going to be clamoring for his Nike Zoom Stefan Janoski skate shoe. He says he carefully considered his audience when coming up with the design. “As a skater, I thought a lot about how it would look against the board,” he explained. The result is a shoe that Janoski himself would be proud to roll in. The uppers feature dimensional pops of color inspired by the crystals in Ross’ rock collection. You’ll find a pair of lungs on the outsole; inside, a digital rose is a nod to 65 Roses, (which is what some kids call their disease since it’s easier to pronounce.) And just for good measure, Ross threw a couple of palm trees around the logo to reflect his love of tropical places.