Back in 2003, Michael Doherty, Nike's Creative Director, Global Brand Presentation, had joined the board at the OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation and was seeking to raise awareness of the hospital. His son Connor suggested engaging the imagination of the hospital's young patients by having them design their own Nike sneakers, and the Doernbecher Freestyle program was born. For 2016, the Doernbecher Freestyle patient-designers are Corwin Carr (12), Andy Grass (11), Chehayla Hyatt (10), Damien Phillips (10), Braylin Soon (10) and Chase Swearingen (14).
Ahead of the 2106 collection's launch, Nike has pulled back the curtains on the process behind the project.
December 2015: Nominations for the Doernbecher Freestyle program are submitted by OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital, kicking off the 11-month process.
February 2016: OHSU Doernbecher delivers its list of six select patient-designers to Nike. From there, Nike taps its team for volunteers across footwear design, apparel design and product development.
March 2016: The Nike design team meets with the kids at the hospital for the first time. There, the designers give each kid blank line art of different types of clothes to sketch out their initial ideas.
April 2016: The patient-designers and Nike reconvene at Nike HQ to begin refining their vision. As Nike doesn’t script the interactions, the amount of meetings they have is completely up to the kids and their families.
June 2016: The names of the six patient-designers are announced to the public, midway through the all-encompassing design and production process.
September 2016: The designs are finalized, and each patient-designer gets a first look at the product.
October 2016: Nike and the patient-designers are days away from revealing their one-of-a-kind collections to the public. On October 28, Nike and OHSU Doernbecher will host the Doernbecher Freestyle XIII unveiling and auction at the Portland Art Museum.