Shoes available starting November 11 at all US Niketown stores and nike.com.
Starting Thursday, Nov. 11, limited quantities of each footwear design will be available at Niketowns across the United States, as well as nike.com. Proceeds will benefit the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation. Nike and Doernbecher unveiled the shoes at a special event on Sep. 25 in Portland that raised more than $50,000 for the hospital's foundation.
The idea for the Doernbecher "Freestyle" shoes began when Michael Doherty, a creative director for Nike, had a vision to raise money in a fresh way, building on an idea from his teenaged son Connor. Doherty asked Nike footwear designer Marcus Tayui to create a shoe inspired by the children in the hospital that could be sold as a rare collector's item.
In March 2004, after Tayui met with children in the Kenneth W. Ford Northwest Children's Cancer Center at Doernbecher, he took the idea one step further and asked the children to use their own imaginations to create Nike shoes.
"The Doernbecher Freestyle project is an ideal collaboration for Nike and Doernbecher," said Doherty. "Nike contributes its expertise on building and marketing footwear, while these young designers channel their creativity to help raise money for the hospital, which in turn will help other children." Using a Nike shoe template, like a page out of a coloring book, and basic art supplies, Tayui and five Doernbecher patients sat down to see what their vision for shoes would be.
Some of the children were still undergoing treatment, like 10-year-old brain cancer survivor Laurie Miller of Turner, Ore., who chose a sea-life motif for her shoe; and 13-year-old Michael Libro of Gladstone, Ore., who won his battle against leukemia and designed a shoe with a sole that glows in the dark. The excitement of creating their own Nike shoe boosted their spirits and cheered them up on sad days.
"It was truly a free form of creation," said Marcus Tayui. "I have a new definition of bravery." Marcus added that this experience would even change the way he designs shoes. "They created color pairings and design ideas that I had never considered. We each got something rewarding from the experience."
Tayui also learned another valuable lesson - these children may be battling cancer, but beyond that they are no different from any other children who enjoy drawing, coloring, laughing and just being kids.
The children were inspired by different elements of life, their imaginations and the materials they had to work with. The oldest of the group, 18-year-old Krystal Salsky of Milwaukie, Ore., didn't let her battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma hinder her idea for a fashion statement that included this year's hottest color, pink.
The inspiration for 12-year-old Daymon Abbott of Hillsboro, Ore, for his camouflage shoe was Dallas, his younger brother and life-saving bone marrow donor. And 15-year-old Leah Heilman-Pollack of Corvallis, Ore., who has been battling two forms of cancer, chose an exotic flower theme after visiting the Great Barrier Reef on vacation.
"This project was a very special event in the lives of these remarkable children," said H. Stacy Nicholson, M.D., M.P.H., director of Doernbecher's Kenneth W. Ford Northwest Children's Cancer Center and pediatric neuro-oncologist.
"The joy that these children exhibited while working with Marcus and then showing the finished shoes was very powerful," Nicholson added. "We are here to serve these children; I must say it is particularly moving that they are so enthusiastic about a project that gives back to our hospital."
The camouflage shoe designed by Daymon will retail for $70, while Laurie's sea life shoe will retail for $35. The shoes designed by Michael, Leah and Krystal each will retail for $65. Laurie's shoe will be sold only in youth sizes 2Y-7Y; the other four designs will run in youth sizes 4Y-7Y and adult sizes 6-13.
Nike is not releasing the specific number of shoes that are being created for this fund-raising effort, but estimates that more than $100,000 will be raised for the Doernbecher Foundation if all of the limited edition shoes are sold.
This project touches more lives than those of the five artists. The Doernbecher Foundation will use the money raised by the sale of these shoes at Niketowns to support research, health care for uninsured children and new advances in medical technology.
About Doernbecher Children's Hospital FoundationDoernbecher Children's Hospital, an integral part of Oregon Health & Science University, is a world-class academic health center that cares for children from around the United States. Based in Portland, Ore., Doernbecher provides children from all corners of the country with outstanding cancer treatment, specialized neurology care, heart surgery with some of the best success rates in the nation, and care in many other specialties of pediatrics. These children receive considerable support from the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation, which helps the hospital foster valuable partnerships and provides financial assistance. Together, they improve the well-being of children ... because every child deserves the best.
About NikeNIKE, Inc., based in Beaverton, Oregon is the world's leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly owned Nike subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; Bauer NIKE Hockey Inc., a leading designer and distributor of hockey equipment; Cole Haan, a leading designer and marketer of luxury shoes, handbags, accessories and coats; Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories and Exeter Brands Group LLC, which designs and markets athletic footwear and apparel for the value retail channel.