Nike and Doernbecher Children's Hospital - based in Portland, Ore. - have teamed up for the second annual Doernbecher Freestyle project, which provides the opportunity for artistically inclined young patients battling serious illness to design Nike footwear. Working with Nike designers, the patients enjoy complete creative control as they are taken through the process of footwear design: choosing styles and material, and experimenting with color and patterns to create a complete line of Nike footwear.
But this project goes beyond giving budding designers the chance to make a bold fashion statement - it is also a unique fundraising partnership with Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Oregon's premier pediatric medical center. The 2006 Doernbecher Freestyle collection will be available for purchase at www.niketown.com and at Niketown stores nationwide to raise proceeds that will benefit research, health care for uninsured children and new advances in medical technology at Doernbecher. In its inaugural year, the program raised $140,000 for the hospital.
From sports to wildlife to personal outlook on life, the young designers derived their creative inspiration from a number of places. Working with Nike designers, the kids built their creations using current Nike footwear styles. Designs were adorned with everything from lightning bolts to faux fur to shimmering gold, resulting in a limited-edition line of uniquely reinterpreted shoes. In all, the line will include a total of five running and basketball styles.
With their brilliant colors and in-your-face patterns, the shoes reflect the personalities of their young designers. These talented kids represent a cross-section of the 56,500 children from Oregon and beyond who receive care each year at Doernbecher - the region's most comprehensive pediatric health center. Ranging in age from 13 to 20, this year's designers have survived cancer, neurosurgery, spina bifida, heart surgery and cystic fibrosis. Together, they have created a shoe line that offers thoughtful and creative designs:
* Sam Bishop, 13, a brain tumor survivor, pays homage to his beloved University of Oregon Ducks with a yellow-green-and-duck-feet-bedecked version of the Nike Shox Bomber basketball shoe.
* Randi Helkamp, 14, a spina bifida patient, creates a bold version of the Nike Air Total Package basketball shoe with faux leopard skin and red patent leather inspired by her passion for animals.
* Ken Schroder, 20, a cystic fibrosis patient, credits the hot rod flames on his Air Max Rival running shoes to his pedal-to-the-metal attitude toward life.
* Hartley Kelly, 14, a neurosurgery survivor, let her love of the great outdoors shine through in her fluorescent green and blue Air Pegasus 2005 running shoes.
* Erin Gray, 18, a cardiology patient, designed a purple, crimson and white Air Pegasus 2005 running shoe, a nod to her school colors and athletic pursuit as a distance runner at the university she attends.
Priced from $70 to $135, the shoes are available in women's sizes 5 to 12 and men's sizes 6 to 15.
Sue Nicol, executive director of the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation, said the program is remarkable on multiple levels. It is simultaneously an effective fundraising program, an uplifting opportunity for kids who have battled serious medical conditions, and a source of national recognition for Doernbecher's high-quality programs. But in the world of philanthropy, she said, Freestyle also serves as "a fantastic model for how a nonprofit can benefit from a strong relationship with its board members."
Originally proposed by Doernbecher Foundation Board Member Michael Doherty, Nike's Global Presentation Creative Director, the program has proved to be equally rewarding to Nike and the designers who participate. Nike designer Marcus Tayui has worked on the project since its inception. "The best thing here is that we learn just as much from the kids as they learn from us. The ideas generated by these fledgling designers have helped change the way I design shoes," he said. "They created color pairings and design ideas that I had never considered. We each got something rewarding from the experience."
(Note to Editors: high-resolution photos of the shoes are available upon request.)
Doernbecher 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. Doernbecher provides 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. The Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation is a 501(c) (3) organization that exists to secure private philanthropic support for Doernbecher Children's Hospital at OHSU. The foundation raises funds from individuals, companies, foundations and organizations, and invests and manages gifts in accordance with donors' wishes.
NIKE, Inc. based in Beaverton, Ore., 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.