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Doernbecher Freestyle: 15 years of sole, nearly $24 million raised

One-of-a-kind program releases six new patient-designed Nike shoe and apparel collections, reaches new fundraising milestone to benefit OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital
Six children
2018 Doernbecher Freestyle patient-designers. (Nike)

“My shoe is about what I’ve lived through, how much my family has supported me, and how much I love them,” said 16-year-old Kirsten Brown to a standing-room-only crowd inside the Tiger Woods Center at the Nike World Headquarters.

Kirsten, a heart transplant recipient and stroke survivor, is one of Nike’s newest shoe and apparel designers. At the 15th annual Doernbecher Freestyle auction and gala, the sale of her shoe helped push the program’s fundraising total over the $20 million-mark, 100 percent of which benefits OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Doernbecher Freestyle started as a casual, dinner-time brainstorming session between Michael Doherty, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation board member and former Nike Creative Director, and his son, Connor. Fifteen incredible years later, the program’s initial concept – “What if Doernbecher patients designed shoes to benefit the hospital?” – continues to grow.

2018 Doernbecher Freestyle collection. (Nike)

Since its inception in 2004, Doernbecher Freestyle has produced 91 unique collections – including shoes, hoodies, socks and backpacks – as well as a University of Oregon Ducks football uniform, all designed by young OHSU Doernbecher patients. With the help of hundreds of dedicated Nike designers and developers, each unique design tells a patient’s personal story of bravery, creativity, gratitude and hope.

“I remember the very first year,” recalls Doherty. “About 175 people attended, and we raised $60,000 for the hospital. It was enough to keep us going, and here we are today, celebrating 15 years of the Freestyle program, 700 attendees and millions of dollars raised to help ensure the best possible care for children everywhere.”

During Saturday’s auction, Kirsten and her fellow 2018 patient-designers – Aiden, Chloe, Donovon, Joey and Payton – together raised $1.3 million, bringing the program’s cumulative total to $23.7 million raised for the children’s hospital.

“Doernbecher Freestyle leads to new treatments and better care for kids. It helps to advance medical research, and support the work of pediatric specialists at the hospital, so that we can provide the highest level of care to children when they need it most,” said Sadie Williams, executive director of the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation. “We are so grateful to Nike for their 15-year partnership and their dedication to the health and well-being of children.”

Adult and youth sizes of the six 2018 Doernbecher Freestyle shoes will be available for purchase Friday, Dec. 14, in  SNKRS North America. The full apparel collection will launch Saturday, Dec. 15, on and at select Nike retail and partner stores.


Introducing the 2018 Doernbecher Freestyle Collection


Aiden Barber

Aiden holding shoe

Age: 9
Hometown: White City, Oregon
Diagnosis: Brain vascular malformation
Collection: Air Max 270, hoodie, backpack

Aiden’s Air Max 270 is a tribute to all of the special people in his life, particularly his cousin currently serving in the U.S. Army. His camouflage design features an image of his brain, as well as the initials “A.B,” which he shares with big sister Abigail, who is exactly one year older (they also share the same birth date!)

Joey Bates

Kid holding shoe

Age: 12
Hometown: Scappoose, Oregon
Diagnosis: Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Collection: Nike SB Zoom Dunk Pro Low, hoodie, backpack

Joey’s SB Dunk Pro Low is a canvas for expressing his passion for Star Wars and his love of chicken. The green-and-gold color scheme is a tribute to his favorite athlete: Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers.

Kirsten Brown

Kid holding shoe

Age: 16
Hometown: Salem, Oregon
Diagnosis: Stroke, heart transplant
Collection: Air Max 97, hoodie, T-shirt

Kirsten is a survivor, which is boldly expressed by the graphics on her Air Max 97. A green ribbon, signifying heart transplant awareness, and a red ribbon, representing stroke awareness, adorn the shoe’s outsoles.

Donovon Dinneen

Kid holding shoe

Age: 11
Hometown: Riddle, Oregon
Diagnosis: Meningococcal infection and kidney transplant
Collection: Air Jordan XV, hoodie, backpack

Cloaked in black, dragon scale-embossed suede, with gold metallic accents, Donovon’s Air Jordan XV is a tribute to his personal strength and his favorite anime series. The sockliner features Donovon’s alter ego, Donoku, who possesses the power of protection.

Payton Fentress

Kid holding shoe

Age: 12
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Diagnosis: Crohn's disease and colitis
Collection: Nike Zoom Fly SP, T-shirt, hat

A true sports fan, Payton’s colorful Zoom Fly SP is an homage to his favorite professional teams. The design features key sports moments, such as the championship dates of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Chicago Cubs.

Chloe Swientek

Kid holding shoes

Age: 10
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Diagnosis: Cystic fibrosis
Collection: Air Force 1 Low, hoodie, hat

Chloe’s design tells her journey of living with cystic fibrosis. The word “breathe” is featured on the swoosh of her Air Force 1 Low; a pair of lungs appears in the sockliner; and on the midsole, her greatest wish: “Cure CF.”

Learn more about the 2018 Doernbecher Freestyle designs at Nike News. Find out how philanthropy benefits OHSU Doernbecher here.

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