Original Story (02/25/22): Since 2004, the ‘Doernbecher Freestyle’ program created in partnership between Nike and OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital has given over 100 young patient-designers the opportunity to create one-of-a-kind Nike footwear and apparel designs that are sold to benefit the hospital that saved their lives.

Over the years, the program has raised more than $30 million to help expand and support OHSU Doernbecher’s pioneering research and specialized care unavailable anywhere else in the region. 100% of the profits raised from the Doernbecher Freestyle program has been donated directly to the Children’s Hospital.

Nike has officially unveiled its Doernbecher Freestyle XVII collection, which includes seven unique designs across seven footwear silhouettes, as well as matching apparel and accessories to go along with each shoe. This year’s collection marks the first time that the patient-designers and Nike designers collaborated virtually to design their unique creations.

The auction for the Nike Doernbecher Freestyle XVII collection will run on eBay from from February 26th at 6pm CST to March 5th at 6pm CST. The products will also be available via Nike later this spring. Learn more about each of the seven talented Doernbecher Freestyle designers and their one-of-a-kind creations below.

Update (04/22/22): The Nike Doernbecher Freestyle XVII collection drops on April 30th on SNKRS, with early access to select styles going out starting today.

Name: Cidni O’ Brien
Age: 16
Hometown: Lebanon, Oregon
Diagnosis: Anomalous aortic origin of the left coronary artery
Shoe: Cidni’s Nike Air Force 1 Fontanka
Apparel/Equipment: Hat, Backpack

In 2018, Cidni was playing soccer when she felt a sudden pain in her chest. By the time she got to the sidelines, she was already going into cardiac arrest. Luckily, Cidni’s mom is a nurse and was able to perform CPR, essentially saving her daughter’s life.

Once she arrived at OHSU Doernbecher, Cidni was diagnosed with anomalous aortic origin of the left coronary artery. This means that a critical artery supplying blood to her heart was attached in the wrong place and Cidni’s heart wasn’t getting enough oxygen, causing dangerously poor cardiac function.

Six months and one major heart surgery later, Cidni was back on the pitch and playing to win for her high school team, the Lebanon Warriors. Her soccer-inspired Air Force 1 Fontanka pays tribute to her teammates, as well as all the beloved animals in her life. Spoiler alert: there are a LOT of them. Look closely at the laces to find the names for Tito (parrot); Bosco (donkey); Cheez-its, Thoober, and Jonathan (goats); Carol Bask-hen (chicken); Copper (dog); and Swim Shady (fish) – to list just a few!

Cidni’s horse, Tank, is featured on the left sockliner, while her mom, Nikki, gets a special mention on the other. “I got Tank because I didn’t know if I’d ever play soccer again, and he really helped cheer me up,” Cidni explained. “And my mom is my hero. I wouldn’t be here without her.”

Flip Cidni’s shoe over, and you’ll find another of her favorite things on the outsole: shrimp pasta. (See if you can find her name written in the noodles). “It’s my favorite thing to eat in the whole world, so of course it had to go on my shoe,” she laughed.

Now that Cidni is on the road to recovery, this active, good-natured girl is looking ahead to the future and planning to work with horses one day. In the meantime, she’ll continue to approach every day with the same positive attitude and fighting spirit that’s taken her this far in life.

Cidni’s Nike Air Force 1 Fontanka
Style Code: DR6259-600
Release Date: April 30, 2022
Price: $120 USD

Name: Catalina Vazquez
Age: 16
Hometown: Kelso, Washington
Diagnosis: Von Hippel-Lindau
Shoe: Catalina’s Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski
Apparel/Equipment: Hoodie, Backpack

Most kids dream of visiting Disneyland one day, or maybe Hawaii. Not Catalina Vazquez. This adventurous 16-year-old has her sights set on a far more exotic location: the Galapagos Islands. “I think it’s so cool that the turtles and iguanas there evolved so differently, because they were so isolated from everything else,” she explained.

Catalina’s love for the Galapagos Islands serves as the inspiration for her Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski. Hand-drawn flowers reflect her love of nature, while a butterfly graphic on the top symbolizes metamorphosis. “I’ve gone through a lot of changes, so I’m kind of like a butterfly,” she said.

Those changes have been a consistent part of Catalina’s life. At just three days old, she was diagnosed with Von Hippel-Lindau disease, a rare hereditary condition that causes tumors to grow in multiple organs throughout the body. The tumors have affected Catalina’s eyes, spinal cord and brain, requiring five surgeries to remove them.

Despite a difficult medical journey, like a butterfly, Catalina continues to emerge, and is determined to stay strong and bring awareness to her disease while she’s at it. That’s why you’ll find a DNA helix along the side of her shoe, as well as a powerful statement from the VHL Alliance: The cure is in our genes.

When she’s not designing shoes, Catalina loves expressing her creativity in other ways, like drawing realistic sketches of her favorite musicians. She also enjoys gardening and spending time with her three horses: Kit Kat, KT and Nugget. Catalina plans on following in her mom’s footsteps and going into massage therapy, but with a twist. “My mom works on humans, but I love horses, so I’m going to combine the two and become an equine massage therapist,” she smiled.

Catalina’s can-do outlook is captured on her collection’s label, which reads Inspire Others Daily. That’s something Catalina’s mom, Bethanie, says her daughter does constantly.  “No matter what challenges she’s facing, Catalina continues to push through,” she said. “I think she inspires a lot of people, including me.”

Catalina’s Nike SB Stefan Janoski
Style Code: DR6258-100
Release Date: April 30, 2022
Price: $85 USD

Name: Maylee Phelps
Age: 15
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Diagnosis: Spina bifida
Shoe: Maylee’s NikeCourt Zoom Vapor Cage 4
Apparel/Equipment: Hoodie, Backpack

Behind her quiet humility, Maylee Phelps is kind of a big deal.  She’s an accomplished junior wheelchair tennis player, currently ranked #11 in the world, and hopes to represent the United States in the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympics. Of course, that plan also includes a glimmer of gold.

Maylee was born with spina bifida, a condition where the spine and spinal cord fails to develop properly. She’s had a lot of surgeries at OHSU Doernbecher over the years to help improve her mobility and is now learning to use forearm crutches. “All my doctors are great,” she said. “They keep me playing wheelchair tennis and feeling good so I can keep doing the things I want to do.”

Some of those things include doing arts and crafts, playing with her pug Otis and baking. (Her specialty is raspberry macarons). Following her Paralympic career, Maylee plans to open her very own bakery, which is good news for humans and canines alike. “I want to make yummy treats for both people and dogs,” she smiled.

Maylee’s NikeCourt Zoom Vapor Cage 4 is loaded with personal touches, like hand-drawn stars and a cool marbled outsole featuring all her favorite colors. To help bring awareness to adaptive athletics, she included a spine graphic on the tongue as well as a blue spina bifida ribbon on the heel. Along the midsole, you’ll find a reminder to Keep Pushing no matter what life throws your way. “That phrase helps keep me motivated on the court and in life,” Maylee explained. “I thought it might help other people, too.”

Maylee’s NikeCourt Zoom Vapor Cage 4
Style Code: DR6253-500
Release Date: April 30, 2022
Price: $150 USD

Name: Michael Wilson
Age: 11
Hometown: Dayton, Oregon
Diagnosis: Krabbe disease
Shoe: Michael’s Air Jordan 5 Retro Low
Apparel/Equipment: Sweatshirt, T-Shirt

Two months after Michael “Spitfire” Wilson was born, he was diagnosed with Krabbe disease, a rare genetic condition that destroys the protective coating of nerve cells in the brain and nervous system. The disease is often fatal, but Michael had a hero in his corner: his older brother Marshall.

“Marshall had Krabbe disease too,” Michael explained. “Because of his symptoms and diagnosis, the doctors knew to watch for it in me when I was a baby and were able to catch it a lot sooner. My brother helped save my life. Five years after that, he grew his angel wings and passed away.”

Because Michael’s disease was diagnosed early, he was a candidate for a life-saving stem-cell cord blood transplant that can essentially stop Krabbe disease before it starts degenerative progression. The procedure was done at Doernbecher on February 10, 2011 and was 100% successful. “I call it my re-birth day,” Michael smiled.

Ten years later, Michael is just a happy kid with a serious love for airplanes, sharks and mac ‘n’ cheese. His high-flying Air Jordan 5 Retro Low proves it. A fierce shark glides along the side, while a mac ‘n’ cheese print is lasered throughout the suede upper, and cool interchangeable patches on the tongue let you customize your own style. When you’re ready to take the shoe off? Just pull the “eject” loop on the heel tab.

Michael’s motto – Take Flight – adorns the shoe, and represents his desire to be a pilot. “Sometimes when I get really down, I imagine flying through the air, dunking the basketball and winning the ultimate championship like Michael Jordan did,” he said excitedly. “When people see those words, I want it to make them feel powerful like me.”

Michael says he has a secret weapon that’s helped him get through even the toughest challenges: “I have a happy soul!” he exclaimed. Beyond feeling happy, he’s also profoundly grateful to his entire medical team at OHSU Doernbecher.

“They have done an amazing job taking care of me and fixing me up,” he said. “Without my team, I would not be in the world today.”

Michael’s Air Jordan 5 Low
Color: Hyper Royal/Orange
Style Code: DR6287-486
Release Date: April 30, 2022
Price: $200 USD

Name: Sam David Phelps
Age: 14
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Diagnosis: Spina bifida
Shoe: Sam David’s LeBron 19
Apparel/Equipment: Hoodie, Pant

Sam David isn’t the kind of kid to back down from a challenge. Like his sister and fellow Freestyle designer Maylee, he was born with spina bifida. But that doesn’t stop him from being a force to be reckoned with on and off the basketball court. His goal is to play on the U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team, but until then, he continues to sharpen his game playing for the Portland WheelBlazers.

Beyond basketball, this outgoing, energetic boy loves building elaborate Lego sets and practicing adaptive archery. “I’ve even gotten a bulls’ eye before!” he exclaimed proudly. While he’s extremely close with his family, he says his mom Rebecca is truly his hero. “Because I was adopted from China, I didn’t have a mom before,” he explained. “My mom is really kind and she’s always there to help my brothers and sisters whenever we need it.”

Sam David’s favorite athlete in the whole world is LeBron James, so needless to say, he was beyond thrilled to learn he would be designing one of King James’ signature shoes. “Actually, I was speechless!” he smiled.

His take on the LeBron 19 brings the bling with metallic gold panels, lighting bolts and his very own sporty wheelchair logo. It also features a very special detail: Nike’s first-ever airbag pod, which encapsulates Sam’s initials, his birth year and his go-to mantra: Never Back Down. “I want to inspire people to never quit on their dreams,” he said. “If you set your mind to it, there’s no limit to what you can do.”

Sam David and his family moved to Portland from Mississippi so that he and his sister could get state-of-the-art care from OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and Sam David says he’s so glad they did. “I was a little scared at first to meet all of my doctors and therapists,” he admitted. “But everyone has been so nice to me. I’m really thankful for all the time and energy they’ve taken to help me get better along my health journey.”

Sam David’s Nike LeBron 19 “Doernbecher”
Style Code: DR6255-001
Release Date: April 30, 2022
Price: $200 USD

Name: Ayman Wamala
Age: 13
Hometown: Salem, Oregon
Diagnosis: Sickle cell anemia
Shoe: Ayman’s Nike Blazer Mid ’77
Apparel/Equipment: Hoodie, Hat

In every origin story, the hero faces impossible challenges, only to conquer them and emerge better and stronger. The same goes for Ayman Wamala, which explains why he identifies so closely with powerful Anime characters and super heroes.

Ayman was born in Kenya and diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at an early age. “When it was really bad, it felt like I was getting hit with a sledgehammer all over my body,” he explained. When his family moved to Portland four years ago, Ayman began treatment at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “The doctors there gave me medicine, and I’ve definitely gotten better and stronger,” he said.

Ayman’s larger-than-life personality is a perfect fit for his career aspirations: He hopes to be an actor. He’s already started his resume by starring as one of the main characters in the stage production of Jumanji at his school.

When not on stage, Ayman enjoys playing soccer, cooking and sharpening his wilderness survival skills. “I like to be ready for anything,” he said proudly.

As for his signature Nike Blazer Mid ’77 Vintage, it’s powered by Ayman’s alter-ego: a mysterious, mind-reading character you’ll find on the tongue of the shoe. Triangular shapes represent protective armor, while subtle tiger stripes hold a secret: they glow bright blue in UV light.

The red blood cells on the outsole represent Ayman’s condition, while the words Hope, Strength and Perseverance around his logo help guide you on your daily travels. And because a little extra wisdom never hurts, the phrase Life is uncertain…make fast decisions in tough situations runs along the midsole. “I think that phrase relates to a lot of people’s lives,” Ayman said. “Whether it’s COVID-19 or some other unexpected challenge, you have to be able to adjust to it, then rise above it.”

Spoken like a true hero.

Ayman’s Nike Blazer Mid
Style Code: DX4982-001
Release Date: April 30, 2022
Price: $100 USD

Name: Zoe Taaffe
Age: 17
Hometown: Tualatin, Oregon
Diagnosis: Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
Shoe: Zoe’s Nike Dunk Low
Apparel/Equipment: Hoodie, Backpack

Zoe Taaffe is one in a million—literally. When she was a sophomore in high school, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes severe inflammation of the blood vessels. It’s so rare, only one in 1.2 million pediatric patients have it.

“For months, I had all these weird symptoms like random swelling, coughing, rashes and fever,” said Zoe. “But no one could connect the dots until I got to Doernbecher. They said, ‘Let’s admit you to the ICU and figure this out.’ And they did.”

Stabilizing Zoe required multiple blood transfusions, plasma transfusions, steroids and chemotherapy. While the long hospital stays weren’t much fun, they did provide Zoe with an up-close look at her chosen profession.

“I’ve always loved the medical field, and originally I wanted to be a surgeon,” Zoe explained. “But after being in the hospital, I decided that I want to be a nurse. My nursing team has a special place in my heart because they really showed me the meaning of kindness and compassion. That’s the kind of positivity I’d like to bring to the medical field.”

Zoe’s positivity is apparent everywhere on her Nike Dunk Low. At first glance, it just looks like a cool tribute to her favorite team, the Oregon Ducks. But look close, and you’ll notice Zoe’s name cleverly hidden in the zebra-like print. Look even closer and you’ll realize that it’s more than a zebra print; it’s a subtle nod to the stretch marks that the steroids created on Zoe’s body.

“Just like a zebra’s stripes, I believe that everyone is unique,” she said. “I’m also a huge advocate for body positivity on social media—young kids need to learn to love their bodies no matter what. This experience taught me that what you’re going through doesn’t define you—it’s what you do with it that counts.”

Zoe’s feel-good shoe also features a glow-in-the-dark outsole, an Oregon Duck-inspired nursing symbol on the sockliner, the word fearless on the laces and interchangeable Velcro Swooshes that let you change up your look.

Now that Zoe is able to manage her condition, she’s back to her favorite activities, like baking, writing music and leading her lacrosse team to more victories. Zoe is thrilled her signature shoe will help other kids like her.

“I think my shoe is a constant reminder that we’re all special in our own way, we all have rare qualities, and we’re all one in a million,” she said emphatically. “I hope it inspires people to be fearless and get out there to achieve whatever they want.”

Zoe’s Nike Dunk Low
Style Code: DR7305-100
Release Date: April 30, 2022
Price: $100 USD

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