For the Love of the Shoes

I have written on this before, but I wanted to take a few minutes to talk again about the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and the partnership they have with Nike. Nike’s co-founder and chairman Phil Knight was born and
raised in Oregon. He still lives there and he seems to love everything Oregon. Nike’s world headquarters are based in Beaverton, Oregon and he has given several hundred million dollars of his personal fortune to the University of Oregon and the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.

Doernbecher Freestyle was created in 2004 when Michael Doherty, Nike’s Creative Director of Global Brand Presentations and Doernbecher Foundation board member, was talking to his son, Connor, about ways to raise money for the Hospital. Connor had the idea of having Nike create shoes and sell them to raise funds. Michael then invited one of Nike’s shoe designers to take a tour of the hospital to inspire him to design a pair of shoes for Doernbecher. It was designer Marcus Tayui’s vision to see patients design the shoes with the proceeds benefiting the hospital that in many cases has saved their lives. Now in its ninth year, this extraordinary program has raised over $5 million for the hospital, which uses the funds for everything from clinical programs and hospital construction to providing care for uninsured children.”

What Nike does in their collaboration is awesome. The six children who are
selected each year are given the complete and final say in how their unique shoe will look. The materials, design theme, coloring, and even personal touches are all from them and their imaginations, without any limitation from Nike. One of my favorite personal touches is on a pair that I own. On the back of the shoe, under a small flap, is a graphic of a fork wrapped with spaghetti noodles, as this was one of the shoe designer’s favorite foods. The shoes have some great looks and I own a few of the pairs that have come out. Six designs are released each year and they are very collectible and always unique. It is a great cause and it is a way for everyone involved to have some fun, raise some much needed money, and make a real difference in several people’s lives. Thank you Doernbecher and thank you Nike.

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