The Nike x Doernbecher Freestyle Collection


Image Credit: Sneaker Files

Pegi Bracaj, Staff Writer


Fifteen years ago, the son of Michael Doherty, a former Nike creative director, came up with the innovative idea in which patients in the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital would work alongside Nike to design their unique shoes. It is worth noting that all the proceeds from the sales would be donated to the hospital. 

This idea eventually evolved into what is known today as the Doernbecher Freestyle wherein each year, 6 patients are allowed to design Nike silhouettes and apparel. Each year, these patients raise about $20 million, all used towards new treatments and advanced medical research, which, undoubtedly, leads to better care for the kids. 

Apart from everything, Nike enables kids to drive the process of designing their shoes from beginning to end. In essence, the entire shoe is an open canvas where kids from the Doernbecher Hospital can express themselves without being limited by anyone. For example, in 2011, Isaiah Scott – an 11-year-old patient diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – was allowed to experiment with the Air Jordan 4 silhouette design in which he transferred his ‘Superman’ persona onto a very cool and beautiful pair of sneakers.

 Of course, this one-of-a-kind design was a great success and in fact, this shoe now resells for about $2000 to $3000. All in all, this experience had and will have a long-lasting impact on the kids as it allows them to nurture their creativity and imagination; it is, essentially, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.