Starting back in 2004, Nike and the OSHU Doernbecher Children's Hospital came together to create the Doernbecher Freestyle program. It allows patients at the hospital to design their own unique colorways on Nike silhouettes conveying their stories. Since the program started, over $30 million has been raised for the hospital alongside 100’s of patients able to design their own sneakers. While we didn’t get a collection the previous two years due the Coronavirus pandemic, 2022 sees a strong return with a wide range of silhouettes to offer. Keep reading for a breakdown on each patient-designer below.
The Nike Doernbecher Freestyle XVII Collection kicks off with seven limited edition auctions (one for each style) exclusively via eBay starting on Saturday, February 26th, 2022 at 4pm PST and ending on Saturday, March 5th, 2022 at 4pm PST. Each pair will be badged and vetted with eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee. All auctions are courtesy of the OHSU Foundation in partnership with online charity auction management agency Matchfire.
A follow-up release exclusively online at Nike.com, the Nike SNKRS app, and select Nike retail locations in-store is set for April 30th, 2022. Size runs and pricing are to be announced. Keep it locked to our Twitter and Mobile App to stay up to date on the Nike Doernbecher Freestyle XVII Collection releases.
Sam David Phelps x Nike LeBron 19
LeBron James is one of the world's biggest athletes, and also happens to be Sam David Phelps' favorite. Born with spina bifida just like fellow Freestyle designer and sister Maylee, Sam unfortunately is bound to a wheelchair. However, this doesn’t stop him from wanting to achieve his dreams of hooping as he plays for the Portland Wheelblazers and hopes to one day join the USA Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team.
His design on the Nike LeBron 19 comes in a stunning black, gold and red outfit. Covered in lightning bolts across the base, his very own wheelchair logo is placed along the base of the tongue. Sam’s signature comes placed along the midfoot with his initials in what Nike calls an Airbag Pod alongside his birthday and favorite saying “Never Back Down.” The same mantra is placed on the black and gold speckled midsole, paired to an icy blue Nike Air unit below foot.
Along with his LeBron 19, Sam designed both a hoodie and sweatpants to match. Two-tone black and grey make up the hoodie with his initials and wheelchair logo placed on the chest and kangaroo pocket respectively. For the sweats, a black and red look featuring both design details on the hoodie completes his head-to-toe look.
Michael Wilson x Air Jordan 5 Retro Low
As a newborn child, Michael Wilson was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Krabbe disease which destroys the coating around his nerve cells both in his brain and nervous system. Often fatal, Michael has been able to push through not only with the help of Doernbecher hospital and his parents, but also his older brother Marshall. Unfortunately, Marshall was also suffering from Krabbe disease before Michael was born, giving the doctors a notice to keep an eye on him. Being able to catch the disease before it had its negative effect on Michael, he was able to successfully have an experimental stem cell procedure done in 2011. While his brother unfortunately succumbed to Krabbe's disease, he credits him with saving his own life.
Since the treatment, Michael has grown into a fun-loving child with interests in sharks, planes and everyone’s favorite mac ‘n cheese. It’s no surprise his Air Jordan 5 Retro Low takes design elements from all three of these interests. The silhouette comes dressed in a multi-color mix of blue, yellow, red, green, and orange with macaroni elbows lasered onto the suede upper and custom lace dubrae. Shark eyes placed underneath the midfoot panel are aided by the red fangs placed on the midsole. His love of planes can be found through the interchangeable patches that can be placed on the tongue as well as the eject loop placed on the heel. His motto “Take Flight” fittingly makes it onto the design as well, being embroidered onto the heel with the Jordan Flight font used. The traditional Jumpman logo on the back heel is paired with his initials MDW underneath.
To match his Air Jordan 5 Low, Michael designed a t-shirt and crewneck. Using the same multi-color look, the t-shirt comes with a tri-tone look with red on the front, blue making up the sleeve and purple dressing the back. The classic Air Jordan Wings logo on the chest and a fighter plane with “Take Flight” written across show off his love of planes. His crewneck however comes dressed in orange with blue patterns throughout, forming Air Michael logos and planes. An embroidered Jumpman on the chest completes the look.
Zoe Taaffe x Nike Dunk Low
When Zoe was a sophomore in high school, she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that caused inflammation in her blood vessels. Although no doctor could initially pin down what her issue was after experiencing many symptoms, Zoe got the help she needed as soon as she arrived at Doernbecher hospital. After a long treatment involving steroids, chemotherapy, and multiple blood and plasma transfusions, she was able to see up close and personal where her profession in life would be, the medical field. Her positive-minded nurses during her treatments made her into the nurse she became.
This positive attitude is conveyed in the details on her Nike Dunk Low, with its all-white base accented by zebra pattern stripes and Oregon Ducks colors making it onto the midfoot panel, Nike Swoosh, and eyelets. Upon closer look, the zebra pattern actually features Zoe’s name, and is a nod to the stretch marks she gained after going through steroid treatment. In her own words, “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.” The shoe also features a glow-in-the-dark outsole, interchangeable velcro Swooshes, and an Oregon Ducks-inspired nursing symbol on the sock liner with the word “fearless” on the laces.
Her clothing and accessories to go along with the Dunk Low include an Oregon Ducks backpack and hoodie. Zebra print and Ducks logos and colors make up the backpack while her hoodie takes the same color palette and throws on the phrases “One in a million” and “Fearless” onto the back.
Ayman Wamala x Nike Blazer Mid ‘77
At an early age while still living in Kenya, Ayman Wamala was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia, suffering for years until he made his way to Portland and Doernbecher hospital four years ago. Since then, his health has improved and he is able to continue to enjoy the things he loves, such as soccer, cooking, and most importantly acting. Inspired by superhero stories and anime, Ayman hopes to one day become an actor in movies, already playing a main character in his school's production of Jumanji.
His alter-ego, a mysterious mind reading character, helps inspire his take on the Nike Blazer Mid ‘77. Covered in black with accenting purple and green hits on the upper, his character makes its way prominently onto the tongue in a triangular logo, with further triangles coming embossed on the heel of the silhouette as his form of armor. Along the midfoot and toebox, faint tiger stripes in black will glow bright blue when seen in UV light. The same light up effect can be found along the green piping surrounding the silver metallic Nike Swoosh. Purple eyelets provide a pop of color, housing the wax black laces running up the tongue. On the blacked out midsole, words of wisdom run along from heel to forefoot with the phrase “Life is uncertain… make fast decisions in tough situations.” The red outsole below represents Ayman’s condition, with the words “Hope, Strength, Perseverance” surrounding his logo.
No superhero is complete without his suit, and Ayman is no different, designing his hat and hoodie to match. Purple makes up the majority of the hoodie with claw marks coming in black along the stomach. Reflective 3M hits around the hood and arms help shine more light onto his design. His purple hat comes emblazoned with his superhero logo that is seen on the tongue of the Blazer alongside black claw marks to complete the entire look.
Cidni O’Brien x Nike Air Force 1 Fontanka
At age eleven in 2018 while playing soccer, Cidni O’Brien felt pain in her chest. Upon making it to the sidelines, she was in cardiac arrest. Fortunately for Cidni, her mother who is a nurse was able to perform CPR, saving her daughter’s life. After arriving at Doernbecher hospital she was diagnosed with an anomalous aortic origin of the left coronary artery. Leaving a critical artery that supplies blood to the heart attached in the wrong place. As a result, her heart wasn’t getting enough oxygen, causing poor cardiac function. After six months and one major heart surgery later, Cidni was back on the pitch for her high school team, the Lebanon Warriors.
Cidni’s love of soccer, tribute to her teammates, and love of animals are the main inspirations behind her Nike Air Force 1 Fontanka. The sneaker is dressed in a variety of colors such as black, red, and various shades of blue. Sporting an all-leather upper, heart details are found via the perforations on the toebox, and studs on the side panels, below the eyestays, and back heel. The laces are printed with the names of some of her animals such as: Swim Shady (fish); Carol Bask-hen (chicken); Tito (parrot); Copper (dog); Bosco (donkey); and Cheez-its, Jonathan, and Thoober (goats).
Her mom, Nikki, is featured on the right sockliner while her horse, Tank, is prominently on the left. Explaining why, Cidni stated, “My mom is my hero. I wouldn’t be here without her.” and “I got Tank because I didn’t know if I’d ever play soccer again, and he really helped cheer me up.” Finishing things off for Cidni’s Nike Air Force 1 Fontanka is an icy translucent outsole that features one of her favorite food dishes, shrimp pasta underneath. As an Easter Egg, her name is hidden within the noodles.
Alongside her sneaker, Cidni has also created a snapback cap. To match her Air Forces, the cap comes dressed in black and red with blue accents and mesh netting on the side panels.
Catalina Vazquez x Nike SB Stefan Zoom Janoski
At just three days old, Catalina Vazquez 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, braind, and spinal cord, requiring five surgeries to remove them. Like a butterfly, Catalina emerged from her difficult medical journey determined to stay strong as well as bring awareness to her disease.
Her love for exotic locations, in particular the Galapagos Islands, are the main inspiration behind her Nike SB Stefan Janoski. Sporting teal and white on the canvas upper, hand-drawn flowers reflecting her love of nature can be seen along with a DNA helix along the side, and an embroidered multi-color butterfly graphic on the toe, symbolizing metamorphosis. A powerful statement from the VHL Alliance: “The cure is in our genes.” is prominently on the sides of the white vulcanized soles with the DNA helix making a second appearance underneath.
In addition, Catalina also designed an accompanying hoodie and backpack. The hoodie comes in all-blue, sporting DNA helix graphics on the sleeves, a mini Swoosh and butterfly embroidered on the chest and two hearts, one broken on the pouch. Her backpack is dressed in the same color, with her VHL and Warrior quotes on the straps and a beautiful butterfly in-between.
Maylee Phelps x NikeCourt Zoom Vapor Cage 4
Maylee Phelps was born with spina bifida. A condition where the spine and spinal cord fails to develop properly. As a result, 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. She is currently an accomplished junior wheelchair tennis player, ranked #11 in the world, and hopes to represent the United States in the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympics. After her Paralympic career, Maylee plans to open her own unique bakery for humans and dogs, a place where everyone can get yummy treats.
As an athlete, Maylee chose to design her own NikeCourt Zoom Vapor Cage 4, perfect for her to wear during her quest to be on the US Paralympic team in 2028. Featuring pastel vibes throughout the upper, iridescent hits also shine throughout. An oversized embroidered Swoosh starts on the sides and wraps along the back heel. Additional details include: hand-drawn stars, a spine graphic on the tongue, blue spina bifida on the heels, the phrase “Keep Pushing no matter what life throws your way.” on the midsole, and her initials MP on the heel finish things off.
To go alongside her kicks, Maylee Phelps also created a matching hoodie and backpack. The backpack comes dressed in blue with purple and neon green accents. Other tennis nods are found throughout as well as her initials and the phrase “Leave it all on the court” running down the middle. The hoodie comes in black with neon green stars throughout and a purple body. A custom tennis ball wheelchair graphic adorns the chest.