PORTLAND, Ore. — Doernbecher Freestyle, a creative fundraising effort involving young patient-designers and Nike, is in its 18th year. And after a few pandemic years relegated to an online-only event, the gathering Friday evening was a party.
“This is my favorite event of any year, any time, and being back in person is absolutely fantastic,” said Doernbecher physician-in-chief Dr. Dana Braner.
Braner explained that the OHSU children's hospital turns nobody away based on their ability to pay, so this fundraising partnership with Nike is very important.
At the event, shoes designed by a half-dozen kids who've benefited from Doernbecher care are on display, destined to be auctioned off and then sold to the masses online and at Nike retail stores nationwide.
15-year-old Emerson Harrell is one of the six young people who displayed their shoes for 2022.
“I am a big shoe person, I like collecting shoes, I like wearing shoes and I like Nike too, so it worked out,” said Harrell, who worked with a team of Nike professionals to create his design.
So did 11-year-old Coley Miller, who branched out beyond the shoes.
“I made my shoes, my pants, and my backpack all out of my culture and my homeland back at home, and I added my favorite colors and did the basket designs on there,” said Miller.
Every penny raised through the Doernbecher Freestyle XVIII auction and retail sales of the shoes goes to help a hospital that is a life-saver for kids like Miller, who said he is honored to help.
“Really important — since I was born, I was in Doernbecher a lot and OHSU, and so I felt good about this,” said the young designer.
The key word at the Friday night event: "Cool," expressed by kids and adults alike.
“We'll take care of more than 80,000 kids this year and every single one of them is a super star. Tonight these six kids are showing the world how much of a super star they are, and I think that's cool," said Braner, who added that the highlight of the evening was hearing all six kids share their stories of struggles, strength, and perseverance.
Click here to learn more about how you can help the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital mission.