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Chase Crouch is a new star player for Nike

Wilsonville boy named to design team for Freestyle shoes


by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Chase Crouch

Meet Chase Crouch, new star shoe designer for Nike.

The Wilsonville boy is just 7 years old, but as far as Nike is concerned he has just what it takes to be part of their new Nike/Doernbecher Freestyle Program, which has the task of designing the new shoes to raise funds for children at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

In the past, the ages of Freestyle design team members ranged from 8 to 16. But Chase was too good a prospect to pass up. He is already doing promotional work for the shoes, which will be unveiled in November of this year. He is also pictured dressed up like a doctor on Doernbecher brochures. You’ve come a long way, kid.

“Chase is kind of a big deal,” admitted his mother Janet Crouch. “He made a great connection with Dr. (Nathan) Selden.”

Today, Chase is a vital, active boy, very photogenic, who his mother thinks will rock the world someday. He loves to draw, and soon he will be working with five other children on designs. All of them will be designing their own shoes.

Janet Crouch’s joy in watching her son at play is in direct contrast to the way she felt three years ago when she was told Chase had a brain tumor. She had no idea. She thought he was just a 4 year old with some balance problems.

“Chase was clumsy, he started falling down, he was staggering,” Janet said. “He still seemed to be a normal 4-year-old boy. I took him to see a pediatrician just to make sure everything was okay.”

Chase got the checkup, and Janet had every reason to think everything was fine as she drove home with her husband Kelly, toddler daughter Ellie and Chase.

But that quickly changed.

“We got an urgent call,” Janet said. “They told us to turn around. Chase’s brain was swelling. When we got back to the hospital, Dr. Selden dangled his keys in front of Chase’s eyes to see how he would react.”

The diagnosis took place on 1-11-11. An x-ray showed that Chase had a golfball-sized tumor behind his cerebellum.

The next three days were the worst of Janet Crouch’s life. The Crouch family never left the hospital as Chase was prepared for his brain operation.

“On the morning of the surgery I was a wreck,” Janet said.

But joy arrived quickly on January 14.

“The words are still so clear in my head,” Janet said. “The doctor said it could not have gone any better.”

In fact, Janet loves to repeat the words, “It could not have gone any better.” Dr. Selden, a neurosurgeon, had been able to completely remove the tumor, and there was no trace of malignancy.

Now, Janet expects Chase to be amazing, and he started early with his selection to the Freestyle design team. The beginning of this unique team came about when Nike wanted to have a specially designed shoe that would raise money for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. An executive got a bright idea: “Hey, why not have the kids design these shoes?”

“Every shoe designed tells a story of a kid,” Janet said. “These shoes are limited editions, and they sell out in hours. They’ve raised $8 million for Doernbecher since the project began. Last year they went over $1 million for the first time.”

With Chase on the 2014 design team, that record will not stand long. Besides the shoes, he will also be designing a hat and a hoodie.

Chase’s reaction to all of this: “Awesome!”




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