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Shoe company taps teens for shoe designs for Doernbecher fundraiser
by: submitted photo, Colin Couch, above left, shows off his distinctive shoe, assisted by E. Scott Morris, footwear design manager for Nike.

People usually aren't supposed to scribble on their shoes, but Nike asked Colin Couch, 19, to do just that, and he was rewarded with his own shoe design.


The shoes, Air Force Ones with brown scribbles, will officially go up for sale at Niketown this Friday, Nov. 14, with proceeds from their sale going to Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

'I've been going [to Doernbecher] since it was a few rooms at OHSU; ever since we moved here, 13 or 14 years ago. Every year [Nike] asks the doctors to choose five or six kids to design a shoe, and this year I was chosen,' the Oregon City resident said.

Couch said he suffers from congenital heart disease and is 'growth and nutritionally challenged.'

He also has a clotting disorder and protein-losing enteropathy.

Nike shoe designers gave Couch a white prototype shoe and told him scribble on it or draw whatever he wanted.

'So I sat down and my mom started reading a story and I started doodling on it. I liked the design - it was stream of consciousness,' he said.

Shoe designer E. Scott Morris gave him some ideas and some feedback, but the final design was all his own, Couch said.

The shoes will be available online at Nike.com, as well as at Niketown, on S.W. Sixth and Salmon in Portland, until March.

'[Doernbecher] an excellent hospital and I am glad of the chance to give back to it by doing some fundraising,' Couch said.

Sometime in the near future, Couch said, he will be getting a heart transplant, and at that point, 'will get on with life.'

Another Oregon City resident, Emily Giersch, 17, designed a shoe for Nike, but was unavailable for comment. Her design, a Nike Free Mary Jane slip-on inspired by the surf, sun and sand of Hawaii, will also go on sale on Nov. 14.

Freestyle program

The Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation announced a contribution of nearly $600,000 from Nike through the Doernbecher Freestyle program, a philanthropic partnership between Nike and OHSU Doernbecher, the region's premier pediatric medical center. Nike officials presented the check Saturday, Sept. 20, at the fifth annual Doernbecher Freestyle unveiling/auction event at Wieden + Kennedy's Portland headquarters.

The five-year-old Freestyle program gives Doernbecher patients who have battled serious illness the opportunity to design their own Nike sneakers, which are sold nationwide to raise funds for the hospital. Nike donates its proceeds from retail sales of the Freestyle collection back to Doernbecher. To date, the program has raised nearly $2 million for Doernbecher from shoe sales and event proceeds.

The 2008 Freestyle collection includes five new shoes designed by Doernbecher patients and one style created by famed Nike designer Mark Smith to mark the program's fifth anniversary. This year's line contains several surefire collectors' items, including a rare Air Jordan Retro 1 already creating a buzz among the nation's sneaker collectors. This year's kid-designed shoes also include two different Air Force 1 designs, a Free Mary Jane style for women, and an Air Zoom Vomero+3 running shoe. Smith's anniversary shoe, a white Air Max, features the Dolly Doernbecher logo on the tongue tag.

During a recent event for Doernbecher, a pair of each shoes autographed by Tiger Woods was auctioned to the highest bidder. Tennis star Maria Sharapova opened the bidding with a pre-recorded message for patient-designer Emily Giersch of Oregon City, whose Hawaiian-themed shoe had caught her eye. Sharapova's $6,000 bid fell short, however, as the shoe ultimately sold to another bidder for $7,000. In another Freestyle first, Eugene resident Staci Wright's splashy running shoe attracted two competing high bids of $20,000.

A Freestyle shoe designed by Oregon City resident Colin Couch was auctioned off for $8,000.

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