Nike, Doernbecher release special Freestyle shoe in honor of Isaac Arzate

Isaac Arzate, Salem, Ore.

A smart and outgoing kid at the center of a large and loving family, Isaac Arzate was a talented young athlete who pitched a no-hitter in baseball and savored an undefeated season in basketball.

With his dad, Henry, by his side as a coach, Isaac was a dedicated player with a passion for sports that nothing could dim – not even a heart defect.

In January 2012, Isaac suffered a cardiac arrest at basketball practice and was sent from Salem to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where doctors discovered he had a previously undetected abnormality that is one of the most common causes for cardiac arrest in young people.

Isaac Arzate’s Nike Air Jordan V Retros

After open-heart surgery, Isaac passed the time on bed rest playing his favorite video game.

Isaac was thrilled to be chosen for the 2012 Doernbecher Freestyle program and began to sketch designs for an Air Jordan V Retro that reflected his interests and his experience. Before long he was well enough to don his jersey and watch his basketball team from the bleachers, occasionally getting in a free throw during a break in the game.

Several parts of Isaac’s shoe glow in the dark.

As spring approached, he was preparing for baseball season by easing back into practice. But four months after his first cardiac arrest, Isaac suffered a second cardiac arrest and did not survive.

His parents are grateful to OHSU Doernbecher for helping to extend Isaac’s life for another precious four months.

“I never thought I would get him back the first time,” says his mom, Lindsay. When approached this year to help finish the shoe design that Isaac had started, they felt it was a fitting tribute to Isaac’s memory. “Finishing his shoe is a huge honor in his name to reflect all the things he loved about life,” says his mom. “What better way to say we love him.”

Nike still had Isaac’s original sketches, and his parents found some more. Using those as a guide, they created a design that incorporates Isaac’s jersey numbers and other favorite things. The shoe features a poem on the sock liner that Isaac wrote the day before his passing. It reads: “My team/my family/We are brothers forever/No matter what.”

“I believe we have captured Isaac’s essence in this shoe,” says Lindsay. “I hope it’ll touch those who wear it just as Isaac touched the lives of all those around him.”

Isaac’s Air Jordan will go on sale at select Nike retail locations and on Saturday, Sept. 14. Please visit for more information.

Ashley Schmidt
Associate Director of Development
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation

4 responses to “Nike, Doernbecher release special Freestyle shoe in honor of Isaac Arzate

  1. I just read this wonderful story about Isaac….the rest of the story is that his teammates are very upset at this time because they were not given the opportunity to purchase the shoes that Isaac designed. They loved him so much. The shoes were on the internet, they were sold out in just a few short moments. The shoes are being sold at this time on e-bay for more than a 1000.00 a pair. I am so disappointed that the sport family that Isaac loved so much and spoke of in his poem are without that memory. Most of the buyers were from the east coast and are selling them for profit. Our family is heartsick about how this turned out for our boys. I am hoping that Doernbecher and Nike can make this right. The young men on Isaac’s team need to be a part of this memory.

    1. Thank you for sharing your frustration and concerns with us, Mary. The shoe is a tribute to Isaac, and we know he is deeply missed. Much to everyone’s expectation, the pairs sold through quickly, and while we understand your disappointment, we are grateful that the proceeds from the sales of Isaac’s amazing shoes will help other kids living with serious illness. -Anne

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