Here’s the thing about 8-year-old Jake Dering: the kid’s got swagger. After enduring 19 surgeries to treat an extremely rare genetic condition called otopalatodigital syndrome type II, he’s earned the right to strut a little. Jake’s charm is not lost on the ladies.
He’s been known to liberally dose himself with Calvin Klein cologne (he calls it smelly sauce) when the occasion calls for it. He’s also a smooth operator on the dance floor, making him a high sought after partner at weddings. “I’m good at the tango and romance dancing,” he said.
His swagtastic creation, the Nike Free Jake 5.0, is ideal for fresh dance moves. Lenticular materials throughout the shoe give the appearance of constantly being in motion – just like Jake. He offers some words of advice on the sockliners: one side reads Be Brave, while the other reads Never Give Up. And around the ankle collar, Jake’s can-do attitude is summed up with the simple phrase I wasn’t made to fit in, I was made to stand out.
Even the name of the shoe is significant to Jake. “I just really want to be free of all this stuff,” he explained. “No halo, no cast, no crutches. That’s why it’s called the Free Jake.”
Next May, another surgery is planned to add 3 ½ inches to his right leg. Until then, he’ll continue rocking his Free Jakes with a special lift built right in. Besides making it a lot easier to run and play, his custom Nike kicks come with an extra special benefit.
“A lot of times people want to know what the deal is with my shoes – I get kind of tired of it,” he said. “But now, when people ask me, ‘where did you get that cool shoe?’ I can say, ‘I designed it!’” Talk about bragging rights – or in Jake’s case, swagger rights.
“Jake has undergone numerous surgeries throughout his life. He has been in and out of full body casts and halo neck traction. He is resilient, dedicated to improving his mobility, and tough. He is also a super charismatic and genuine person. He has overcome the odds – he is a fighter.” – Nathan Selden, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.P., head, Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
The 2013 limited-edition Doernbecher Freestyle Collection includes apparel and footwear and will be sold at www.nike.com and at Nike retail locations across the country. All proceeds benefit OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
Associate Director of Development
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation