Doernbecher Freestyle: behind the scenes with Nike’s Carson Brown

Being nominated and selected to work on the Doernbecher Freestyle collection is a once-in-a-lifetime experience ­for our patient-designers, but it’s also special for the Nike employees who work with them. We sat down with Carson Brown, a graphic designer working with 8-year-old Isaiah (along with Celeste Rhoads, Aaron Reimer and Sara Cruthers), to learn why this program and this hospital are so meaningful to him.  

What was it like working with Isaiah? 

When our group first met Isaiah to go over his vision and direction, he had some pretty clear and creative ideas. It was a blast taking his sketches, notes and favorite things and merging them together into something special that ties the collection together. We had a few emails and meetings throughout this project to get Isaiah’s feedback to make sure our team was on track. The end result is something truly special and unique to Isaiah.

One of my favorite moments was when Isaiah came for his photo shoot and saw his products for the first time. His excitement was fulfilling. Another favorite moment was receiving a cool sketch Isaiah made (pictured here at right) that captured our first group meeting. 

What was your reaction to finding out you’d be working on this year’s Doernbecher Freestyle collection?

I was pretty emotional. This project means a lot to me and I know it means so much more to the families involved. When our son was born, he was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a disease that affects the bile ducts and liver. When he was 8 weeks old, Gibson had what’s known as the ‘Kasai Procedure’ to help repair his bile ducts. Over the next few months, we were in and out of Doernbecher many times and I’d always roam the hallways to get out of the room and get some air. Whenever I’d pass the Doernbecher/Nike display, I’d pause and read the amazing journeys of each child who participated in the project.

When Gibson was 6 months old, he was having some complications. My wife and Gibson were flown down to Stanford to be evaluated for a liver transplant. Within a few days of his arrival there, Gibson received a liver transplant. He’s now a healthy 2-1/2-year old, and we’re very thankful for that special gift of life.

Being a part of the Doernbecher Freestyle project is very special to my family and me. It’s one of the best projects I have been fortunate to be a part of, and I look forward to helping out whenever possible.


In the coming weeks, we’ll be touching base with others working on this year’s Doernbecher Freestyle collection to learn what it was like working with Emory, Jacob, John, Kian and Lizzy. In the meantime, you can learn more about all six patient-designers here. Save the date for the big collection reveal at our auction on October 23!