A walk down memory lane (in some pretty incredible Doernbecher Freestyle sneakers)

First photo: Smiling boy holds up a pair of colorful Nike Air Jordans. Second photo: A young man holding up sneakers.

Since 2003, nearly 100 young designers – all who have faced serious illness or injury – have participated in the Doernbecher Freestyle program to create internationally renowned Nike footwear and apparel collections that have all been auctioned and sold to benefit one cause: OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the hospital that saved their lives.

Gray background with blue and red text reading "V1RTUALLY FREESTYLE. All for one." with the Doernbecher Freestyle logo and graphics imitating shoe stitching.To date, more than $27 million has been raised by the program to support high-quality clinical care and innovative scientific research and to train future health care professionals.

Due to the novel coronavirus, Doernbecher Freestyle will look different this year. The event is going virtual, and – for the first time in Doernbecher Freestyle history – everyone is invited to attend.

Virtually Freestyle will take place via livestream on February 25, 2021. The evening will celebrate and reflect on all of the remarkable young patients who have shared their personal stories of strength, teamwork and inspiration through incredible Nike designs. Not to mention that we’ll also reveal – and auction off – a limited run, special-edition sneaker that celebrates 17 years of Doernbecher Freestyle.

We caught up with Caden Lampert, a 2014 Doernbecher Freestyle patient-designer, to see how he’s doing and what he thinks about Virtually Freestyle.

Hi everyone,

I can’t believe it has already been six years since I designed my Nike Air Jordan 8 with the Doernbecher Freestyle program. Time flies!

I wanted to give you an update of how things are going with me.

I’m 16 and am a sophomore at West Linn High School. When not in school, I keep busy with lacrosse and basketball.

I’ve made pretty much a full recovery from Guilliain-Barré syndrome, and I know sports has had a big role in that. I remember when I finished physical therapy, everyone figured that wherever I was at that point was as good as I’d get. But, each year after that, I’ve continued to improve. I never take that for granted.

I was excited to learn about the Virtually Freestyle event. It made me think of some of my favorite memories of the program, especially working with Chad and Paul, my design team! They were always open to all my ideas, and my sneaker design really reflects that. It’s hard to decide what my favorite part of the sneaker is, because I still love everything about it. It’s like a time capsule from my 10-year-old self. My brothers’ names, the gold cancer ribbon and my thumb print are a few stand-out features, though. My brother Ryland died in 2015, and it’s a good memory to open the straps and see his name there. I will always remember how kind “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” (aka Shane Victorino) was to me. After my brother passed away, he checked in and that meant a lot.

Doernbecher Freestyle is important because it gives kids who are going through the worst health issues of their life a chance to do something fun and creative, and give back to the hospital. For me, I was able to work on a once in a lifetime project and get my mind off all the things to worry about when you go through an illness like mine. I think every kid that’s ever designed a sneaker for the program really needed that time to temporarily forget what they were going through. I’m excited to see how Virtually Freestyle and this year’s special-edition sneaker celebrate our stories.


Caden was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare, autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerves. His unique Nike Air Jordan 8 was purchased on auction night by now former professional baseball player Shane Victorino, “The Flyin’ Hawaiian.” Learn more about Caden’s story here, and join us for Virtually Freestyle to check in with other Doernbecher Freestyle alumni, and be among the first to see – and even bid on – the special-edition sneaker!

Thursday, February 25, 2021
Livestream program begins at 6 p.m.

The event is free, and open to all. Registration is required.

Can’t attend but want to make a gift to support Doernbecher kids and families? Click here to donate now.