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Hillsboro boy 'Freestyles' Nike shoe for hospital fundraiser

COURTESY PHOTO - Kian Safholm is one of six guest shoe and apparel designers for this years Doernbecher Freestyle program. The program lets kids with serious health challenges design their own Nike shoes and apparel alongside professional designers.Nike last week unveiled a half dozen very special new shoe designs, all created with strength, courage and spirit.

The 12th annual Doernbecher Freestyle program allows six children — all patients at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital — to work with Nike shoe and apparel designers to tell their own story. One designer, Kian Safholm, 11, hails from Hillsboro.

This year’s collection of six limited-edition footwear and apparel designs features a glow-in-the-dark dancer, an Egyptian pyramid, comic book legend Stan Lee’s signature, a personalized family crest, the Bat-Signal and Sasquatch riding a unicorn.

“The Doernbecher Freestyle program is a celebration of the strength, bravery and character of children fighting serious health conditions,” said Michael Doherty, Nike Senior Creative Director of global brand presentation, longtime Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation board member and creator of the Doernbecher Freestyle program.

“After 12 years, I remain in awe of the creativity and stories that these exceptional patients share through their designs,” Doherty said. “The results provide a source of inspiration, hope and support for the wonderful families, health care providers at OHSU Doernbecher, and the community.”

COURTESY PHOTO - Kian Safholm of Hillsboro designed these colorful sneakers as a tribute to his favorite basketball player, LeBron James.Each year, hospital physicians, nurses and staff nominate patients from Oregon and southwest Washington to participate in the program. The selected designers meet their Nike design and development team at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, brainstorm ideas and begin sketching their designs for the collection shoes and apparel.

The kids use their designs to express powerful personal messages — sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical — about their lives, their experiences and their hope for the future.

Two years ago, Kian was put to the test when a staph infection spread through his body and entered his heart, requiring three surgeries. After months of recovery and with the support of everyone around him, Kian is back to doing what he loves: playing basketball and cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

His design, the custom LEBRON XIII, is a tribute to King James himself, who inspired Kian to remain courageous and keep up his fight.

Since James is said to have the heart of a lion, Kian chose colors that represent sunrise on the African savanna, where lions roam. James’ signature is on the shoe, as is a stylized lion logo.

Kian also added details from his own life. He created his own family crest, which can be seen on the sock liner, celebrating the things he values most: faith, family, perseverance and, of course, basketball.

The Safholm family motto, “Forever Grateful,” also appears in Kian’s design.

“Whenever we talk about my experience, my dad says he’ll be forever grateful to the Doernbecher team for saving my life,” Kian said.

“This medical journey has taught me that it’s possible to have a good ending to a bad beginning. Even though I was really sick, my family and I never gave up fighting. With faith, love and a whole lot of perseverance, you can get through anything.”

Kian’s plans for the future includes becoming a professional basketball player for — you guessed it — the Cleveland Cavs. “Maybe LeBron will be the coach by then,” Kian says with a grin.

“Kian kept us on our toes. He really loves shoes, and he picks up on every little detail,” said Jonathan Johnsongriffin, the shoe designer on Kian’s team.

“He knows so much about shoes and was naturally curious about the design process — his curiosity made me more excited to work on the project. Hopefully this project and this shoe will inspire people to win the day, every day.”

The Doernbecher Freestyle Collection has raised over $11 million to help expand the hospital’s pioneering research, support clinical care, purchase state-of-the-art equipment, recruit new experts and subsidize the cost of care for families in need.

The 2015 Doernbecher Freestyle Collection is available beginning Nov. 21.


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