The Nike and Doernbecher Freestyle event has raised more than $29 million for OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital since 2003 to protect the health of children in Oregon, southwest Washington, and beyond. For its 17th year, Doernbecher Freestyle releases an unforgettable tribute to former patient-designers, seen through the vault of Air Jordan: an Air Jordan I “What The” Doernbecher, featuring elements from each of the program’s 14 Air Jordan designs.
“This year, we weren’t able to have patient-designers, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating, because it’s an annual moment that the kids, the sneaker community, and Doernbecher circles on their calendars — as well as all of us at the company,” says Eric Sandy, Color Design Director for Jordan Brand. “We took it as an opportunity to celebrate prior patient-designers and their inspiring stories, culminating those details into a ‘What The’ design.”
See How the 14 Designs Appear in the Air Jordan I “What The” Doernbecher
Cole, Air Jordan III Doernbecher (2010)
Look closely at this year’s left shoe collar and outsole to find Cole’s favorite design element: a grid pattern which spells “C-O-L-E” in repetition.
Tony, Air Jordan I Doernbecher (2008)
Tony’s original palm trees represent his favorite tropical place, while the angel wing pattern symbolizes everyone, including his family and the Doernbecher team, who supported him during his medical journey. These same angel wings are present on the heel foxing of the left AJ1 “What The” Doernbecher, and his bright yellow contrast stitching on the Swoosh represents the good times cutting through the bad.
Ethan, Air Jordan XIV Doernbecher (2019)
The same vibrant, iridescent material on the quarter panel of Ethan’s original design appears on the vamp of this year’s left shoe.
Oswaldo, Air Jordan IX Doernbecher (2012)
Leaning into Oswaldo’s “Little Chicken” nickname from his family, this year’s shoe brings his custom-etched, metallic gold and black feather pattern on the tip, eyestay, and forefoot overlay.
Carissa, Air Jordan XII Doernbecher (2017)
Carissa’s Air Jordan XII design was all spunk, loaded with references to food, pets, and colors. That energy is reflected in her design’s wild, marbled pink outsole, which appears on the left outsole of the AJ I “What The” Doernbecher.
Sheridan, Air Jordan II Doernbecher (2007)
A fan of paisley patterns, Sheridan came together with his Nike team to design and create a custom pattern just for him. Originally applied to the tip and quarter panel of his Air Jordan II, the iconic green paisley now makes a special appearance on the right shoe collar and upper of the AJ 1 “What The” Doernbecher.
Caden, Air Jordan VIII Doernbecher (2014)
Caden’s reminder to “Be Brave” is prominently placed on the lateral collar overlay on the right Air Jordan I “What The” Doernbecher, and his flaming basketball graphic adorns the outsole.
Daniel, Air Jordan X Doernbecher (2013)
Most prominent on Daniel’s original design was the camouflage pattern material that covers the shoe’s upper, and it shows up on the eyestay and under the shoelaces of this year’s shoe.
John, Air Jordan XIII Doernbecher (2015)
John’s original design boasts a green and black color scheme inspired by the outfit he wore to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for the first time. His original vibrant green material makes a statement on the vamp of the right AJ I “What The” Doernbecher.
Donovon, Air Jordan XV Doernbecher (2018)
A fan of Japanese anime, Donovon wanted his original Air Jordan XV design to represent him as a character in his own anime story. Suede dragon scales covered the shoe’s upper, while bright gold accents represented the hero’s armor. Both elements can be found on the AJ I “What The” Doernbecher’s right tip and shiny Swoosh.
Isaac, Air Jordan V Doernbecher (2012)
Isaac’s Air Jordan V officially released on September 14, 2013, on what would have been his 14th birthday. The AJ I “What The” Doernbecher celebrates Isaac’s enduring spirit. The material from Isaac’s original design — which features glow-in-the-dark and black-light-activated elements inspired by his love of video games — is included on the quarter panel of the left AJ I.
Damien, Air Jordan VII Doernbecher (2016)
Budding rock star Damien added a guitar pick patch on the foxing of his original design, inspired by his favorite guitar, and which includes his initials “DJP.” The patch appears on the left heel foxing of this year’s shoe.
Isaiah, Air Jordan IV Doernbecher (2011)
The side quarter panel and cupsole of the right shoe feature the green from Isaiah’s original design, which represents his perseverance through life’s ups and downs.
In honor of the 17th year of the program, only 17 pairs of the Air Jordan I “What The” Doernbecher were created. The first Air Jordan I “What The” Doernbecher, with a custom lasered box, was auctioned off during the Virtually Freestyle event on Feb. 25. The remaining 16 pairs will later be auctioned on eBay, and all proceeds from the sale of the AJ1 “What The” Doernbecher pairs will benefit OHSU Doernbecher patients and staff in a variety of different ways – from the delivery of advanced clinical treatment to the emotional support that helps to lift spirits and spread hope.