Doernbecher patients design Nike shoes, apparel to give back to hospital
PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) - They're kids, just barely tweens, but they're already selling their fashion designs at Nike - and it's all for a good cause.
In her fifth-grade social studies class at Lenox Elementary School in Hillsboro, she's learning about the Central Lowlands, but Braylin Soon would rather be on Broadway.
"I really like New York, because I want to go, and I want to live there," said the 10-year-old.
And this aspiring actress is already famous for her fashion.
"I never imagined that I would ever get to design my own shoes, or even jacket or leggings."
But she has. She has a Nike collection.
"On the tag, it has Kermit, because I love Kermit," Braylin said, explaining her bright green shoes. Braylin's gear comes thanks to Doernbecher Freestyle - a program that lets hospital patients design their own collection. Braylin, called "Braylin the Brave" by her doctors, got a liver transplant when her liver failed from autoimmune hepatitis.
Which brings us to the six stars she had designed onto each shoe.
"My liver donor, she was 6 years old, and I felt like I needed to honor her and put her in my design," Braylin says. "It's a really good thing. It makes me feel like I have superpowers, like everywhere I step, she's with me."
Andy Grass, 12, also has a Doernbecher Freestyle collection. It's been almost two years since he was badly injured when a log rolled on him on the Oregon coast.
"It's a lion stepping on a log, because I just want to show myself conquering the log," Andy explains, describing the logo on the shoe's tongue.
Andy's whole collection is also a tribute.
"I really just wanted to thank a lot of people that helped me during my recovery," he said.
Andy listed all of his doctors and nurses on the inside of his jacket, and he didn't forget his mom - he incorporated the words "Love Mom" into his shoe design.
Andy said with a smile, "She was always there for me."
Both Andy and Braylin's shoes went up for auction, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation.
"It was just a really amazing experience," Braylin said.
Andy added, "It just feels great to know that I raised money to help other kids."
Doernbecher Freestyle has raised more than $16 million for the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation.
You can meet Andy, Braylin, and the four other designers Saturday at the Nike store downtown. If you want, you can even buy their gear.