Elijah Diggins doesn’t like to brag. He’ll tell you he likes to play baseball, then you’ll learn that his team won the state championship and was featured on ESPN.
He’ll say he’s a pretty good pitcher, then his dad will point out all the boards that have been knocked out of their garden shed by his son’s killer throw (Elijah conscientiously replaces everyone).
The point is, behind all that modesty is a tenacious kid with untold reserves of strength. His spirit was put to the test last year when he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s leukemia and underwent a tough course of chemo at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital’s pediatric hematology/oncology unit.
To cope, he relied on the support of his family and friends, who shaved an “E” into their hair in solidarity. He also created a video journal to share his feelings about the experience.
“I’d let you see it, but it’s kinda private,” he grinned.
His journal may be confidential, but Elijah poured his heart into his shoe for all the world to see. It features his very own smiley-face logo, which turns into his initials when viewed sideways. The fiery red and black palette is a tribute to his favorite athlete, Lebron James. On the tongue, you’ll find Japanese characters that symbolize courage, along with Elijah’s signature.
And the graphic on the sockliner is taken straight from his most prized possession – a silver bracelet that was a gift from his parents on his 13th birthday. For Elijah, his design is more than a great hoop shoe – it’s a very personal thank you note to the place that he credits with saving his life.
“When I was in the hospital, I kept thinking ‘Doernbecher has done so much for me – how am I going to give back?’” We can’t think of a better way.
“Elijah is a remarkable young man. His integrity, bravery and class with which he has approached his cancer is impressive, and he unknowingly sets a great example for other children with life-threatening illnesses.” – Shelton Viola, M.D., fellow in pediatric hematology/oncology, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital
The 2013 limited-edition Doernbecher Freestyle Collection includes apparel and footwear and will be sold at www.nike.com and at Nike retail locations across the country. All proceeds benefit OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
Associate Director of Development
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation