Sneakers, Sports Memorabilia & Modern Collectibles

The Heartfelt History Behind the Nike Doernbecher Program

By Gabrielle Archibald
Buy Doerbnecher shoes at Sotheby's today. Explore our selection of Doernbecher Jordans and other coveted Nike Doernbecher designs at our online Sneaker Shop .

What is the Doernbecher Program?


In 2004, Nike embarked on a partnership with the Doernbecher Children's Hospital that would leave a lasting impression on both the lives of young patients and the sneaker world as a whole. At the heart of the initiative was Michael Doherty, a Nike executive who serves on the board of directors for the Doernbecher Foundation. Recognizing the hospital’s importance, he proposed an idea to generate funds for the hospital while offering a special opportunity to the patients. His idea was simple yet powerful; a yearly collection of limited edition sneakers designed by the patients themselves. For almost two decades, we have seen their stories come to life and felt their bravery and resilience through the creativity of their designs.

This sneaker collaboration between Nike and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital reminds us of the positive difference businesses can make in the lives of those in need, proving that success can be measured not only in profit but in the lives that were transformed as well. At Sotheby’s, we have the honor of presenting these limited edition sneakers. Read more to learn about Doernbecher Jordans for sale now, and each of their individual stories.

Nike Doernbecher Shoes Available Now

1. Nike Air Jordan 2 Retro Doernbecher 

Designed by Sheridan Brenton, the survivor of a traumatic car accident, this Nike Jordan Doernbecher release was launched in 2007. The paisley colorway is accompanied by a black suede upper with pebbled leather side panels. In addition, the top eyelets, side panels and outsole of the sneaker shine bright with gold accents. Personal touches on this Jordan Doernbecher include the one-of-a-kind "Proverbs 8:28" sun embroidery on the tongue, the number "35" written on the inner tags, and the 35 perforations on the forefoot, which match Brenton's jersey number.

2. Nike Air Jordan 3 Retro Doernbecher

Noted as a favorite from the Nike Doernbecher collection, Cole Johanson ignited the sneaker world with his fire red approach to the Nike Air Jordan 3. Released in 2010, this Nike Doernbecher Air Jordan 3 Retro is coated in a red upper that features black accents alongside a red elephant print on the toe box. “COURAGE” and “STRENGTH” are displayed on the insoles, acknowledging his fight with lymphoma. Additionally, Cole’s name is spelled out through the diamond pattern adorning the lateral panels. This Doernbecher Jordan was so groundbreaking that a retro version was released again in 2013.

3. Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro Doernbecher

This Nike Air Jordan 4 Doernbecher by Isaiah Scott serves as a powerful testament to the courage he displayed during his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. During this time, Scott found solace in his idol Superman, the epitome of compassion and fearlessness. Superman’s story served as a source of inspiration behind this Doernbecher 4, which masterfully combines elements of his imagination and insights that are loved by many. This Jordan Doernbecher 4 showcases a black nubuck upper, with bright green and blue accents on the midsole, branding and eyestay. The tongue highlights the iconic Superman “S” logo and a silhouette of Isaiah’s face donned on the heel.

4. Nike Air Jordan 6 Retro Doernbecher

Dressed in a stylish suede blue upper with a poignant imprint of "06/08," symbolizing the significant milestone of the end of his treatment, Jordan Dark poured his heart into creating one of the most successful Doernbecher Jordans in 2009. The Nike Doernbecher Jordan 6 Retro design stands out with a vibrant combination of colors and features such as a bright red tongue and heel tab. It proudly rests atop a striking red and blue midsole, which complements the translucent outsole, giving the Jordan Doernbecher its own unique flair. Adding to the Jordans appeal, Dark asks a powerful question of “WHAT TIME IS IT” to which he responds “GAME TIME” which is placed on the right and left tongue tabs. His message urges us to make the most of our opportunities and to approach challenges with a winning attitude. This 2009 Jordan Doernbecher design was so popular, that like the Air Jordan 3 Retro Doernbecher, it was revisited in 2019 as a part of the Doernbecher 15th Anniversary Series.

Available for Immediate Purchase

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