With his name being accompanied alongside Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan Retro 9 sneakers, 11-year-old Oswaldo Jimenez is the new designer of his very own Nike shoes called "POLLITOS," or the "Chickens." READ STORY HERE
Gone are the words "Air Jordan" on the tongue of the sneaker. Instead, it is replaced with "POLLITO."
With his name being accompanied alongside Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan Retro 9 sneakers, 11-year-old Oswaldo Jiménez is the new designer of his very own Nike shoes that go on sale Friday. They are called "POLLITOS," or the "Baby Chicken" in English.
The Mexican boy was one of six children selected for the Nike/Doernbecher Freestyle program, which allows patients from the Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Oregon to design their own Nike shoes in ways that "reflect their individual stories and personalities."
Oswaldo, after suffering a series of fainting spells, was diagnosed with a heart condition called severe pulmonary hypertension a year ago by doctors at the Portland children's hospital.
Each of the children in the program were given the opportunity to design their own shoe including choosing the colors, materials and details used. The program, now in its ninth year, has raised over $4 million. All the proceeds benefit the Oregon Health and Science University and help give necessary funding to develop clinical programs, build hospitals and provide crucial medical coverage for the children.
The sneaker comes in a black/white/gold colorway. With a lasered feather pattern and fighting chicken graphic on the sock liner, "POLLITO" pays homage to Oswaldo's Mexican roots with a with a red and green outsole option. His favorite number, 17, is engraved on the back heel and his birth date, September 13, is inside the tongue.
"I feel really happy about that because I love my shoe. Everybody loves it. I loved how I designed it. I'm happy with that. I like it pretty much," Oswaldo told Fox News Latino. "It will help other kids."
The "POLLITO" was also inspired by Oswaldo's family nickname, "El Pollito," the little chicken.
"Osvaldito was a pain in the neck when it came to eating. I remember he would like the rice soup that we would make for him. So he would take out the grains of rice and start eating them one by one,” his mother, Carmen Viviana Hernández, said while laughing.
“We would say ‘Oh you're like a pollo [chicken]’.”
Family Fights the Disease Together
Oswaldo's diagnosis came as a shock to the tight-knit family.
"The diagnosis was quite a tough blow," Hernández told Fox News Latino in Spanish. "It was obvious that the life of my child was totally going to change."
The once active little boy, who loved swimming, can no longer fully participate in sports because he has to be careful with the energy that his body exerts. Oswaldo’s condition brings a lot of pain to his father, who longs for his son to be able to play soccer and football the same way other young children can.
"We'd go out there to play and kick the ball around. For him to all of sudden not be able to play has been tough," said the father, Martin Jiménez. "He'll look out the window and see kids riding their bicycles. He wants to go out there."
The family was surprised when they were approached to be a part of the Nike program that they weren't aware even existed.
"My son felt excluded because of what he was going through. This has lifted his spirits," Hernández said. "It filled him inside with that need to once again feel good. I'm very appreciative to know that people like them exist."
Oswaldo’s father said that love and support has helped the family persevere and march forward together, more united than ever.
His mother has come away surprised by how much Oswaldo has matured over the past 11 months. She said it was tough on him at first as the family made frequent emergency trips on weekends to the hospital. He was even scared of going to the bathroom by himself, she said.
The family hopes that with everything that Nike and the Doernbecher Children's Hospital have done to raise funds for children with different types of illnesses, a cure can be found not only for their son but others as well.
"Why not?" the father said. "A miracle can happen. There's been many. Why not another one?"
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc