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Vanessa's transformational journey

Vanessa, 15, Florida

“ There are no words big enough to describe how awesome today was. ”


- Vanessa, wish child

Beyond the sprawling grounds, a beautiful lake and running trails lies a world that few outsiders have had the privilege of seeing. Fifteen-year-old wish child Vanessa not only got a special glimpse into that world, she left transformed.

Vanessa, who lives in Davie, Florida, loves basketball and soccer. When she was at the hospital battling myeloid leukemia, she spent much of her time looking at different kinds of shoes on the internet. That’s how she came to admire the Nike brand. So for her wish, Vanessa wanted to see how Nike shoes are made.

Vanessa meeting with Nike shoe designer Eric AvarVanessa’s wish experience at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton started with a special visit with Eric Avar, the designer of the Kobe Bryant shoe. Following an exclusive tour of the campus, Vanessa met Howard White, Vice President of Nike’s Jordan Brand, who made an instant connection with her. He noticed Vanessa’s glowing personality and brilliant smile, and called her his “Princess of Light.” He even gave her a charm in the shape of a golden shoe because it captured and reflected light in a similar way as Vanessa.

The idea of bringing light and sharing it with others carried through the day. When Vanessa got to design her own Nike shoe, she chose to make it iridescent white and incorporated elements of her medical journey into the design.

Vanessa receiving signed jersey from Abby WombachThe girl who admired Nike is now in complete awe. “There are no words big enough to describe how awesome today was,” said Vanessa.

With every turn came another surprise, another special moment. U.S. Women’s Soccer Team star Abby Wambach stopped by to chat with Vanessa and give her a jersey signed by the entire team.

It’s moments like these – from the inside tours and visits with the basketball design team to the hands-on experiences and meeting of a world renowned athlete - that made Vanessa feel special, made her light shine even brighter.

Many thanks to Make-A-Wish board member and Nike employee, Sarah Huffman, for escorting Vanessa and her family, and to the many Nike team members who took time out of their day to make this wish so special.

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