Halfmoon, N.Y. >> A Greenwich teen on Monday thanked the man who helped fulfill his Make-A-Wish dream of visiting the Nike campus in Portland, Ore. earlier this year.
The stewardship meeting between the trip’s benefactor John Cole, owner of Cole’s Collision Centers, and 15-year-old Tyler Murray was a joyful one with smiles and laughter all around.
Murray is battling Cystic Fibrosis. When asked last year by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York to make a wish, Murray, a Nike footwear aficionado, asked to visit the company’s production campus and meet famed designer Tinker Hatfield.
Cole donated $12,000 to fund the wish that sent the four members of the Murray family to Oregon and back. As a memento of Cole’s largess, Murray presented him with a framed “Wish Poster Print” of his trip and his meeting with Hatfield.
“This is our 30th anniversary,” said Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York CEO William Trigg. “In that time we’ve fulfilled more than 1,750 wishes that have taken recipients from the 518 area code to 15 countries. In this year alone we had one recipient visit President Obama, a papal visit with Pope Francis, and this trip to Nike headquarters.”
The recipient of the wish, Murray, said he likes the design, care, and thought that goes into producing Nike footwear. He owns a dozen pairs at the moment.
Two weeks before leaving for Oregon he chanced upon a Netflix series that had an entire episode on Tinker Hatfield, the man who designed the world’s first cross trainer and the famed basketball footwear Air Jordan 3 through the 2015 version, Air Jordan XX9.
“They make shoes for so many sports,” Murray said recalling his visit. “The basketball shoe is made to be light but with a lot of traction. It also has to be comfortable and have a good look to it. There are athletes all over the campus and they are testing all the shoes they make for all conditions. I saw them running in a wind tunnel.”
When asked what it was like to finally meet Hatfield, a former high school and college athletic star who is also an architect, Murray said he found him to be “a very nice guy”.
“He had so many stories to tell,” Murray said. “He gets ideas from all sorts of things and then he just starts drawing.”
Murray’s mother Sarah attended the stewardship meeting also and remarked on how generous the company was to the family during its visit.
“I was shocked at all the generosity and helpfulness we received while we were out there,” Sarah Murray said. “It was only later, after we thought about it, that we realized they were all athletes.”
Business owner John Cole said he was glad to help see Murray’s wish fulfilled. He and and his wife are philanthropists at heart and contribute to 23 charities every year.
“This was the third wish we’ve helped fulfill,” he said. “We helped one youngster with leukemia go to Disneyworld, we helped one with the restoration of a 1983 Ford Mustang and we helped Tyler go the Nike campus.”
Cole said he was lucky to defeat a childhood illness before there was an organization like Make-A-Wish and decided whenever asked to help young people with disabilities or handicaps he would do so.
“When we met Tyler and his family it was clear how much the trip would mean to them,” Cole said. “We’re grateful we are in a position to help make his wish come true.”
Trigg said the organization offers four kinds of wishes; meeting a celebrity, going someplace special, a request for something special, and the chance to be someone special for a day. After hearing about everything the family did while on the Nike campus Trigg said Murray had touched all four categories with the one trip.
“He met a celebrity designer, went to the Nike campus which most people will never visit, he and his brother both received a limited edition pair of shoes, and he got to design his own shoe and then they sent him a dozen pairs afterward. Nike has been great to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We’re very proud of our relationship with them.”
Murray, who has a size 11 foot, said he was selective in choosing the limited edition shoes.
“I got Jordan 14s in green,” he said. “It’s the Oregon Ducks edition.”