This month, NIKE will show up for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, as they always do – BIG. During a month of Play4Kay games nationwide, we will see the shoes, socks, shirts, and jerseys of the NIKE Kay Yow Collection. NIKE is the gift wrap of this incredibly special time.
But how did it start?
The NIKE Kay Yow partnership started, as all truly great partnerships do, with a relationship. In classic Kay Yow Cancer Fund fashion, this relationship started with Kay Yow. Her spirit, her presence, her heart.
On a NIKE coaches’ trip to upstate New York, Eric Lautenbach, Senior Director of Basketball Sports Marketing at NIKE sat down to play the piano in the lobby of the hotel. Kay Yow sat down alongside and started requesting hymns. It was a cherished moment; one Eric still remembers fondly.
That was spring of 2008. NIKE was already on board as a founding partner and Coach Yow was in the final months of her life. In the months and years that followed, NIKE’s support only grew stronger.
What does that look like now?
Highlights of a 14-year partnership include exclusive Kay Yow collection shoes from signature athletes Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and the late Kobe Bryant; the 2013 Oregon Football helmet auction which was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and ESPN’s “College GameDay;” the explosion of the NIKE Elite Kay Yow sock that took the planet by storm; and 14 years of financial support through royalties and donated product.
This weekend the Kay Yow Cancer Fund will host the 6th annual Celebration Run/Walk, an event that honors and uplifts cancer survivors, their families, and caregivers. NIKE donated the product for the event—the shirts, the fundraising incentive items – the branding that makes the event one of a kind. But that is NIKE, one of a kind and second to none.