Wilmot Uses Graphic Design Skills to Help ‘Stomp Out Cancer’

Wilmot Uses Graphic Design Skills to Help ‘Stomp Out Cancer’

So defining was Ryan Wilmot’s (G09) recent project with Nike that, just four years into his dream job with the worldwide apparel giant, he says he already knows it will be a career highlight.

Usually, Wilmot, an art and design major while at George Fox, works behind the scenes as an apparel graphic designer for University of Oregon field sports at Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. But this fall he stepped into the media limelight when a special project he worked on debuted on the football field at Autzen Stadium. It was the culmination of a more than yearlong effort that raised over $1 million to fight cancer.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, the Oregon football team hosted the University of Nebraska, taking the field with new uniforms, helmets, a base layer, socks, gloves and cleats designed using the ideas of pediatric cancer patients at Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Design element created by Ryan Wilmot

Among the design elements created by Wilmot and inspired by 10-year-old cancer survivor Sophia was a logo of the Oregon Duck mascot stomping out cancer.

Nike teamed three of its designers with three patients and three Oregon football players. The result was new team uniforms and gear for fans, with 100 percent of sales proceeds used to fund pioneering medical research, purchase state-of-the-art equipment, recruit leading pediatric specialists and cover the cost of care for families in need.

Wilmot was paired with 10-year-old Sophia Malinoski of Portland, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. They teamed up to design the helmet and a logo featuring Donald Duck stomping out cancer, in addition to turning the second “o” in Oregon into a yellow cancer ribbon. Wilmot also created a camouflage pattern used on tights and footwear, incorporating illustrations, meaningful words to the patients, and imagery from around Oregon, all symbolizing the fight the kids and families wage against cancer and their victory over it.

“The response has been overwhelming,” says Wilmot. “As incredible as game day was, seeing the players take the field in that uniform, the most incredible part to me has been the lasting legacy of the project.” He has even seen photos of friends with cancer wearing the Oregon Freestyle gear that he designed during their chemo treatments.

The impact of the project on Wilmot was especially personal. While in high school, he spent time at Seattle Children’s Hospital undergoing brain surgery and the subsequent recovery. “That experience was incredibly defining in my own life, so when I had this opportunity to work with three amazing kids from Doernbecher ... I felt an immediate bond with them and their families,” he says.

That bond was especially close with Sophia. “(She) has the same scar as I do on the back of her head, so that was a very cool connection.”

“The Doernbecher project is something I will remember as one of the highlights of my career,” Wilmot continues. “Working at Nike was always the dream job for me. Being able to fuse together my love for sport and my love for design into what I get to do every day is incredible.”