Freestyle XIX: Garrett Amerson | OHSU Foundation

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Age: 12
Hometown: Yamhill, OR
Diagnosis: Extreme prematurity
Shoe: Nike ACG Mountain Fly 2 Low

“Such a big miracle for such a little child.”

—Poster hanging above Garrett’s bed

One pound, seven ounces: that’s how much Garrett Amerson weighed when he was born 15 weeks early. Measuring less than 12 inches long, Garrett went straight to the NICU, where he would remain for the next 107 days while his tiny body continued to grow. “We called him our pocket baby,” recalled his mom, Jenni. “It was two months before he was big enough for us to hold.”

When Garrett finally went home, he was on oxygen for a full year while his lungs continued to develop. He also needed eye surgery to correct a vision problem that’s common with preemies. But here’s the thing about kids born extremely early: They tend to be extremely tough. “Some of the more serious complications that you tend to see with premature babies never materialized with Garrett,” Jenni said. “He’s just a kid who decided to show up really, really early.”

Twelve years later, that tiny, tenacious baby has grown into a thriving teen who loves science, playing board games and collecting crazy hats. “I have about 20 of them,” he said excitedly. “Everything from a top hat to a pirate hat to a Sherlock Holmes hat.”

Garrett points to the tiny purple butterfly on the side of his shoe.

Garrett’s outdoorsy shoe is an ode to the Pacific Northwest, with a silhouette of Mt. Hood rising up behind the tree line and a waterfall cascading down the tongue. (He even added realistic mud splatters so you never have to worry about getting it dirty!)

For Garrett, the most meaningful feature is the purple butterfly that flits about not just on his shoe, but the other items in his collection as well. It represents his twin brother, Cooper, who passed away after a few days in the NICU. “The purple butterfly is placed on the incubator to show that the baby was part of a multiple pregnancy and sadly not all the babies survived,” explained Jenni. “Garrett really wanted to do something to honor his brother.”

Garrett shows off his Freestyle jacket, which is navy with a blue cloud and gold lightning bolts

Garrett hopes you’ll take his shoe on lots of adventures and wants you to know how much he enjoyed designing it for you. “I worked really hard on it because the more it sells, the more kids it will help,” he said.