Freestyle XIX: Hugo Covarrubias Molina | OHSU Foundation

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Age: 14
Hometown: Hermiston, OR
Diagnosis: Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome
Shoe: Air Jordan 3 Retro

It’s not easy being different. And no one knows this better than Hugo, who was born with a rare disorder that causes large birthmarks, abnormal blood vessels and the overgrowth of bone and soft tissue on one side of his body. “When I was in elementary school, the kids used to bully me,” he admitted. “I used to go home and cry.”

Hugo shows off the sole of his shoe, which is translucent green with the words "it's OK to be different" in his handwriting.

“It was a hard time,” recalled his mom, Dulce. “But I told him that not everybody looks the same and that being different makes you special.”

Hugo's hoody sweatshirt is gray with black arms and alternating green and lettering that says HUGO and JUICE. Green juice appears to drip from the top of the pocket.

Over the years, Hugo has learned to embrace his uniqueness and designed a shoe that encourages others to do the same. On the outsole, you’ll find words to live by: It’s okay to be different. (Incidentally, Hugo’s dad Ricardo has a tattoo of the same phrase in Hugo’s handwriting.)

As for those colorful drips of green and blue, those are a nod to Hugo’s nickname, “Juice,” as well as a shout-out to his favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks. And because Hugo loves to bring the bling, his custom logo hang tag (that is interchangeable as a pendent) is plated with 24-carat gold.

When he’s not playing outside with his brothers, Hugo enjoys playing video games and working as the team manager for his school’s football and basketball teams. This style-savvy teen also dreams of owning his own barbershop one day, so he can help others look their best.

Hugo hopes that his shoe will inspire people to accept and value the uniqueness of others. And to the kids who struggle with bullying, he shared a powerful bit of advice:

“Just be strong and hold your head high,” he said. “Everyone is different, and being different is awesome.”