In the MJFF Winter 2011 newsletter, we highlighted the Foundation's unique partnership with Nike to release the 2011 MAG--which thrilled sneakerheads and Back to the Future fans and generated $9.4 million for Parkinson's research.
In September, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) was the recipient of an act of generosity unprecedented in the space-time continuum when footwear giant Nike announced the limited-edition release of the 2011 Nike MAG to benefit MJFF.
An exact replica of the Back to the Future II shoes worn by Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in the year 2015, 1,500 pairs of the shoes were auctioned on eBay’s Fashion Vault over a 10-day period, with net proceeds totaling over $4.7 million. Thanks to the $50-million Brin Wojcicki Challenge, that gift was doubled to result in a jaw-dropping $9.4 million generated for the Foundation’s aggressive research programs to speed a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
The project was the vision of Mark Parker, Nike CEO, who was on the Back to the Future II set in 1988 when Fox donned the original Nike MAG shoes. Development of the shoe was overseen by Tinker Hatfield, the original Nike MAG designer and vice president of design at Nike, and Pam McConnell, Nike’s global director of entertainment marketing.
“We wanted to translate the excitement people have for the ‘greatest shoe never made’ and for Back to the Future into positive action,” said Parker. “But the long-term objective was to raise awareness to help the Foundation achieve their goal of eradicating Parkinson’s disease.”
When the original Back to the Future creative team learned of Nike’s desire to support MJFF with the release of the 2011 Nike MAG shoes, Executive Producer Frank Marshall joined the effort. A concept was hatched to develop a ‘Lost Scene’ to honor the original Back to the Future films and characters. Original cast members Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) and Donald Fullilove (Goldie Wilson) reprised their beloved roles, and actor Bill Hader and basketball star Kevin Durant joined the Back to the Future legacy as store clerk and customer, respectively. (Tinker Hatfield had a cameo as a sales manager.) The Lost Scene quickly racked up over 3 million views on YouTube, becoming the number-one viral video on the Web.
Michael J. Fox kicked off a whirlwind of excitement around the project, appearing on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on September 8 to reveal the MAG to the world and officially launch the eBay auctions that closed on September 18.
The timing couldn’t have been better, as the Challenge, effective through 2012, was announced earlier this year and is made possible by the leadership of longtime Foundation friends Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of personal genetics company 23andMe.
“The enthusiasm this project ignited, and the funds and awareness the shoes generated for Parkinson’s research, are both humbling and inspiring,” concluded Fox. “Our Foundation is truly grateful to Nike for this unique partnership that brought Back to the Future fans, sneakerheads and the PD community together in the quest to make Parkinson’s a thing of the past.”
-Lauren Anderson and Holly Barkhymer