Throughout his life golf has given Nick an avenue to express himself and a way to escape from thoughts about his medical condition.
“I was born with a heart defect which limits me from playing contact sports,” he says. “In my family sports are king, so golf is what I have done since I was able to walk.“
He started playing golf at age four and was instantly hooked. Nick said, “I just couldn’t get enough golf. I ate, drank, played and dreamed golf for about fifteen years.”
As Nick entered high school it became apparent that he would need to have open heart surgery. In the spring of 2009 Nick underwent his surgery at Christ Hospital. The surgery was long and the recovery time was even longer. After Nick was discharged from the hospital there was a recovery period of two weeks before he could go back to school. “Being home from school was bearable,” he said, “But what I could not stand was the time I had to take off from golf.” Nick had a six month recovery period before he was cleared to return to the game he loves. “The waiting almost drove me insane. All of my friends were out there playing golf while I was stuck at home on the couch.” However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
After his surgery Nick learned he was eligible to have a wish granted so his parents referred him to Make-A-Wish.
“I knew immediately what I wanted to wish for,” he said. Just over a year later Nick met and played 18 holes with Anthony Kim at TPC Los Calinas in Dallas, TX.
“It was easily one of the best days of my life,” Nick says. His wish did not end after the round of golf was over. Anthony invited Nick and his family back to his house in Dallas for dinner. “Anthony is an amazing guy,” Nick said, “He gave me a set of clubs, his own putter, ordered us some food, gave us insight into his life and ultimately gave me the gift of a life-long friendship. “
“The impact of my wish is something that is in the front of my mind every day of my life. Seeing all of the joy that was brought to my family because of the wish inspired me to make a meaningful impact in others’ lives,” he said. Currently, Nick is entering his senior year of college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a major in Communication and a minor in Leadership Studies. He has spoken at Make-A-Wish fundraising events and is currently spending the summer as an intern at the Make-A-Wish Illinois Chicago office.
When I asked him about his plans for the future Nick said, “I am proud to say that Make-A-Wish has played a huge role in shaping my life into what it is today. Going through the wish process and now working for Make-A-Wish has put my life into perspective.” Nick went on to say, “Every child who is facing a life threatening illness deserves to have their wish granted, and I want to be on the team that can make that happen. The power of a wish is stronger than many people think. A wish has the ability to bring hope, strength and joy not only into the life of the wish recipient, but into the lives of everyone that comes into contact with the wish as well. ”