Born with a congenital heart condition, Nick is used to a living life without strenuous activity. While he grew up watching his friends play contact sports like football, basketball and hockey, he was dealing with medical restrictions and long recovery times from surgery. Golfing was an outlet in which he “felt more than average.” At 16-years-old, Nick learned that he qualified for a wish. In 2010, his wish was granted when he traveled to Dallas, Texas, with his family to meet Anthony and play 18-holes of golf with him.
“Golf was always a good way for me to cope with my diagnosis,” he said. “That’s why choosing a golf wish was an easy decision for me.”
A couple of years later, Nick graduated from high school and continued his studies in communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When the summer of 2015 rolled around, Nick sought out an internship with Make-A-Wish Illinois as the communications intern. A majority of his time was spent talking to wish families to produce content for the website.
“Being a communications intern and being able to talk to wish kiddos and families to recount their journey and give them a sort of time capsule of it online was so cool,” Nick said. “It was extremely interesting to learn more about the inner workings of Make-A-Wish and see the people that make this their career. Working in that environment was eye-opening.”
Wish Alum Now Volunteers on Associate Board
Now, at 25-years-old, Nick continues to stay connected as a newly elected Associate Board member of Make-A-Wish Illinois. He first learned about the opportunity to join this young professionals group focused on philanthropy after being a keynote speaker at the annual “I Wish to Party” event.
“I met a lot of great people on the Associate Board and was encouraged to go through the process and apply,” he said. “Being on the Associate Board is a tremendous honor to me and I look forward to contributing things I've learned from my professional life and wish experience to help grant a lot of wishes.”
The Associate Board is comprised of young professionals who host networking and fundraising events like “Wishes Uncorked” and “I Wish to Party”. Each member helps to raise funds through confirming event sponsorships, ticket sales and other contributions.
“I am trying to learn from all of the members and see where I can add value so that they can continue to be successful,” Nick said.
Last year, Nick participated in a video that all families receive to help explain the wish journey and what they might expect as their child discovers his or her wish. Hundreds of new wish children and their parents hear from him how a wish is more than a nice moment, but an experience that can build hope for a lifetime.
Nick and his family still reminisce and enjoy looking back at photos from his wish experience. Anthony Kim and Nick keep in touch as friends and catch up over dinner when either of them are in Chicago or Dallas.
“I’ll always have this condition, but I’ll always have the memories of my wish as well,” he said.
Nick realizes the important role that a wish can play for a child who has been diagnosed with a critical illness.
“A wish for a child struggling with a life-threatening illness is a way to escape their normal reality and give them something to motivate them for their treatment,” he explained. “It gives them a sense of normalcy and also gives them another avenue with their friends to be different but in a cool way. They get to do something that most of their friends don’t get to experience.”
When asked why he continued to stay involved with Make-A-Wish past his own wish and intern cycle Nick said, “I stay involved because of my wish and the impact it had on me and my family and all the positive memories that we reminisce on.” He went on to say, “I know the impact that wishes have on other children. I am not the only person to experience it and I’m not the last. There’s many more wishes to be granted! I want other children to be able to experience what I got to experience.”