By Kelli Ritschel-Boehle
My son, Nik, was diagnosed with this difficult cancer — Synovial Sarcoma — about a month before his 18th birthday, and he reached heaven about a month after his 21st birthday.
Nik was blessed to have been granted a wish in the form of a vacation from the Make a Wish Foundation. It was an experience Nik treasured, and so did our family.
The memories the trip provided are priceless. Nik soon came to realize many cancer patients in his age group were not as fortunate as he. They were too old to take advantage of organizations like Make a Wish (stops at 18 years old), and yet too young to have their own resources. He wished there was something he could do.
The evening before he died, Nik asked me to listen to a special song. The lyrics were moving to him, and it was certainly how he lived his life: “To change the world, start with one step, however small, the first step is hardest of all.”
Please join me to “Take one step” to fulfill Nik’s vision at Nik’s Home Run 7k Race and 1.5-mile Fun Walk at 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Rockford Aviators’ Stadium, 4503 Interstate Blvd., Loves Park, Ill.
The Nikolas Ritschel Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, was established to fulfill Nik’s vision to enrich the lives of sarcoma cancer patients ages 18-24. Nik’s Home Run 7k Race and 1.5-mile Fun Walk raises money to provide enrichment for these patients to keep them looking toward the future with hope, faith and courage. In our inaugural year (2012), we raised enough money to send five young adult sarcoma cancer patients and their families on respites.
Harlan Jefferson will start the event with the National Anthem. Walkers will be accompanied by the City of Rockford Pipe Band and the Aviator himself on their 1.5-mile walk. They will finish in the stadium and cross home plate with their picture up on the Jumbotron!
There will be plenty of time to check out more than 40 cool silent auction items, including golf passes and a signed football from the Chicago Bears. Runners will be challenged to the “Northeast Beast,” a 7k (4.3 miles) run that will go through some of the area’s premier sporting and athletic venues. Starting at the Aviators’ Stadium, through the acres of the Northeast Family YMCA, around the Indoor Sports Center, through the Sportscore Two soccer fields and back through the tunnel and into the stadium, around the warning track with the final sprint down the third-base sideline and across home plate.
The event will be packed with music, food and fun — and all to “Take one step” to help! Hope to see you there!
To find out more information and register, please visit us at www.nikolasritschelfoundation.org.
From the Oct. 23-29, 2013, issue