Three years ago I watched in deep sadness the passing of my son, Nik. Grief overwhelmed me as the realization that all of Nik’s hopes and dreams for his own life and our family and friends hopes and dreams of sharing our lives with Nik were now gone. Little did I know that Nik planted a seed of love the night before he died. That seed of love was the Nikolas Ritschel Foundation.
Nik was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma just before his 18th birthday. He just made the cut off for the Make a Wish program. He loved that program because it kept his spirits high and hope for the future alive. When he realized that others like him missed out on this great program, he asked if we could do something. He knew that this type of thing was not anything that I really had done before, so he played me a song by Dave Mathews… “to change the world, start with one step… however small, the first step is hardest of all.” With the grace of God and help from family and friends, the Foundation was created with its first fundraising event, Nik’s Home Run!
October 24 at the Aviator’s Stadium, we will hold the fourth annual Nik’s Home Run 7k race, 1.5 mile walk and Silent Auction. The event has provided mini wishes for over twenty five AYA (adolescent young adult) cancer patients and their families. Wishes like Alec’s to eat in Vegas at Gordon Ramsey’s Restaurant (Alec passed away last year). Or Bea’s dream to see New York City or Amanda’s wish to spend a holiday in Florida with her family – we hope you will meet these ladies at the race. There are so many unique stories and amazing young people who need support during this difficult journey.
Nik knew the importance of having fun and this event shows it! The walkers and runners end in the stadium with the music playing as you finish by crossing home plate with your face up on the jumbo tron! You treat yourself to a baseball cake pop and some chili as you watch the bidding at the silent auction. You can score a signed Teow’s puck or Hull Jersey, Castro autographed baseball, or Bulls tickets. There will be over 100 items for your shopping fun. If you want to do a bit of bouncing, there is fun inflatables on the field or just kick back and listen to the stories of the incredible patients and their brave journeys. There are painted pumpkins and spinning wheels for prizes and for the top runners — $100 or age group trophies. If you get a running team together, you may win the most unique trophy ever… it is a baseball glove trophy with a real ball in it signed by your very own team members! While you are smiling, I will be remembering Nik’s big smile! See you at the race!
Kelli Ritschel Boehle