Nick, an eight year old hailing from Dracut, MA was diagnosed at age 3 with Neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor that develops in the nerve tissue. After relapsing three times, Nick has undergone more than 10 rounds of chemotherapy, and multiple rounds of radiation as well as a stem cell transplant. Nick is currently undergoing a new clinical trial treatment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute which will hopefully one day make him cancer free.
Nick and his family found out about Team IMPACT from another family whose son was drafted by a college athletic team.
Being a huge hockey fan it was only fitting that Nick was matched with Hockey East member UMass Lowell. On October 22, 2011 Nick and his mom Denise met the men's ice hockey team, Head Coach Norm Bazin, and Assistant Coach Dan Darrow on campus. Immediately Coach Bazin discussed with the team how Nick is a source of inspiration for the entire team. After being presented with a game stick, an official game jersey, and autographs from the players, Nick was given a full tour of the facilities and was filmed in front of the green screen so that he could be introduced at the beginning of each home game with the rest of his teammates. Denise was ecstatic with Nick's Draft Day and said "He is enjoying every minute of this experience- you can just see it in his face."
Since Draft Day, Nick has bonded with his team in many ways. Each week members of the team take time out of their schedule filled with classes, tests, papers, practices, and games to write personalized hand-written letters to Nick checking in with him and telling him about what is going on in their lives. On top of that, they also visit his home to take Nick on in street hockey and 'knee hockey'. To say Nick and his River Hawk teammates were a hit in the neighborhood is an understatement.
On a recent night when we were visiting with Nick and his family, it so happened that Riley was going to visit the home as well. Unlike us, Riley was there for a rematch against Nick in 'knee hockey'. As we sat chatting, an expectant Nick would run to the window about every 22 seconds to see if Riley was there yet. On several occasions mother Denise tried to settle him down, but Nick kept claiming he heard Riley's car, or saw his car light, or heard his car door shut. This went on, every 22 seconds for 15 minutes until Riley arrived. After a quick and cordial greeting, Riley was escorted downstairs by an excited Nick for a heated 'knee hockey' match on a random Monday night in November.
Later that week, Nick was surprised to find out that it was arranged to have his youth hockey team play in between periods of a UMass Lowell game. This exciting opportunity gave Nick the chance to have both of his teams together at the one place he loves to be- on the ice.