The “Good News” Letter
Lifting up the non-profits & volunteers who serve the most vulnerable in our community
In each newsletter I send out, I intend to highlight a different local non-profit agency in DeKalb, Boone or Kane County. Non-profit agencies fill in the gap of providing critical services to the most vulnerable in our community. Government programs and services only go so far. It is the faith-based and non-profit agencies and their donors and volunteers who are the unsung heroes of our community.
For this week’s spotlight on a local non-profit, we are featuring Nik’s Wish, The Nikolas Ritschel Foundation. Please read below to learn about their mission to make dreams come true for young adult cancer warriors in Northern Illinois – and how you can help.
Please do not hesitate to contact my district office in Sycamore if I or a member of our staff may be of assistance to you. You can reach us by phone at (815) 748-3494 or via e-mail at Keicher@ilhousegop.org.
State Representative, 70th District
Spotlight on Local Non-Profit: Nik’s Wish, The Nikolas Ritschel Foundation
Nik’s Wish, The Nikolas Ritschel Foundation, is a small, all volunteer, Rockford-based, 501(c)(3) charity with a nationwide outreach. Our mission is to bring precious moments of joy to young adults, and their loved ones, fighting cancer. We do this by granting wishes for these young adults (ages 18-24) who are too old for Make-A-Wish type programs.
The most common wish is a family vacation at Disneyworld; but we’ve granted a wide variety of wishes, such as meeting bands like the Dixie Chicks and Metallica at their concerts, getting an iPhone, seeing Hamilton and meeting the cast, swimming with dolphins, getting a drone, attending an NBA all-star game, meeting Penn & Teller and eating at Gordon Ramsay’s Las Vegas restaurant. We’ve also granted some heart wrenching wishes, such as going home one last time to be loved ones. The most difficult granted wish is the one that goes unfulfilled, because the young adult passed away too soon.
If a young adult cancer warrior’s wish will bring joy and instill hope for the future, then one of our dedicated group of miracle-working, wish coordinating volunteers will make their “Nik’s Wish” come true. To fund these wishes we request donations, seek sponsorships, apply for grants, and actively participate in at least six fundraising events a year. Our biggest fundraiser is Nik’s Home Run , which is a 7K Run, 1.5 mile Fun Walk, and a huge Silent Auction held at the Rockford Rivets Stadium the 2nd Saturday in October.
The Nikolas Ritschel Foundation was born out of a courageous fight with cancer. Nik was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma beforehis 18th birthday; so, he was able to take a wonderful Make-A-Wish vacation with his family. Nik’s good friend, Nate was diagnosed with a similar cancer just months after his 18th birthday, making him ineligible for Make-A-Wish. So, as a compassionate, caring friend; Nik’s last wish, was for young adults to have a wish too. For nearly 7 years, Nik’s mom, Kelli, with a small group of dedicated volunteers, have kept Nik’s Wish alive by making the wishes of over 100 young adult cancer warriors come true.
We reach out to young adults, and their loved ones, fighting cancer to let them know about the opportunity to apply for a respite-type wish through Nik’s Wish. We do this by word-of-mouth of other young cancer warriors, by fundraising events highlighting those we’ve helped, by referrals from health care professionals (e.g. oncologists) whom we’ve worked with, and by our sponsors (e.g. Swedish American Regional Cancer Center) supporting Nik’s Wish. With this outreach we have granted wishes to 14 young adult cancer warriors in the Rockford area since the creation of the Nikolas Ritschel Foundation in 2012.
With the steadily increasing demand for wishes (20 wishes in waiting), we have continually grown in experience and effectiveness in granting and fulfilling wishes. Still, we need many more donations, sponsors, volunteers, and especially kindhearted, miracle-working wish coordinator volunteers to work directly with our young adult cancer warriors.
If you’d like to volunteer, please call Nik’s mom, Kelli Ritschel Boehle at 815-262-8825. If you’re interested in seeing how Nik’s Wish has helped families fighting cancer, would like to donate, or just want more information about us, please visit our website at www.nikolasritschelfoundation.org and/or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NikolasRitschelFoundation/ .