ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A local mom is making life a little easier for young adults living with cancer.
“Nik’s Wish” in Rockford recently got an urgent request to help a boy in another state. The organization has touched 275 lives in the past decade, and the founder said that she is just executing her son’s last request.
“Nik’s Wish is the inspiration of my son Nik,” said Kelli Ritschel-Boehle, founder of the Nikolas Ritschel Foundation.
Nik was diagnosed with cancer right before his 18th birthday. He was granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation since he fit the age requirements. His death in 2012 sparked a mission to help others.
“When he went through cancer treatment, he came across a lot of other kids, one in particularly, that missed out on Make-A-Wish; he was diagnosed one month past his 18th birthday,” Ritschel-Boehle said. “He didn’t qualify for Wish. That broke Nik’s heart, so the night before cancer took his life, he asked me if I’d help them get a wish too.”
That was where the Nikolas Ritschel Foundation was formed. They have been in the wish-making business, for young adults between the ages of 18-24 battling cancer, for the past 10 years. That includes 20-year-old Rolando, who was on his last days fighting a form of leukemia called ALL.
“His last wish was to go home to Guatemala and see his mom before he passes,” Ritschel-Boehle said.
Rolando needed special medical transportation, so it was not as simple as buying a commercial flight, according to Ritschel-Boehle.
“Then when he got there, it was a two-hour journey for him to get to the very rural areas,” she said. “This is a very poor, humble family, and his last wish was just to get home. He made it there safely, he got home to his mom and his cousins, and he was able to pass quietly surrounded by love of his family.”
Ritschel-Boehle is proud to be able to continue her son’s legacy by bringing hope to other families.
“It certainly fulfills a vision of my son,” she said. “It was not my vision, it was his vision, and every time I deliver a wish, I think he’s smiling in heaven saying, ‘I told you so mom, they needed that.’”
The cost of a wish was typically around $6,000, but it has gone up this year. “Nik’s Wish” is behind on their budget for wishes, so they are asking for any donations within “Giving Tuesday.”