Ask many kids and they will say that their wish helped them push through some of the most difficult times of their childhood. Ask Nathan and he will say that it not only helped him beat cancer, but led him to connect with his community, discover his passions, and achieve his career aspirations.
Nathan has always been a baseball enthusiast, spending most of his high school days in the dugout at his high school. Baseball brought Nathan a hobby, best friends and a community; and when life threw Nathan a curve ball, baseball brought him an unwavering support system.
Nathan was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 14 during his sophomore year of high school. Dealing with high school was hard enough as it is, but throwing cancer into the mix added a daily struggle of treatments and hospital visits that “no kid should ever have to face,” said Nathan.
The support Nathan received from his baseball team and his community is what inspired him to use his wish to give back: I wish to update the baseball field at my high school.
Not only was the field remodeled and upgraded, but on the day of the team’s final game, the community came together to celebrate Nathan with a special wish ceremony and guest appearances from Dan Wilson, former Mariner, and Taylor Graham, former Seattle Sounders FC player.
“There’s no way to put it into words how crazy that day was,” Nathan says, “It’s something I look back on and tear up about.”
Nathan had been playing and traveling the U.S. with his teammates since the age of 7. During his treatment, no matter what day of the week it was, they were at his house, hanging out with him, taking his mind off of it.
“I fell in love with the community and the outpouring of support that I had,” Nathan says. “I knew almost immediately that giving back to them would be my number one choice for my wish. Giving them the chance to enjoy the wish with me was such a unique opportunity and something I am forever grateful for.”
Flash-forward six years and Nathan is a healthy and accomplished wish alumni looking forward to the future. That’s because a wish being granted doesn’t signal the end, but the beginning of a life-long impact.
Nathan just graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a degree in exercise science. He will soon be taking on an internship at the Cancer Rehabilitation Institute at the University of Northern Colorado where he will be working with cancer survivors. He’s excited to give back; helping cancer survivors rehab and increase their quality of life.
The lasting power of a wish is more than just a happy memory for Nathan – it is the catalyst that drove him to beat cancer—twice!—excel in college, and pursue a career helping others in the fight of their lives.
“My wish helped me grow tremendously as a human. It changed my perspective on what it means to be a leader and an impactful person in the world and community,” said Nathan. “That’s what I looked for in colleges and is what I’m looking for in my job and my community. It’s all come around. That experience was so transformative.”
Although he is not home often, Nathan says that he will always drive by the field when he is. “Watching teams play gives me so much delight. Seeing my number on the outfield line is absolutely amazing,” Nathan said.
As Nathan said best, “Once you beat the disease you’re going through, your wish is something that’s going to last, going to be there the rest of your life. Wow, what an amazing opportunity that is.”