Toward the end of his battle with cancer, Andrew Weishar was offered hospice care, but he declined.
“He said, ‘I am not done fighting,’” Andrew’s brother, Nic Weishar recalls.
“It’s that kind of stuff that was really remarkable. I don’t know if it was because of his athletic background and competition, but he really treated the cancer like it was another competitor he was going to beat. That was his way of thinking the whole process and it really lifted everybody else’s spirits. When you talked with him, you probably felt better after the conversation with him. It was pretty remarkable.”
Andrew Weishar (pictured) was a standout student-athlete at Brother Rice High School in Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan University before he learned he had cancer at 19 years old. He battled the disease for two years before passing in his sleep on Oct. 12th, 2012.
“A few days before he passed, he told my brother Danny that the only thing he wants is for us to be able to pay it forward, meaning all of the generosity and kindness that our family was shown while he went through his two-year battle with cancer,” Nic says.
So they started the Andrew Weishar Foundation to do exactly that.
“There are a bunch of different benefactors of the organization, but the main thing we’re going to focus on is giving back to families that are affected by cancer that need help with the financial toll that cancer causes on the family,” Nic says. “That’s going to be the main goal for the Andrew Weishar Foundation.”
The foundation will hold its first major event this Sunday, Sept. 1st at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood, Ill. WeishFest will be an all-day music festival featuring three bands – Sean and Charlie, Infinity and The Trippin Billies.
And they’re using Andrew’s quote about not being done fighting to help promote the event.
“My brother Danny is the president of the foundation and thought of the whole idea,” says Nic. “This is what he felt was the best thing to do. We’re hoping for a big crowd on Sunday and to raise a lot of money for a great cause. It’s just going to be a great time.”
The Weishars have already reached out to other families in their own community who have children stricken with cancer.
“My parents call their parents and things like that and just try to help them through the process as much as they can,” Nic explains. “This is really the first time for the foundation to really give back to those families, so we’re looking forward to a great day.”
Nic’s advice to families going through it is two-fold.
“Personally, growing up Catholic, I would say ‘Keep the faith,’” he says. “I became closer with God through this whole process of seeing my brother struggle. The next thing after that is to stay as positive as possible around the person who has cancer and just keep their spirits up. My brother was the one keeping our spirits up when he went through it, so it was kind of strange.
“It’s something my family still talks about it to this day. It was remarkable how he handled the whole situation.”
Nic laughs when asked how people are going to remember his brother.
“A lot of people are going to remember his smile,” he says. “It’s pretty corny, but he had a great smile that could really light up the room. He was just a fun kid to be around.”
But Nic, who is committed to Notre Dame as a tight end in the 2014 recruiting class, has something else too.
“The thing that I’m going to miss most about him – the thing I already do miss about him – is he was always my biggest critic after every game,” he says. “I could have had 15 catches for 200 yards and he still would find something to critique me about, which was great and kept me level-headed through the whole recruiting process.
“I’m definitely going to miss coming home from games and having him tell me what I did wrong. I’ll be thinking about the things he said to me last year and reminding myself of those things. I’m sure I’m going to be my own biggest critic now that he’s gone. He definitely taught me everything I know about football. He was a great role model and coach for me throughout my whole life.
“I miss him.”