The audience claps. The video of Nicholas’ tale leads to more than a few tears.
More than 120 surgeries and procedures. Practically from head to toe. Cerebral palsy. Brain bleeds. Heart surgery. Shunts. Then onto wheelchairs, walkers, physical therapy.
It’s all flashing through Big Nicholas’ head as he and wife Karlie watch their 5-year-old's story.
Little Nick is a tad nervous even though he isn’t admitting it. It’s a big crowd and few know it but he’s about to be center stage at the Rock the Night VIP Auction to raise money for kids like Nick at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “You’re a rock star buddy,” Big Nicholas whispers as Nick peeks out at the crowd.
Little Nick doesn’t understand much about the fundraising part, but he gets that he’s about to walk out on that stage—walker-free—for a crowd that is already madly in love with him sight-unseen. It’s an easy gig to be sure.
Jason, the auctioneer, who is here to help get the crowd rolling as Little Nick—now tickled pink from the cheers—makes his way to center stage. Jason calls out an ask—it is a fundraiser, after all—but no one immediately volunteers. So, Nick, ad-libbing, says, “I don’t think they have that much money.” Crowds cheer and not too surprisingly, several people raise their hands.
This particular crowd gets it. They’ve seen what this hospital is capable of, especially with help from their philanthropy. Many have supported Johns Hopkins All Children’s for years. They’ve purchased life-saving equipment, sponsored fellows and residents and watched entire buildings rise from the Earth to educate, research, simulate and train.
It means a lot to them to see this beautiful little success story walking out on stage, with nothing more than his own will and determination. They believe—rightfully—that they may have had something to do with his—and many others’—success.
Yes, it’s an epic moment. For Nick’s parents overtaken with pride; for the auctioneer who is instantly reminded why he does what he does; for the audience who sees the reason in the flesh for their dedication; for Little Nick’s neurosurgeon, sitting in the crowd, quietly coughing away that lump in his throat.
For an entire hospital who lives and breathes for unforgettable moments like this.
For little boys like Little Nick taking a bow.