Senior Nic Weishar honors his brother on and off the field
When Notre Dame senior tight end Nic Weishar scored his first career touchdown, he took a piece of his brother with him.
"Andrew our fighting hero. Faith, Courage and Strength. When he was first diagnosed we had these made and I haven't taken them off since. It means a lot to me just to look down and think about him and just know he's here," Weishar said. "I have it over my tape in the games, so it's always there."
Weishar always looked up to his oldest brother Andrew.
"So my brother Andrew was a big influence on me in my football career. Just watching him play on that field as a grade schooler was pretty cool under the lights and having your big brother be a star player is pretty spectacular," Weishar said.
Andrew played on the line for Brother Rice High School in Chicago and went on to play at Illinois Wesleyan.
"He was just kind of a nasty player on the field. You wouldn't really expect it off the field, but he had this grittiness to him. That was the kind of person he was, not always wanting the attention, but willing to do the dirty work for the betterment of the team," Weishar said.
In April of 2010, Andrew and his family received devastating news. Andrew was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
It never stopped him from continuing to support those around him, especially his little brother during the college football recruiting process.
"He was going through treatments but he wasn't in school so I was able to bring him on a lot of the visits and his opinion was one of the most I valued," Weishar said.
One trip stood out.
"It was just special to have him here. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, everybody seems to be a big Notre Dame fan. It was cool to see campus, see football facilities, spend time with all the coaches and having him here made it even more special. We have a great picture of him touching the Play Like A Champion sign, too," Weishar said.
Andrew lost his battle with cancer on October 12, 2012. He was just 21 years old.
"We were all at home with Hospice at Home, surrounded by people he loved, a bunch of friends and family. And even then, it was incredible his whole persona, saying he was still going to fight it, so he provided so much hope to everybody there," Weishar said.
Although his heart was broken, Weishar's college decision was still looming that's when he felt he received a sign at Andrew's wake.
"There was a Play Like A Champion Sign and there was a hashtag #Weish4Ever as soon as I saw that I was like 'wow, that's pretty incredible.' so that was a literal sign that I think led me here," Weishar said.
Now, each time Weishar takes the field at Notre Dame Stadium he thinks of his brother.
"Every time I touch that I have Andrew in my mind and it's pretty cool," Weishar said.
As Weishar and his family move forward, they have found a way to remember and honor Andrew every day.
"Before Andrew passed he sat the family down and said, 'The one thing I want from all this is to be able to pay forward the kindness and generosity that we've received," Weishar said.
His family created the Andrew Weishar Foundation to help other families with children fighting cancer.
"Cancer is a huge financial burden, whether it be little things you don't even think of like paying for parking in Chicago when you're going to the hospital for treatment. We've helped over 85 families so far hopefully we'll just keep getting bigger and bigger," Weishar said.
Weish Fest will be December 1st on Bourbon Street in Chicago. This year's headliner is Third Eye Blind.
Visit the Weish Fest website for more information.