In honor of Father's Day, NF Hero Nick Gilbert wrote an open letter to his father:
I was diagnosed with NF when I was just 15 months old, so I don’t remember the exact feeling of finding out that I had this condition. It has always been second nature to me to have a positive attitude about my day to day activities, and I owe this all to my dad.
He has always taught me that it is important to have a good attitude. He always told me that I was given the cards I was dealt, and that I was dealt this hand, and I am dealing with it just fine. I’m still a normal guy, even though I have this condition that causes me to have setbacks.
I was still able to play sports as a kid, and my dad always coached my teams. I may not have gotten to play as much as the other kids, but I realized that I could have gotten hurt because of my visual impairment. My dad looked out for me and made sure that I always felt like an asset to the team, even though I didn’t get as much playing time.
One of the coolest things that I have ever done was when my dad wanted me to represent his organization at the NBA lottery for a few years, and be the face of the Cavaliers franchise. This inspired me because my dad trusted me above anyone else to go on TV and represent the franchise, and he even called me “his personal hero”. This was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever been able to do, and not many people can say that they got this opportunity. I will remember it for the rest of my life.
I have always wanted to go to Michigan State University, and today I am a junior in the business school. I have always ‘bled green’, just like my dad.
Even as an adult, I still look up to my dad as much as I did as a kid on his baseball and basketball teams. I want to be just as successful as him in the business world one day, and I want to keep learning from him every single day.
I wake up each day thankful for the support I was provided from him, my family and my doctors. Without that, I would not have the same mindset I have today.
I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.
Nick Gilbert was the 2013 Children's Tumor Foundation NF Ambassador. His dad, Dan Gilbert, is on the Board of Directors of the Children's Tumor Foundation, and, together with Nick's mom Jennifer, created the beNeFit, an annual inspirational extravaganza in Detroit, MI to raise funds and increase awareness of NF. The Gilbert's hard work, dedication, and vision have translated into nearly $17 million raised in four years for the Children's Tumor Foundation.
(Photo courtesy USA Today)