"I remember the first time I met Nik, second day of kindergarten," said family friend Jay Mathur.
Mathur's son Joel became instant friends with Nik. The two quickly agreed Nik would join Joel and his dad on a trip to Pizza Hut after school, but Joel's dad just had one question for Nik, 'shouldn't we ask your mom first?' "And he says, 'oh she's cool don't worry'," said Mathur.
From early on Nik lived his life without looking back.
"He was so social, he was so energetic," said Nik's mom Kelli Ritschel Boehle.
But shortly before his eighteenth birthday Nik was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer not common among children younger than 21.
"You're so limited because you cant change it, even though you try, you cant change it," said Nik's grandmother Judy Boehle. "So, you just compromise and try to do other things to help."
Suddenly, Nik's family found themselves traveling around the country visiting doctors, hoping for the best. Nik lost his battle with cancer earlier this year, just a month after his 21st birthday.
"Probably one of the biggest things I miss, among many, is definitely his big smile," said Kelli.
Nik was young enough to be a part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which gave him the opportunity to meet the Chicago Bears and actually play in a game at Soldier Field.
"He was just ecstatic that day," said Kelli. "Unbelievably happy to actually be there with that team, that Bears team."
But Nik noticed many sarcoma patients in his age group were too old for programs like the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And he told his mom he wished there was something that offered them the same opportunity he had.
"That to me was the essence of Nik," said Mathur.
"I've just had this desire to finish this mission with him, for him," said Kelli. "And that's where the Nikolas Foundation has come in."
A new journey that's brought her closer to her loved ones as well as Nik.
"Your children are your greatest gifts, it's people like your family and your friends and your community that help you through it," said Kelli.
In honor of Nik and to help support the Nikolas Ritschel Foundation, the first annual "Nik's Home Run," a 7-k race and one mile fun walk will step off at the RiverHawks Stadium on Saturday October, 27th.
Proceeds from the event will go to help 18-24 year old sarcoma patients live out their dreams.
For more information visit www.nikolasritschelfoundation.org