Making a difference in the lives of children and bringing them joy is Nick Wallace’s passion. Nick has biliary artresia, a pediatric liver disease, and in 2013, he received a lifesaving liver transplant. “I spent a lot of my childhood in and out of hospitals, often in isolation. I learned to be a master at entertaining myself. When a friend of mine was diagnosed with bone cancer, I wanted to give him something to make his first chemotherapy treatment and hospitalization more tolerable. I put together a backpack of items I loved and found the most useful and fun,” explained Nick. Now, Nick’s Picks has more than 12 items, including the Boogie Board LCD writing tablet and the Baden glow-in-the-dark mini basketball hoop.
Nick’s Picks currently serves 15 centers nationwide, with most centers located on the West Coast. The eventual goal is to serve at least one large Children’s Hospital in all 50 states. According to Nick, anyone can help Nick’s Picks reach this goal – from putting up a lemonade stand to benefit the organization to encouraging community foundations to donate to the cause. “Only $50 supports a backpack for a hospitalized kid. It’s hard for most people to imagine how isolated you can feel in the hospital. I want to help these kids feel connected to the world,” stated Nick.
Nick is inspired and motivated to continue the mission of Nick’s Picks by each and every child he helps. He receives pictures and emails from kids who have been positively impacted by this nonprofit organization, and he is touched by the stories of resilience and determination. “One boy was so depressed in the hospital that he hadn’t spoken in four months after his four-organ transplant. He got his Nick Pick’s backpack and something in it made him laugh. His parents said that it was the one thing that helped him to communicate again,” revealed Nick. Through Nick’s Picks, Nick has also met another boy with the same liver condition. Nick is now this little boy’s friend and mentor.
Name: Nick Wallace (17)
School: Torrey Pines High School
Parents: Deb Atkin, Chris Wallace
Sibling: Lexie (15)
Favorite Spot: The beaches of Del Mar
As a student at Torrey Pines High School, Nick loves his American history class and playing for the school’s lacrosse team. He also plays for Team 12 club lacrosse and enjoys surfing at the beaches of Del Mar with friends. In spite of missing so much school due to illness, High Bluff Academy, Nick’s school at the time, was extremely accommodating, ultimately allowing Nick to graduate on track with his TPHS peers next year. Nick’s favorite hobby is filmmaking, and he hopes to one day become a professional filmmaker who tells people’s stories through film.