Every child in a hospital has a story to tell. Stories of unconditional love and support from their parents and family. Stories of friendship with their doctors and nurses. Every child in a hospital also has aspirations and dreams. Their quest – often times successful – to realize those aspirations and dreams is a source of inspiration for everyone.
The Vikings learn these lessons and feel that inspiration often, particularly through the hospital visits many players organize on Tuesdays during the season. It was through these visits that the Vikings met Nicholas Koenig, a youngster who courageously battled Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Last week, the Vikings lost a young, special supporter and the world lost a special child, as Nicholas passed away following his two-and-a-half year battle.
Nicholas had a bright personality and a lot of interests, including pirates, superheroes, SpongeBob, going to the park and golf cart rides. But he especially loved football and the Minnesota Vikings. In fact, the Koenig family chose to honor Nicholas’ love of the Vikings by asking family and friends who came to his visitation and funeral to wear Vikings apparel or something purple.
“We met Nicholas a few years ago when Heath and Julie Farwell and Ben and Abby Leber were on one of their regular children’s hospital visits,” Vikings Executive Director of Community Relations/Youth Football Brad Madson explained. “Nicholas had Indianapolis Colts gear on when we first met him. So the Farwells and Lebers sent him Vikings apparel and we’ve shared a special relationship with Nicholas and his family ever since.”
Madson said he’ll always remember Nicholas’ positive attitude and enthusiasm.
“I’ll always remember his response when anyone would ask him if he’s having a good day,” Madson said. “His response would always be ‘Oh yeah, baby!’”
The Vikings and the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital are working together to honor Nicholas’ memory and extend condolences and sympathy to the Koenig family, but out of respect for the family’s privacy those plans won’t be disclosed.
“I can’t say enough about the staff at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital,” Madson said. “Their care for Nicholas and all of the children is second to none and they continuously kept me updated on Nicholas’ status so I could update our players.
“The love and care Nicholas received from his parents, Erik and Shannon, was truly a blessing to witness.”