CHICAGO — In his 21 years, Andrew Weishar did more, laughed more, and loved more than most people do in a dozen lifetimes.
Those who knew him said he was blessed with an infectious smile that could get even the persistently crabby to join in on showing their pearly whites.
But Weishar’s story is one that is inconceivable and cruel as ever there was. Wisher passed away from colorectal cancer when he was just 21 years old.
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A three-sport athlete, Weishar excelled at football and after an exceptional senior season at all-boys high school, Brother Rice on Chicago’s Southwest Side, he graduated with high honors. He was on to Illinois Wesleyan to do the same.
“He was diagnosed as a freshman in college,” his brother Dan Weishar said.
Younger brothers Dan and Nic will never forget the day Andrew dropped the bomb he was diagnosed with colon cancer. In the U.S., the average age that men are diagnosed is 68.
“I remember very, very vividly the day he came home I was in the basement playing Xbox and he came down,” Nic Weishar said. “He sat next to me. He told me, ‘Nic, I have colon cancer.’ But as soon as he said that, he said, ‘But I don’t want you to worry. This is something I’m going to face like an opponent in football. I’m going to beat it.’”
Aggressive treatment yielded some good results – a short remission – but the joy didn’t last long enough.
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“A few months later, he was re-diagnosed. And it was a little bit more vicious,” Dan Weishar said. “And it obviously circulated throughout his body pretty quickly. About a year after that fateful re-diagnosis, he succumbed to the disease. He left us in October of 2012 at 21.”
But before he did, he left his family with a wish to carry on after he passed.
“Pay forward the kindness and generosity that he was shown throughout his battle,” Nic Weishar said. “When he was sick, we literally had hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people to come to our doorstep offering dinners, offering their prayers, prayer services every night when he was in hospice for Andrew.”
The family created the Andrew Weishar Foundation which raises money to help others with their own cancer battles. They throw an annual party and concert known as WeishFest.
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The foundation has raised $1.8 million.
In a few days, the foundation will receive the Venerable Mary Potter Humanitarian Award through OSF Little Company of Mary Medical Center at the Crystal Heart Ball. It is an honor and recognition befitting the tireless work of his family and friends of the young man gone far too soon but whose spirit lives on forever and always.