Despite health scare, local athlete wants to help others
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“When cancer strikes a home, you have to depend on a lot of people,” Polo’s father Richard said. “I have nothing but praise for the people in this field that helped us.”
When Polo first got sick, the assistant baseball coach at the University of Central Florida (UCF), whom Richard coached in Wantagh, invited him to throw out the first pitch at a game the following season.
Polo knew he had turned the corner when he threw a perfect “strike” in a UCF game against Tulane University.
“I was so nervous, and then I threw a perfect strike,” he said. “I felt great after that.”
He was also invited to visit Rutgers University, where Coach Flood gave him a tour of the facility. When Polo’s began feeling ill, Flood asked him to carry the football into the end zone from five yards out, which he called “a special feeling.”
Polo is now involved in the “Back in the Game” program at Pro Performance in Garden City, where he’s preparing to return to “normal life.” He hopes to get back into football this fall. Polo’s also working with kids who are going to similar situations that he endured.
“The little guys that are going through what he went through are looking up to him,” Richard said. “His whole attitude is inspirational to all of us. Everyone that knows Nick is blown away by it.”
The family’s also been thankful for the outpouring support from the Wantagh, Seaford and St. Anthony’s communities, which included a benefit to raise money at Mulcahy’s in 2012.
“Last year, the days I made it to school…everyone cared,” Polo said. “The football community is awesome.”
“I want people to know that there’s always someone can help you get through whatever you have,” he added. “You just have to stay strong and knock it out of the park.”
As far as a future career, the whole experience has inspired Polo to enter the medical field in some fashion.
“Looking at all this, I never took an interest in health science,” Polo said. “Now I want to help kids that had the same thing that I did. I just want to help others.”