14-year-old heart patient gets birthday party in hospital

CHICAGO — Members of the Prairie State Bassmasters surprised Nicholas Lindblad in the hospital on his 14th birthday and made him an honorary member of the club.

Dennis Bubinas read a local news article about Lindblad, who was waiting for a heart transplant at Lurie Children’s Hospital. Lindblad said in the article that he loved going bass fishing with his parents.

Bubinas worked with his club and with Lindblad’s parents to coordinate a surprise party for the child, July 26. Club members showed up with a giant bass pillow, tons of fishing tackle and a filled-up tackle bag donated by Bass Pro Shops of Bolingbrook, Ill.

“As Nicholas was wheeled into the room, he saw all of us standing there in our fishing jerseys,” said club member Dan Brown. “His dad, Daniel, told Nicholas we were there to see him and talk some fishing with him. Nicholas’ face lit up with a big smile.”

Travis Hendrix, club president, asked Nicholas if he wanted to become a member of the club.

“The smile on Nicholas’ face only got bigger when Travis handed him a Prairie State Bassmasters jersey and made him an honorary member,” continued Brown. “To say there was a lot of emotion in the room is an understatement. At that moment, there were no egos, no competition, just a bunch of humbled fishermen understanding how fortunate we were to be able pursue our bass fishing passion.”

Club members talked to Nicholas about fishing for the next hour, and Nicholas showed his new fellow club members the fish pics he had taken on his phone, including an 8-pounder.

“As our visit with Nicholas came to a close, Daniel told us this was the most energy Nicholas had in some time,” said Brown.

“I could not help to think how this visit to Lurie Children’s Hospital would inspire us as grown men and help us realize what is important in life. Although our intentions were to make a difference in the life of this young bass angler, he and his family certainly showed us how to face incredible life threatening challenges with courage, and our lives will be enriched forever for meeting them.”

One week after the club members’ visit, Nicholas received his new heart and has since started his rehabilitation.

“Nicholas is talking on the phone and posting on Facebook, a sure sign that a teenager is doing OK,” said Brown. “It won’t be long before we will be fishing with Nicholas. Any bass club out there that has the opportunity to meet someone like Nicholas and his family should cherish that opportunity and make the most of it.

“It is an important part of what being in this type of organization is all about.”