The South Charlotte community is mobilizing to raise $71,000 for an air ambulance to fly an injured former Charlotte Catholic High School swimmer home from Brazil.Nicholas Andrade, 18, graduated from Charlotte Catholic in May. On Sept. 30, Nick went swimming with friends in a river in rural Brazil, where his family had moved while his father, Robson Andrade, set up a business.Authorities believe Nick hit a rock in the river. He broke his neck and now is paralyzed.After two surgeries he was flown to a hospital in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and his family wants to bring him back for rehabilitation in Charlotte.Nick is on a ventilator, so he cannot fly on a regular airline, said Misty Hampton, a family friend who is helping with fundraising efforts.Organizers in Charlotte have negotiated with companies to get the lowest price for the flight, Hampton said. Nick will be in the care of Carolinas Medical Center when he returns, which organizers hope will be on Dec. 1.More than $26,000 has been raised, as the Andrades’ former neighborhood and church, as well as their children’s schools and swim club have rallied to help the family.Mary Summa, a close friend of Nick’s mother Karen Andrade, is coordinating the efforts. “Last week, Karen called me just over the moon excited that Nick was able to respond to commands with his arms,” Summa said. “She’s not going to stop until he’s able to walk again.”Summa said the family moved to Brazil, where Robson Andrade is from, for six months for business purposes and planned to return to Charlotte. Nick was taking a year off to work before college.Much of the help for Nick is coming from Charlotte Catholic High School, where Nick was a star swimmer and captain of the swim team his senior year.Head swim coach Brian Gross said Nick always was willing to step aside in a relay race for another swimmer if he felt like he was having an off day in the pool. He described Nick as “determined and full of life.”“He’s so full of passion and determination to succeed,” Gross said. “He always wants to do his best, and he always wants everybody else to do their best.”Charlotte Catholic students regularly pray for Nick at school and are selling blue “Prayers for Nicholas” bracelets to raise money. Other efforts around South Charlotte including a “Nickels for Nick” collection and “Swim Nick Home,” a swim-a-thon held Nov. 17 at SwimMAC.Nick swam on a club team at SwimMAC’s facility on Providence Road in South Charlotte and taught swimming lessons there.More than 1,000 people attended a prayer vigil for Nick at The Reserve, the Andrades’ former neighborhood in Marvin, Hampton said. Lorenzo’s Pizza in Ballantyne recently donated 25 percent of its proceeds from a fundraising night, and a Girl Scout troop gave $113, Hampton said.Kalli Eskind, whose daughter Kaya has dated Nick for two years, organized Swim for Nick. She estimates the event raised almost $7,000. She said about 65 swimmers, ranging from children to older teenagers, swam in the event and others donated money without swimming.“So many people have donated hundreds of dollars to be in this swim just as a good gesture to Nicholas and how he impacted people,” Hampton said. “It’s just been amazing.”Meanwhile, family friends have helped rent a house for the Andrades near their former residence and are preparing it for the family’s arrival.Summa said the Andrades have grown closer through the accident and their determination to help their son. Karen and Robson Andrade have five children from ages 8 to 22, including two children they adopted from Russia.“They really are an inspiration in terms of their love for each other and their kids, friends and neighbors,” Summa said. “It’s amazing to watch all of these different people from all these different arenas of life support them.” Updated information about Nick Andrade is available on the “Prayers for Nick Andrade” Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PrayersForNickAndrade.
Monday, Nov. 26, 2012
Area rallies to help Andrade
Community raising money to bring Andrade home from Brazil
Want to help? To donate to the Andrade family, visit www.youcaring.com/other/bringnicholasandradehome/33414. Checks can mailed to: Karen and Robson Andrade, c/o Mary Catherine Surface, 713 Beauhaven Lane, Waxhaw, NC 28173