Health & Wellness

Before his death, teenager's IV pole project changed lives for kids with cancer

Like a lot of teens, Nick Konkler enjoyed rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty in wood shop class.

So when the Seattle-area high schooler, who’d battled cancer since he was 4, noticed a little girl at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital having a difficult time with her IV poll, he had a lightbulb moment.

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How one teen’s colorful ‘lily pads’ help kids through cancer treatment

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How one teen’s colorful ‘lily pads’ help kids through cancer treatment

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"You are connected to this pole 24/7, so if you have to get up to do anything, the pole goes with you,” Nick’s mom, Christina, told TODAY.

Nick’s idea was to build IV pole “lily pads,” a skateboard-like device that allows patients to get around the hospital easier. Instead of struggling to walk, a child could ride on the colorful platform.

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His plan was to use time in his shop class at Auburn Riverside High School to build one for every child at the hospital.

TODAY
Lily pads, or a version of a skateboard attached to an IV pole.

But he never got the chance. In February 2015, Nick died after a long battle with leukemia and a childhood brain tumor. He was just 17.

"No matter what he was doing he always had a smile on his face, always helping people, always looking out for others,” a tearful friend told TODAY.

“And even when it was the hardest time for him and other people could tell, he would always make time for other people."

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And though he wasn't even able to complete the lily pad project himself, students at Auburn Riverside made his dreams come true — and more than that, they built his legacy.

TODAY
Lily pads, or a version of a skateboard attached to an IV pole.

To honor their classmate, dozens of students gathered at the school on a Saturday morning to finish the project, with some from the art and design class joining in to paint each lily pad by hand.

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Eventually, the wooden pads were delivered to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, where they’ve been lifting the spirits of kids in need of a boost.

"I think it's fun to see the kids ride them, because that's what he would have wanted,” Christina said. “He would have wanted to see all the kids, you know, out of bed walking or riding the lily pad."

"It just, it makes me so proud of Nick and who he was,” his dad Vince added.

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