Healy family, WW South taking stand against Crohn's

  • Nick Healy

    Nick Healy

Updated 12/4/2019 10:41 AM

Sure, he's a little biased.

He's also right.


"Nick, he's as tough as there is," Wheaton Warrenville South boys basketball coach and athletic director Mike Healy said of his oldest son.

Each of his boys who've gone on to college -- Nick, Drew, Jake -- were feisty, fundamentally sound players in a program that prides itself on those factors. Sophomore Danny Healy is next man up.

But Nick? He's the toughest, his father claimed.

"Yeah, I'd say so, too," said Nick, 22, in his first season as a graduate manager with Indiana State men's basketball.

Nick gains the edge by his defensive stance against Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. As of 2015 up to 780,000 Americans may have been affected by it, according to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.

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Diagnosed with the treatable but uncurable autoimmune disease in the seventh grade, Nick Healy said he dealt "pretty well" with the symptoms that most affected him -- abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue. After August 2018 surgery to remove more than a foot of his colon, he said Crohn's has hit him a bit harder.

"It's just a really frustrating disease," Mike Healy said.

"There's nothing I can't do," Nick said, "but I have to kind of modify things a little bit to make sure I'm all good."

Things like diet and medications. And unlike other health conditions, people with inflammatory bowel disease often tend to keep it to themselves.

Obviously, he's become more candid. He's proud that his parents, Mike and Michelle, have organized an event Saturday at WW South, the Crohn's/Colitis Shootout, to raise awareness of IBD and benefit the Bigger Than Basketball Foundation.

Former Loyola basketball player Nick DiNardi, a Crohn's patient, began the foundation the same month Nick Healy had his surgery.

Bigger Than Basketball is "dedicated to raising awareness and funding for research to benefit individuals suffering from Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis," its website states. DiNardi, whom Mike and Michelle Healy have come to know, will be at WW South to provide information and answer questions.


Starting at noon Saturday, five sophomore and five varsity boys basketball games are scheduled for WW South's Horsley Gymnasium and Orange & Black gym, respectively.

In order, Schaumburg vs. Huntley, York vs. Naperville North, Batavia vs. Downers Grove North and Wheaton North vs. Benet precede the 7:30 p.m. finale, the varsity game between WW South and Riverside-Brookfield.

All teams or coaches have a connection to Nick Healy or IBD itself, such as Nick's first youth coach, Downers North's Jim Thomas, and Riverside-Brookfield coach Mike Reingruber, whose mother had Crohn's, Mike Healy said.

"This is a perfect fit, get basketball involved with something you're trying to fight," Mike Healy said.

After expenses, money from donations, a silent auction and tickets ($6 adults, $3 students) will go to Bigger Than Basketball. Each school also committed to donate $200 for warmup T-shirts players will wear Saturday.

Nick Healy said it "means a lot" to have a basketball event that also shines a light on IBD, particularly coming on the heels of November being Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Month.

This tough, old guard is becoming a little less guarded.

"Now I feel I can talk about it with anybody and feel comfortable about it," he said.


Three DuPage County college football teams are still playing.

North Central College (11-1) hosts NCAA Division III quarterfinal foe Delaware Valley at noon Saturday at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium in Naperville.

The Cardinals' Broc Rutter, a Neuqua Valley graduate, threw for a school-record 522 yards and 5 touchdowns passes to pace a 59-52 second-round win over Mount Union. That eliminated the 13-time national champion before the quarterfinals for the first time since 1994.

Wheaton College (12-0) handily dispatched Central College (Iowa) 49-13 to host Minnesota's St. John's University at noon Saturday at McCully Stadium in Wheaton.

In opposite brackets, North Central and Wheaton would not face each other until the Dec. 20 Division III championship.

College of DuPage (7-4) returns to play in the fourth annual Red Grange Bowl at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bjarne Ullsvik Stadium in Glen Ellyn.

The Chaparrals host Itasca Community College (Minnesota) in the only NJCAA bowl game dedicated to non-scholarship programs.

As a sidelight, NFL Films researcher Chris Willis will return to town for a lecture and signing of his book, "Red Grange: The Life and Legacy of the NFL's First Superstar."

Free and open to the public, it'll be held 6-9 p.m. Saturday in the College of DuPage Physical Education Center atrium.


Twitter: @doberhelman1

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