Irish tight end Nic Weishar influences others with his brother's foundation

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Before every game at Notre Dame Stadium, Irish tight end Nic Weishar runs through the tunnel to the South end zone, where he gets on his knee to say a prayer.

"I pray to God and I pray to Andrew to watch over me," Weishar said.

Nic's older brother Andrew has had a huge impact on Nic's life. Andrew is the reason Nic started playing football.

"When he was in high school, I went to all of his games," Nic said. "Just to have that role model and the way he played he was just a tough, gritty player. Just always doing his job and you could count on him, so from an early age I tried to emulate that."

But eight years ago, Nic's role model was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Two years later, Andrew lost his fight. He was just 21.

"I think about him daily and just everything I do on the field," Nic said. "I think that stems from him, kind of the lessons he taught me."

The most important lesson Nic learned from Andrew was to never give up.

"The big thing was when he was getting hospice care, he looked the nurse in the eye and told her I'm not done fighting," Nic said. "For me to go out on the field and have that I'm not done fighting is a big deal for me."

That mentality resonates throughout the entire Notre Dame football program.

"He's a very influential player on our football team," Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. "When he makes plays, it sends a real positive feeling among our football team."

"Basically, if I had to put it one way, he's a guy that you would want in your foxhole" Irish punter Tyler Newsome said. "Just a great guy; through thick and thin he'd be there for you."

But Nic is there for more than just his teammates. His family created the Andrew Weishar Foundation to fulfill Andrew's dying wish - to bring joy and ease the financial burden felt by families battling cancer.

One of the foundation's big events is Weishfest, a one-night musical festival in Chicago. Every single dollar raised by Weishfest goes to a family who needs it.

"Just the fact that the foundation is giving to other people, that's what my brother asked us to do," Nic said. "I wouldn't think twice about it. It's not that I feel courageous for doing it. It's something I feel like we were called to do and that's what we've been doing."

While the Weishar family is helping others, Nic says Andrew is helping him.

"There's certain times when you feel like you have extra help and I do believe there's a guardian angel and God and Andrew for sure working in my life," Nic said. "When you feel that extra presence, it's really cool. It's a really special experience, and I really hope everyone can feel that at some point."

The foundation has raised nearly $800,000 and through that hard work, Nic has earned a nomination for the Capital One Courage Award, given to a college football player who displays that trait on and off the field.