He’s had cancer, he’s in pain, but he’s collecting food and toys for NJ’s needy
Chris Nolze, 21, of Toms River has survived recurrent cancer tumors and continues to struggle with two other medical disorders. But he helps others each holiday season, despite his own struggles.
Nolze was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain condition, at age 12, and also suffers from dystonia, a movement disorder that causes uncontrollable muscle contractions, causing the body to twist and bend. He has been through 21 operations and has been cancer-free since 2008.
Four of the operations have been for TN, a disorder of the fifth cranial Trigeminal nerve.
For the Dystonia, Nolze said, he gets Botox injections in his shoulder every three or six months to calm down the nerves so his shoulder can readjust into a normal position.
On top of dealing with medical issues, juggling college and his personal life, Nolze has organized a food drive and a toy drive simultaneously through his foundation, Chris's Fight For A Cure.
"I have a lot of support, thankfully, and that helps me get through a lot of it, but a lot of it is also just me pushing through and knowing that my struggles are still helping others," Nozle said.
Chris's Fight for a Cure Foundation is collecting food donations for People's Pantry of Toms River to help them provide Thanksgiving dinner to more than 700 families, while also collecting toys for patients at Children's Specialized Hospital of Toms River.
Chris credits his mother with the initial idea to help People's Pantry, a soup kitchen that formed immediately after Superstorm Sandy, more than four years ago. Helping hurricane victims is how the two organizations formed a relationship.
"When we're in a position where we can help any sort of organization or foundation, such as the People's Pantry, I want to be able to that," Nozle said.
There's a bench set up in front of the Nolzes' home at 40 Thomas Street to collect monetary donations and non-perishable food items.
"There's actually been a few times where we haven't even known who dropped off stuff, so we just say thank you on Facebook and someone says you're welcome, and that's how we find out who it was," he laughed.
Nolze's connection to Children's Specialized Hospital began while he was part of the Spirit Club at Toms River High School South, which continues to go Christmas Caroling at the facility each holiday season. He wanted to build upon the smiles it brought to the patients by starting the toy drive.
"I knew what is was like to be a patient at a hospital and I had amazing support. Not all of these patients always have the best support, and so anything I can do help bring a smile to their face gives me hope and joy inside," Nolze said.
Donations for the food drive will be accepted through Nov. 16, 2016 and until DEc. 16, 2016 for the toy drive.
Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.