When Nick Mazur died unexpectedly on March 22, 2022, on a trip to Mexico, his parents, Jen, and Matt, knew they wanted to do something in his memory. They had no idea how or where to start in the first few weeks and months after Nick’s passing. Any memorial needed to reflect Nick—what he loved and what shaped him, as his funeral did, where kids wore sports uniforms in lieu of suits.
It was during a walk with friend and OCF (Otsego Community Foundation) Executive Director Dana Bensinger that Jen found direction. “Have you thought about a Memorial Fund? We can put some things together for you, and you and Matt can decide,” Dana suggested. According to Jen, this took a lot of stress off her. She no longer had to worry about how to do this. The OCF would take care of it. The Nicholas Matthew Mazur Memorial Fund of the OCF was established.
Creating a memorial fund is a way to allow friends and family to make a tax-deductible memorial contribution and is a service the OCF provides grieving families. There is no charge. Unlike other funds, grieving families have up to one year from the date of establishing the fund to decide to whom and how grants will be distributed. The OCF will account for all contributions and acknowledge each pledge with a letter for their charitable contribution.
After Nick’s memorial fund was established, checks came in from left and right, according to Jen. Family and friends from out of town contributed, as well as so many people from the community that Nick loved so much. People want to give when something like this happens. A memorial fund makes the process simple and seamless for giving.
As the one-year anniversary of Nick’s death approached, Jen and Matt were not sure how they wanted to distribute grants. They met with Dana on several occasions, and nothing clicked. As Nick’s mother, it was Jen’s biggest fear that the community of Gaylord would forget Nick. She did not want him to be forgotten by this community.
Jen and Matt decided to give 10 $2,000 grants to organizations that mattered to Nick. The recipients touched and shaped Nick’s life in meaningful and specific ways. Some were there to support the family in their grief. Two was Nick’s favorite number, so he comes through in the amount of the grants along with who received them.
2023 “We Got This” Grant Recipients
– Gaylord Soccer League
– Gaylord Little League
– Gaylord Youth Instructional Football (Flag Football)
– Gaylord Youth Basketball
– South Maple Elementary
– Gaylord Intermediate Schools—Mr. Nowak’s classroom and Field Day
– Gaylord Middle School
– Gaylord High School—Mr. Beyers weight room
– Otsego County Fire Board
– Gaylord Evangelical Free Church
Above all else, Nick loved soccer. There is a bench with his name on it near the soccer field now, bought with funds donated by the community in his honor. His teammates will continue to practice and play and rest on this bench, remembering their friend for years to come. It was the community who put that bench there, and the community will continue to use it, and Nick’s mom will know that her son will not be forgotten.
“There is some joy and happiness that has come out of this tragedy,” Jen says. “It brings us comfort knowing that Nick is still part of this community, and his name won’t be forgotten.”
The “We Got This” grant recipients were informed via email of their gift on the one-year anniversary of Nick’s passing—March 22, 2023. The Thank You’s and the pictures poured in.
Gaylord Little League
Baseball was another love of Nick’s. The family spent many nights watching him pitch, play in All-Star tournaments, and build friendships with his teammates. These memories made at the ball field will be treasured by his family forever.
Gaylord Youth Instructional Football (Flag Football)
Flag football was another love of Nick’s. He took to the game from day one. He became a team leader, and he could show off his speed on the field. Family memories made while watching Nick play will be cherished by the Mazur family.
Gaylord Youth Basketball
Nick loved playing defense on the basketball court. The youth program allowed him to play and gave the family many memories that they will hold for the rest of their lives.
South Maple Elementary
When the Mazur family moved to Gaylord in 2014, Nick was in kindergarten. He spent kindergarten through third grade at South Maple Elementary. His time at this school gave him, and his family, friendships and memories that shaped his experience in Gaylord.
Gaylord Intermediate School—Field Day and Mr. Nowak’s Class
The highlight of Nick’s school year was field day. He expressed his love of sports by participating in the events he loved. Volunteering for the event gave his mother the opportunity to see him and the rest of the students enjoy the day.
Mr. Nowak instilled a love of reading in Nick. His mom isn’t sure he would have picked up a book without Mr. Nowak. The collection of books that Nick read and wanted to read has a permanent place in the family’s home and acts as a reminder of his love of reading.
Gaylord Middle School
Nick’s family will forever be grateful for the staff and students at GMS. Nick loved school and built wonderful relationships with GMS staff that shaped him into the person he was. He spent his last days with the staff and students at this school. Watching GMS honor him fills his family’s hearts.
Gaylord High School—Mr. Beyers Weight Room
Dave Beyers was a source of both support and inspiration for Nick and the Mazur family. Nick would have been in the weight room every day, under Dave Beyer’s tutelage, loving every minute of it, according to the family.
Otsego County Fire Board
According to Nick’s family, they would not have survived the day of his death without the support of the local fire department, ambulance crew, and the fire department. This grant gives back to those who put their lives on the line to protect others.
Gaylord Evangelical Free Church
Nick loved God and wanted to go to church weekly. Holding his “Celebration of Life” at E-Free Church was perfect, according to the family. Pastor Scott helped the family through this tough time, and they are forever grateful.
Gaylord Soccer League
Nick absolutely loved the game of soccer, and it was his parents’ dream to watch him play on the big high school field. The Gaylord Soccer league helped the Mazur family make wonderful memories while they watched Nick find his love of the game.
If you would like to support the good work being done in Nick’s memory, consider a gift to the Nicholas Matthew Mazur Fund by clicking here: https://give.otsegofoundation.org/Mazur