Nick was born October 21, 1986 in Taipei, Taiwan ROC. After having lived abroad for several years his family moved back to the US on July 4, 1993 from Hong Kong. Nick was 7 at the time. Life was very different than what he was accustomed to. Besides enrollment in school and getting settled in his new environment he was introduced to a variety of activities that were popular with American children, and this included soccer.
In the beginning Saturday mornings consisted of a very involuntary Nick being placed on a soccer field for games. He did not like the sport. Over time, this changed and he came to love soccer – more than the other sports he played – basketball, lacrosse and baseball. As soon as he was old enough he did his referee training, and by the time he was in middle school he began to volunteer assistant coach for the Wilton Soccer Association. By his freshman year in high school, he was head coaching youth boys’ intramural soccer teams both spring and summer, and continued this till his final year in high school.
Win or lose, Nick’s team came off the field happy. During practice he would make it a point to speak to the players on their strengths, weaknesses, and advise them on how to improve their game, and encourage sportsmanship.
Nick Enlists in the Army
Private First Class Nicholas Alexander Madaras enlisted in the US Army in January 2005. He was 18 years old and still had one semester of high school to finish. Nick left for Basic Training at Ft. Benning , Georgia on July 4, 2005 shortly after his high school graduation. He finished basic training in October 2005 and stayed at Ft. Benning for Jump School. November of 2005 he was posted to Ft. Carson, Colorado, with the Silver Lions 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. His battalion was already posted in Iraq as of November of 2005. Nick was assigned to the Personal Security Detail of Lt. Col. Thomas Fisher, the Battalion Commander in Iraq. He left for Iraq in February 2006 to join his unit there.
His PSD assignment duties included being a driver in the commander’s convoy and he was the unit’s sharp shooter.
Home on Leave
While home on leave for 2 weeks during the summer of 2006, Nick talked a lot about the Iraqi children and how they were always smiling despite the on-going chaos of war, death and a frighteningly unknown future. Through his personal interactions with them he became fascinated by how the children dribbled, passed and shot their make-shift “balls” with remarkable ease; this, when all they had to kick around were tin cans and balls made of rags. Their natural talent and love of soccer made quite an impression on him.
The way to connect with the children was obvious to Nick. He asked his family to send him a few soccer balls so he could share his passion for the sport with the children, giving them a common ground of friendship and normalcy even for just a little while.
Returning to Iraq
A month after he returned to Baqubah, Iraq on September 3, 2006, while on a mission the LT. Colonel redirected his convoy to pick up a few wounded soldiers. On their way back to base camp, the convoy ran into an IED trap, the LT. Colonel’s vehicle was disabled. Nick dismounted and while posting security, was hit by shrapnel from yet another IED explosion which was set off down the road from his position. He died in the arms of a fellow soldier. His unit returned home in October. He never got the chance to put a single ball in a child’s hand.
Medals and commendations awarded:
1. Purple Heart for bravery by the United States of America
2. The Bronze Star Medal, for his dedication to the security of the United States of America
3. The Good Conduct Medal by the Department of the Army for exemplary behavior, efficiency and fidelity in active federal military service,
4. The Army Commendation Medal by the Department of the Army for exceptional performance as a driver and rifleman, discipline, initiative and personal courage.
Shortly after September 3rd 2006, we got a call from a gentleman, Ken Dartley of Wilton, who read about Nick’s passion for the sport and his desire to share this love with the Iraqi children. He asked if it would be alright with us to start a program of collecting soccer balls in Nick’s honor to fulfill Nick’s wish to share his passion. That was the beginning of the program “Kick For Nick.”
Soldiers who have distributed the balls to the children have told us this act of kindness and generosity has given way to an atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie. Nick showed us many photos of the people and children in Iraq. He was amazed at how they would be smiling despite their difficult situation. The ball distribution, a gesture of friendship regardless of political differences, brings a feeling of hope and unification…leaving no room for cultural or religious barriers. The simple act of sharing, in Nick’s case a sport he loved so much, inspires hope for all to play on the same field, together and live in harmony.
This is the heart and soul behind the “Kick For Nick” program, inspired by a young man who loved every aspect of the game of soccer, especially the team spirit it engendered.
Nick has inspired in death, as much or even more, good as he would have done in life. The Kick For Nick Foundation continues his mission to foster hope and unity to the less fortunate children of the world and their families, displaying a true representation of the compassion and generosity of US Troops and the American people as envisioned by one young soldier.