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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Nick Dillon From Broken Bones to New Life Purpose

A Napa teen that suffered a broken pelvis when a chimney collapsed on him in the 2014 earthquake is inspiring with his triumph over trial. Nicholas “Nick” Dillon was seriously injured, survived an 11-hour surgery at UC Davis Medical Center, and doctors told him it would be six months before he would again walk.

In a wheelchair for about five months, with metal plates and bolts that repaired his broken pelvis, Dillon did his schoolwork at home, thanks to tutors and understanding teachers at New Technology High School. After undergoing intense physical therapy, full recovery took a year.

During Dillon’s recovery, his father was diagnosed with cancer, “He passed away just four months later, it felt like life was hitting me over and over again. It was the hardest thing I have experienced,” Dillon confessed.

“I had to change my outlook on life, and how I approached things. I had to be strong, for myself and others too, because I was an example.”

Lessons Learned

“I was taken back by the kindness from the community,” said Dillon. For example, when Dillon came home from the hospital, the chimney was still in ruins. However, soon after, a group of contractors joined Eamon Griffin, from Griffin Molinari Building Construction, and volunteered time, labor and supplies to reconstruct it.

“I had so much kindness and love, so I didn’t have an excuse to feel sorry for myself,” he added, “Yes, it was challenging, but when you live in a place like Napa, you know if you fall down, you can get right back up.”

“You just have to take a whole new approach on everything. You have to change your mindset. My perspective on life changed, and I value the little things in life more.”.

New Life Purpose – Paying It Forward

“My life purpose is to serve others, to help others,” said Dillon with conviction. This comes from watching his dad battle cancer. It also comes from talking to the nurses and doctors while Dillon was in the hospital when he realized, “There are so many opportunities for me to do something meaningful my life.”

Dillon said his career may be in politics, with an emphasis on public health policy, but most of all he wants to give back the love that people gave him when he was down. He is applying to multiple colleges including the University of California Davis, San Jose State University and Santa Clara University.

Nicholas is graduating in the top ten percent of his class at New Technology High School, and hopes to receive scholarships to make his dream of attending college a reality.

Maria Guadalupe Martinez-Ramirez, Dillon’s counselor at New Tech High said, “Kind and a charismatic leader, intelligent, driven, motivated, and resilient, describe Nick Dillon. Nothing will stop Nick from reaching his goals. He is self-directed and driven. I have no doubt that this young man will be very successful. He is one of the most resilient, kind, and compassionate students I have encountered in my career!”

Local Government Internship

Dillon is currently interning with Napa’s Mayor Jill Techel, and is learning about the important role local government plays in our daily lives.

“Nick has been a terrific intern,” reports Techel. “His greatest gift is his questioning mind, and if he gets the opportunity to find out about something, he drills down until he understands it. He has a great work ethic. He is a self starter and loves to do internet research to help me get the latest information.”

The mayor is helping Dillon with his college applications, and looks forward to seeing which school he will attend. She advises him to go away to college, but to make sure to come back to Napa!

Bottom Line... Now that a few years have passed, Dillon says the accident has greatly impacted his life perspective. It has given him a better outlook, and helped guide his direction.

This is a compelling story of recovery, about a young man who beat the odds and discovered and experienced the generous spirit of the Napa Valley!


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