SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Nick Heald can never build another Adirondack chair for the South High Marathon Dance auction.
The 24-year-old died of cancer this summer, before he could start his fourth chair for the fundraiser.
So his friends did it for him.
So far, they’ve built and painted 30 chairs in his memory.
It was a way of gathering together to mourn him, but also a way to continue what he had quietly done on his own to support the many causes helped by the dance marathon each year.
For the past three years, Heald made and donated a chair to the dance auction. Each time, the chairs brought in more than $2,000, friend Brittany Creel said.
“It was something special to Nick, to make these chairs for Marathon,” she said. “This is something Nick truly loved; let’s do it for him.”
Friends made three or four chairs in the first week after Heald’s death. Now they’ve made more than 30.
“I need to do something. I need to build something,” Creel said.
They will auction off the chairs at 3 p.m. Oct. 28 at the South Glens Falls Fire Company Firehouse on Reynolds Road in Moreau. Potential buyers can look at the chairs at 1 p.m. Baked goods and other refreshments will also be for sale. All of the money raised will go to the marathon dance, which donates it to cancer patients and others in need.
Heald continued to build until his death, Creel said.
“He was to a point he couldn’t speak anymore,” she said.
But he and his wife had just bought a house. Creel came over, not sure what to expect. She found him hard at work.
“He was changing the door hinges and redoing the bathroom,” she said. “He was on comfort care and he was building a deck.”
He finished the deck, by the way.
She asked him about the door hinges. By typing into his laptop, which spoke for him, he explained that the previous owner had indiscriminately mixed brown and silver hinges. It drove him crazy. So he replaced them, making them all match.
She was struck by the fact that he handled all the duties of a host as well, even though he had to type, “Do you want a drink?” to offer one to her. He told her all about a new brand of antioxidant-infusion drinks, Bai, and insisted she try one and tell him what she thought of it. She liked the coconut flavor.
At his funeral, he had arranged for hundreds of Bai drinks to be handed out with the label, “Nick wanted to Bai you a drink.”
“He passed away and he’s still hosting,” Creel said, choking back tears.
The funeral was Aug. 1. She still hasn’t drunk her Bai.
“I can’t even open this. I can’t throw the bottle away,” she said.
Heald graduated from South Glens Falls High School in 2011. He had strong connections in the community and so it’s been easy to find business sponsors to pay for the chairs, which cost more than $100 in wood alone. The South Glens Falls Middle School Spanish Club even sponsored a chair.
The paintings are also spanning the gamut, from the Yankees to hot air balloons. One has a mural of the Milky Way.
But the chair with the Dr. Seuss quote is the one that got to Creel.
It features the red striped hat from "The Cat in the Hat," with the quote, “Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.”
That’s how Heald describes himself in the “intro” section at the top of his Facebook page.
“That quote is on Nick’s Facebook,” Creel said. “I just bawled when I saw it.”