Nico Scholly's 21-year-old brother Tristen Scholly suddenly passed away last November. But Tristen's legacy lives on. He donated his organs and has helped save the lives of at least four people local to the family's hometown of Chicago and others beyond that, Nico recently told The Daily Dish over the phone while in the Windy City area.
The Below Deck yachtie said that it's "amazing" and it "means the world" to him that Tristen was an organ donor. "To see how heroic it is that he can now help other people and he's still alive today through other people, it's really just saved me a lot of grief, because this is still something that I struggle with every single day," he told The Daily Dish. "But knowing that other people are alive because of it and knowing people are getting healthy because of him, I'm so thankful for that."
Tristen accidentally fell three stories off of a balcony and hit his head last November. "So they induced him into a coma, and then within 24 hours, they saw that there's just too much brain damage, so he wasn't gonna be able to make it out of it," Nico explained. "So we decided then that once we found that out, what way can we do something about this? How can we keep him living on and just that's not the end of it, you know?"
So the family decided to allow Tristen to donate his organs so that he could help save other people's lives, one final selfless act for a man who was incredibly generous during his lifetime. "He was just an all-around amazing person. He was definitely my best friend. We were like twins, always hung out, always got along. We were super close," Nico said of his brother. "He was one of those kids [who didn't have] any money, maybe 100 bucks to his name, and he's walking in Chicago and he saw a homeless person, he'd give him 100 bucks. That was one of his problems. He wouldn't stop doing stuff like that. But that's just the type of person he was. He saw someone else in need, and he would help them before he helped himself."
Nico said that his brother inspired him to register as an organ donor because he "saw how important it is." "Saving a life or a few for unexpected circumstances is super important," Nico wrote in the caption to an Instagram post announcing the news in February. "Life is a gift and you never know [whose] life you can save."
Now Nico and his family are continuing to keep Tristen's legacy alive with the launch of the Tristen Scott Foundation, which aims to help other families whose loved ones donated organs. "When we were going through that process, we didn't really have anyone to walk us through and be on a personal level with us as we were going through that. So it was a really hard time for our family," Nico shared. "So we decided to create a foundation in his name, the Tristen Scott Foundation. Our goal is to raise awareness for people about being an organ donor and then also [help] out families in any way possible that we can [to] be on that personal level and create that connection that we didn't have."
The Tristen Scott Foundation will hold its first fundraiser the weekend of what would have been Tristen's 22nd birthday on Saturday, May 27. The event, which will take place at Niko's Red Mill Tavern in Woodstock, Illinois, will feature a live and silent auction and raffles. "A lot of people, obviously, don't expect something like this to happen, so they're not financially there to have someone cremated or a funeral. Even the hospital bills were absolutely outrageous for us. So just really helping out any family that we can and just trying to grow the foundation so we can help as much as possible," Nico said. "We're expecting a lot of people to come. It should be a good first event. Hopefully, year by year, it'll get bigger and bigger."
For now, Nico said that he's putting all of his efforts into launching the foundation, as well as growing it in the future with his family. The foundation is already planning its next event, a motorcycle run, which Nico said he hopes will take place in August.
Nico also said that he's currently focusing on spending time with his family, which was something that wasn't so easy for him to do immediately after Tristen's passing. "The first few months were very, very difficult. It was a little bit too hard for me to be in Chicago, so I actually left for a few months, but just being in yachting and away from my family, you realize what's important in life. Sometimes it takes unfortunately losing someone like that to realize what is important," Nico shared. "We're doing a lot better. We're holding up. We're all just kind of being a part of the foundation as much as possible because that's helping every single one of us out."
Look back on some photos of Nico and the rest of the Below Deck crew, below.