On August 23rd 2019, tragedy hit Waterloo, IL. This Southern Illinois community was home to Nicholas Hopkins, a true hometown hero, as many would describe. Nick, an IL State Police SWAT Trooper, was shot and killed while serving a search warrant in East St. Louis early that morning. Nick lived with intention. He worked hard and always showed up for his family, friends, and team. He believed in making tomorrow better a better place. He had a passion for life and a desire to make the most out of every opportunity. He lived out a legacy passed on by his grandpa, that “You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”. (-Ralph Waldo Emerson).
Each moment of every day was full of something. Not knowing what exactly to expect next was our way of life. With that being said, the life of a police officers family fit our lifestyle well. Nick was constantly busy. He was always working on a project that we had or working in our hay fields. On top of that, he decided he would open up his own construction company. He was typically found rehabbing a building, putting up a shed, or roofing a home. He loved working with his hands. He actually built our home, out of the academy, off of a blueprint sketch that he drew at our kitchen table during our late night conversations and games of rummy. He was smart and he was very good at visualizing things. He could make quick, intelligent decisions. He took the time to listen and learn. He made relationships that would shape our future and our life. Those relationships have since turned into very close friends. Nick would always greet you with the biggest smile and normally some little remark that would make you instantly smile or feel better about your day. He was like a magnet for this momentum type energy that just made people want to make their lives better. He would constantly question and come from different angles to insure you thought the whole process through when making a life decision. He changed peoples lives in this way. On top of all of this, Nick never wore his emotions on his sleeve. Everything that happened at work or in the field was part of his story and he accepted that. When he came home to three little ones that, who to this day, look up to him and want to know every little thing about him, he put everything else to the side and took time to be a dad. He played, he listened, he laughed, he showed a genuine love that many people will never get an opportunity to have. Being one of six kids growing up, he held his family close, creating memories with them every chance he could, never missing an opportunity to fire up the smoker for a good barbecue. He made time for family, whether that be in everyday conversations or cutting his grandpas grass, while enjoying a ham sandwich, talking about old baseball stories.
We know that through every storm there is a light that shines through. We know that we will get to see him again, until then we have promised to be brave and strong; to let our hearts feel and to cry some. Our life was formed through our faith and through the hard work, sacrifices and love that Nick showed every day.
Foundation 6141 will hold these values that Nick believed in, putting his legacy into action. Supporting families during the storms they may face so that they too can walk out of their hard to make their life better tomorrow. As a foundation we will show up to give back and hope to create a community of people that will be ready to help us create opportunities for families.