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Communication Update - March 5, 2020

Our family is incredibly grateful to Caringbridge.org for providing families a platform to share updates regarding their loved one’s medical conditions.  The website allowed us to keep friends, family, and the community abreast of Daniel’s medical condition, arrangement details, and the beginning work of our foundation.  In the five months since Dan’s passing, we have incorporated our foundation and created a website and social media platforms for the Daniel J. Hollis Foundation.

We will be suspending our updates on the CaringBridge site and focusing our communication efforts through the website (www.danieljhollisfoundation.org) and Facebook page (@DJHFoundationInc).  One of the many wonderful attributes of CaringBridge is the ability to register for updates.  Our webpage has a similar feature. At the very bottom of the home page, you can register and select to follow the Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc. site.  We hope you will continue to follow us as we work to make a change in the world for young people in Dan’s memory.  

As always, thank you for your incredible support.


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"Make a Change in the World" - February 8, 2020

I recently received a few of Dan’s school writing assignments.  Interestingly enough, in both middle school and in college Dan chose to write a letter to his future self.  While his college letter was much more reflective of his life and his vision for the future, the middle school version held many of the same sentiments.  In his middle school letter, he included a long list titled, “What I Want to Do”.  My heart sang realizing he had met and surpassed many of his “wants”, although he never was “able to dunk on 10 feet” and he didn’t “marry Ariana Grande” despite her following him on Twitter.  In between the seemingly frivolous wants of a 14-year old (owning a car other than “Mom or Mimi’s Jeep” or working on “a duck boat while in college”) was a picture of what he wanted out of life.  He wanted to go to the school of his choice for marketing, live in a city, make the playoffs in either hockey or lacrosse, make the all-star team in either sport, win districts/states, and most importantly (because it was last on the list and accentuated by two stars) “Make a change in the world.”

We believe that in his 19 years, Dan made a significant impact on his world by bringing light and joy to others.  The foundation we have created in his name aims to change the world of other young people by providing a variety of learning opportunities to develop relationships, compete with love, and explore the world around them.  

As many of you may know, this spring, family friend Jamie Gornstein Tighe will be running the 2020 Boston Marathon for the Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc. and the Mike Weaver Helping Friends Forever Foundation, Inc.  You can reference earlier posts on this website to learn more about the importance Mike Weaver and his family had to Dan and our entire family.  

Our foundations are throwing a “Back to the 90s” Fundraiser on Saturday, February 22nd to celebrate Jamie and raise funds for both foundations to establish a sportsmanship scholarship for graduating seniors of Hopedale High School and purchase AED machines for local sports teams and community centers.  You can learn more about the event and purchase tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/90s-exchange-marathon-fundraiser-for-mike-weaver-and-dan-hollis-foundations-tickets-92541876243?aff=efbeventtix&fbclid=IwAR16qHUVqjAbweI8kP49J9cqTgz0EoaApUt2KBqyc6Bl5wpFetAj7y-97Tw 

Additionally, we will be holding our 1st Annual Golf Tournament on Monday, June 29, 2020, at Blissful Meadow Golf Club in Uxbridge, MA.  More details to come soon. You can also follow us on our new social media account at facebook.com/DJHFoundationInc and website danieljhollisfoundation.org.

It has been four months since we lost Dan and while our pain is still very fresh, we cannot help but be buoyed by the fact that he is not forgotten.  Emerson Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Matt Colombini recently reached out to share that Dan’s presence is felt every day at lacrosse practice. The team has instituted a new “Player of the Week” award to the athlete who is a good teammate and puts in a good effort at practice.  The winner of the week wears Dan’s practice jersey the following week of practice and represents Dan on the field. I hope you will consider joining us at the Emerson Men’s Lacrosse home opener on Saturday, March 14th as they take on St. Joseph’s of Maine and keep the entire team in your thoughts and good wishes as they embark on their season starting February 26th at Wentworth College.

As always, on behalf of our entire family, thank you for your ongoing support.  We hope you will be able to join us in one of our upcoming fundraisers and/or in support of the Emerson Men’s Lacrosse Team.  And as Dan wrote in the conclusion of his middle-school letter to his future self:
Have fun, stay out of trouble, live a good life.  Remember: “Life is a game, so make it a win.”


Updates from the Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc. - We've Been Busy!

I’d like to wish a happy and healthy new year to all of Dan’s followers.  Your ongoing support is very much appreciated.

Our family has been incredibly touched by the recently published remembrance articles and ongoing tributes by coaches and members of Dan’s former teams.





It is very clear to us that Dan made an incredibly positive impact on others during his life and we are committed to keeping his memory alive and to continue to spread his positivity to others.

We are happy to share that The Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc. is now an officially recognized corporation.  Our accountant has prepared the necessary paperwork and we are patiently waiting to receive our tax-exempt/non-profit status from the IRS.  We were thrilled to learn that while this process can take several months, all donations made to the Foundation can be retroactively credited as a donation to a charity.

The Foundation has been actively planning upcoming events and performing acts in accordance with our mission:

The Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc. is devoted to providing opportunities for young people that cultivate curiosity, support healthy competition, and develop meaningful connections.

We were honored to provide the funds to secure a service-dog for an eight-year-old autistic boy.  According to our recipient, “my dog will help me to be brave and confident. My dog will help me connect more with adults and my friends too.”  We could not think of a better first act for the DJH Foundation. Not only was Dan a dog-lover, but he also lived for social relationships. He wanted everyone to have “the best time ever” and would love to not only provide our recipient with a dog to love, but a vehicle to develop more social experiences.  If you are interested in learning more about the organization that provides service dogs, please visit: neads.org

The Foundation has also recently created a website at www.danieljhollisfoundation.org; a Facebook page The Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc; and an Instagram account at danieljhollisfoundation.

Future plans for the Foundation include the creation of a sportsmanship scholarship at Hopedale High School; the development of creative (writers, artists, musicians) workshops for you adults to explore the arts in meaningful ways; an annual field trip for elementary students to learn how to skate with help from the HHS Boys’ Hockey Team; and the creation of scholarships for college students looking to study/travel abroad.

The Foundation has already received an incredible outpouring of donations.  We look forward to holding several fundraisers in the coming months including the 1st Annual Golf Tournament on June 29th at Blissful Meadows Golf Club and supporting marathon runner Jamie Gornstein Tighe in the 2020 Boston Marathon as she runs to benefit the Mike Weaver Helping Friends Forever Foundation, Inc. and the Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc (see below for our marathon announcement).  We hope you will be able to join us for one of our upcoming events and thank you for your ongoing support.

Marathon Announcement 1.20.2020:

On November 8, 2019, the Mike Weaver Helping Friends Forever Foundation donated two portable AED machines to the Hopedale High School Boys’ Ice Hockey and Boys’ Lacrosse Teams in memory of their former captain, Dan Hollis.  The connection between Mike Weaver and Dan Hollis goes back to August of 2006 when Mike’s son Josh introduced himself to Dan and became Dan’s first friend in Hopedale.  Josh and Dan, as well as Josh’s twin brother Jake, were teammates, class officers, and friends throughout Dan’s life. The boys became friends through school and sports and their parents became close friends through them. 

Dan looked up to Mike as his friends’ father,  a positive role model, and his beloved baseball coach for many years.  After Mike’s untimely passing in 2015, Dan paid respect to Mike by inscribing his initials and date of passing on his hockey and lacrosse helmets until the day he passed.

Today, the Mike Weaver Helping Friends Forever Foundation and the Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc. are pleased to announce they are coming together once again to help others.  Through the generosity of the Boston Athletic Association, they were able to secure an entry for this year’s Boston Marathon.  A mutual friend of both families, Jamie Gornstein Tighe, has graciously accepted the opportunity to run in honor of Mike and Dan.  Jamie, a sorority sister of Dan’s mom Jen, first connected with Dan as they waited to pay their respects at Mike’s wake. Mike and Dan will forever be connected and would be thrilled to know that their connections to others are bringing their community together to help others, to smile, and to fully enjoy life.

All of Jamie’s fundraising efforts for the marathon will support the Mike Weaver Helping Friends Forever Foundation and The Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc.   The Foundations will continue to provide AED machines to athletic teams and other community organizations in addition to creating and funding the Daniel J. Hollis Sportsmanship Scholarship.   We will have a fundraising platform up and running in the next few days to support Jamie’s marathon effort and honor the memories of Mike and Dan. Thank you in advance for your support!


November 8, 2019 - Continuing to Save Lives

Today, Dan’s memory was honored by the Mike Weaver Friends Helping Friends Foundation with the donation of two AED machines to the Hopedale High School Boys’ Ice Hockey and Boys’ Lacrosse Teams.  Much like Dan, Mike Weaver was someone hard to miss. Tall, a little bit goofy, and a genuinely kind person. Dan literally and figuratively looked up to Mike for many years as the father of his dear friends Jake and Josh and as his baseball coach.  Mike’s untimely passing in 2015 had a major impact on Dan and our entire family.

The winter after Mike’s passing, Dan had nagged me incessantly about purchasing him a new hockey helmet with the bubble face mask.  After weeks of pleading, I finally conceded with a stern lecture about how much money it had cost and to take care of it because it was the last helmet I was buying for his high school career, etc.  He disappeared into his room for close to an hour adjusting the facemask and attaching his team stickers. He came out to show me the finished product with a huge area of hockey tape and some writing on the mask.  I proceeded to go on a rant about respecting materials and what was he doing putting weird messages on his face mask, etc. etc. Dan stood there and took it, and then said, “You’re going to feel really stupid in a minute.”  I continued to rant and then asked what he had to say for himself, he then proceeded to hand the helmet to me and told me to read what it said. With the helmet in my hand, I could now see what I had thought was graffiti was the initials M.W. and the date of 6.4.15 (the date Mike Weaver had passed).  I believe I mumbled some sort of apology and made my way into my bedroom where I proceeded to text Mike’s wife, my dear friend Mel, to tell her what an ass I had just made of myself and what a truly heartfelt tribute Dan had paid to Mike. Every helmet Dan wore throughout his high school sports career and club team had the same tribute to Mike Weaver.  

So it seems fitting that today we remember two amazing humans and in their memory have the ability to save lives.  While I sincerely hope that these machines will never need to be used, it is a comfort to know that the athletes and spectators at future sporting events have an AED machine available.  Thank you to Mel Weaver and the Mike Weaver Friends Helping Friends Foundation for this incredible gift and honor in Dan’s memory.  



November 7, 2019 - Maintaining Dan's Legacy

In our family's commitment to focus our energy and thoughts on the way in which Daniel lived his life, it gives us great pleasure to announce the 1st-Annual Daniel J. Hollis Foundation Golf Tournament will take place on Monday, June 29th, 2020 at Blissful Meadows Golf Club.  Dan loved to play golf with his family and friends and Blissful Meadows was one of his favorite courses.  We are thrilled to be able to hold a celebration of Dan's life and fundraiser for his foundation at a place that brought him so much joy.  While still in the early stages, Dan's foundation will be providing scholarships and learning experiences for the wider community.  More details regarding the foundation and the tournament will be released as they become available.  Thank you for your ongoing support.  


October 23, 2019 - Thank You for Your Ongoing Support

The last few weeks have been an incredible roller coaster of emotions for our family.  As we begin to process the many events and emotions of this time, we wanted to acknowledge the countless acts of kindness and support directed toward our family and in Dan’s memory.  

We recognize that as a family we do not hold the monopoly on grieving Dan’s loss and that a much wider community is also struggling with how to make sense of his untimely death.  It is our most fervent wish that Dan’s life not be defined by the way in which he died, but the way in which he lived.  

We wanted to publicly thank the many people who have reached out via text or phone, the hundreds of cards, prayers, and general good wishes.  To those of you who stood in line for hours to pay your respects at his wake or joined us in celebrating his life at the Faith Community Church, we thank you for your on-going support and love.  

We will never have the right words to express our gratitude for these acts of love and kindness or the generosity of those who have looked after our needs.  We are deeply grateful to Jay’s co-worker Jessica Szala for starting a Go Fund Me account to support our family and to the hundreds who donated. We have committed to continuing Dan’s legacy of making the world a better place and will do so through the vehicle of the Daniel J. Hollis Foundation.  Again, our deepest appreciation to those who have donated to support Dan’s legacy. As we look ahead, we are comforted that the work of his foundation will spread his message to, “Always be true to yourself, and be who you want to be, regardless of what others think.”

The list of people to thank is daunting.  As we move forward in our healing process we will try to connect with you all individually.  Please know how much we appreciate you and your kindness and generosity. While we send our thanks to all of you, I also feel the need to thank Daniel.  Because of his life and his relationships our family has grown. Whether it is the hockey-family, the lacrosse-family, the Emerson-family, the Hopedale-family, work-families, or our flesh and blood family, we are eternally grateful. I don’t know how I would have survived the last few weeks without the support of my dear friends who I met on the baseball sidelines close to ten years ago.  Brought together by our boys, our friendship is a sisterhood and I owe it to Daniel.  

Thank you again for your ongoing support.  Again, we ask you to remember Dan’s life, not his death.  In the celebration of his life, our friend, Rev. Dereck Jackson challenged us to spread his message and live life to the fullest.  We hope you will join us in taking on this challenge.

“Our Daniel”

From Daniel’s Celebration of Life - October 14, 2019

Daniel made our family complete.  He was sweet and kind, brought comic relief to almost any situation, and genuinely wanted everyone to be happy.  During this difficult time, it has brought our family great comfort to know that he was all of these things and more to all of you.  Today we have asked some of the friends and loved ones who knew him to speak about their time with Dan, but as his parents and the people who literally knew him his entire life we wanted to start the celebration with some of our own words about Dan.

March 9, 2000, began as a cold, dark and gloomy day.  The view from our delivery room at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital was one of angry storm-clouds and rain as we awaited the arrival of our baby boy.  That gloomy atmosphere dissipated almost immediately when in a scene similar to the presentation of Simba in the Lion King (minus the kneeling animals and cool soundtrack),  our doctor placed a 10 lb. man-baby into our arms. For the first time that day, the sun broke through the clouds and completely lit up every corner of the room with warmth and sunshine.  So enamored with our not-so-little guy, we didn’t realize that this would be the first in a seemingly countless list of times that Daniel James Hollis would light up a room by simply entering it.

Over the last two weeks, we have heard and appreciated so many beautiful accounts of Daniel from people who saw him every day and those who may have only met him once or twice.  What has struck us, is that no matter how deep of a relationship there was, it was a relationship. And that, in a nutshell, was Dan.  

As we sat in the ICU at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and shared stories of Dan with his amazing nurses, we realized how often we used the term “best friend”.  Whether talking about his beloved Christie (who had been his best friend since the 6th grade) or his best friend Nick who was boarding a plane to get back to Boston to be by his side or Dah Boys or the Fellas or the hockey teams or lacrosse teams or the Sizzler team of 2010 or roommates or neighbors - we kept describing you all as his best friend. While we are not sure if it is possible to be best friends with every single person in your life we do know, that when Dan was with you he was intent that you have the best time ever and he loved you all individually as only a best friend could.  

As I write this, I imagine Daniel listening and his sheepish smile spreading across his face as the circles on his cheek started to light up red.  He would shrug his shoulders in an “Aw shucks” type of way and ask us to stop because we were embarrassing him, but secretly he’d be loving it. He really wanted to please others and tried to be kind to everyone, but he was not perfect.  In fact, he was messy. The boy could destroy a perfectly clean bedroom in an afternoon’s time and left a trail of his junk wherever he walked. After a long day of work I would come into the house and within 30 seconds be able to tell exactly what he had done all day by simply surveying the room.  He thought I was a psychic, I told him he was just a slob. He was the worst at answering emails and often forgot to respond to texts or phone calls unless of course, he needed money, and he often needed money because he spent all of his money on food, friends, and clothes as soon as he earned it. I also recently discovered a large stack of completed thank you cards from his high school graduation party. Apparently he couldn’t find everyone’s addresses and instead of admitting to me how late he was in completing the cards and asking me for the addresses, he hid them. To add insult to injury, he pocketed the money I gave him for stamps! Did we mention he was a bit of a schemer?   We could go on and on, but, these are just a few examples of how this beautiful boy drove us absolutely crazy, then would turn around and steal our hearts with some small act of kindness, goofy dance, or a simple, “Ooops.”

It may be hard for many of you to believe, but Dan was incredibly shy.  I remember having to give him hour-long pep talks before class officer speeches, theater auditions, and sports tryouts.  I had to pull the car over for him to be sick before the 6th-grade class officer speeches and once again before his first Hopedale Hockey captain’s practice.  He was reluctant to be the center of attention but loved being part of the action. Over time, he gained confidence in himself and with that confidence an appreciation of others and their struggles.  He truly, truly cared about others and would make a fool of himself to take the negative attention off of someone else or make a fool of himself to ensure everyone was having a good time. He often made the smallest of events big, like hosting 4am breakfast and dress-at-home for the hockey team, or hanging with the Banter Squad after lacrosse games, hosting tail-gate parties in our driveway with bottled rootbeer and a deep fryer, his Black Friday shopping trips, drinking wine from goblets and eating cheese while watching Game of Thrones, or spending countless hours at McDonalds where he tried to beat his personal-eating record which remains at 36 nuggets, a McChicken and a McDouble all in one sitting - we were equally horrified and impressed to learn of this feat.  

There are no words to express our grief. Daniel was our bright and shining star.  His journey was cut far too short. While he accomplished so much and made such an impact on those he met his work had only just begun. He had just started to tap into creative arts with clothing design and looked forward to learning more about product/brand development and global marketing.  After an amazing summer trip to Ireland, he had caught the travel bug and planned to return to Ireland to study abroad. He wanted to travel, hear live music, laugh, own lots of dogs, and be surrounded by happy people. He wanted the world to be a better place and we believe he made our world a brighter place by simply being.  Our deepest wish moving forward is that you celebrate who he was, what he meant to you, and use the happy memories of Daniel to light the way ahead. Be kind to one another and remember to smile.



Media Statement from the Family of Daniel J. Hollis October 4, 2019

On behalf of Daniel’s father, Jason Hollis, older sister, Kate Hollis, and our entire extended family I would like to express our family’s gratitude for the overwhelming support sent to us over the last week.  It has become abundantly clear to us that Dan not only made the world brighter for his friends and family, but also for those he encountered.

Hard to ignore due to his height and strawberry-blonde hair, it was his infectious smile and dazzling blue eyes that danced with just a bit of mischief that pulled you in.  To put it simply, Dan loved life and wanted others to share in his happiness. He often quoted his favorite artist Travis Scott in saying, “I want people to have the best time ever.  Especially if they’re around me.”

Daniel was many things student, athlete, leader, artist, music lover, friend.  He was just 19 years old and only beginning to experience the world around him.  His family and the small town of Hopedale, Massachusetts provided a strong foundation from which he took off to explore the thrills of life in the city at Emerson College.  He looked forward to traveling abroad and expanding his creative pursuits through clothing and marketing. While often receiving recognition for his play on the field or ice, it was the camaraderie of the team that Dan most loved about sports.  For Daniel, life was about relationships and enjoying experiences with others.

As we mourn his loss, we take solace in the fact that Dan’s choice to be an organ donor saved the lives of three people on Thursday.  We pray for a speedy recovery and long, prosperous life for the recipients and their families. May they use his gift to make the world a better place.  

Our family would also like to thank the incredible nursing staff and the medical team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for their care and support of Daniel during his final days.  

We stand in full support of the Boston Police Department as they continue their investigation into this matter.  We are confident they will find the individuals responsible for this tragic act of violence and bring them to justice.

In the meantime, we kindly ask that the media refrain from continuing to disturb Daniel’s family and friends during our time of mourning.  We wish to focus our energy on celebrating his life and helping one another learn to live in a world with a little less sunshine.


Jennifer Kelly
(Dan's mom)