Journal

Journal entry by Jen Kelly

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.  

 

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Journal entry by Jen Kelly

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.  

Journal entry by Jen Kelly

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.

 

Journal entry by Jen Kelly

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.


Sincerely,

Jennifer Kelly
(Dan's mom)

 

Journal entry by Jen Kelly

We are proud to share that Dan's gifts have saved three lives today.  Additionally, the surgeons were able to recover his heart valves and those will be able to be donated at a later date.  Our thoughts and prayers go to the recipients' families.  May they heal quickly and live long and prosperous lives.

Journal entry by Jen Kelly

Good morning.  Our entire family continues to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and well wishes from those who knew Dan or knew of him.  Many of you may be aware that Emerson College is holding a vigil for Daniel at 12pm today (October 3rd). The vigil is intended for the Emerson community.  We will not be attending, but be there in spirit as we continue to process our incredible loss.


Our family will hold services and a celebration of Dan’s incredible life next weekend.  We will provide details as they become available. In the meantime, we know many of you are holding impromptu gatherings and sharing stories of Dan and his antics.  We ask that you find comfort in one another and the happy memories. We will gather formally in a little over a week’s time. Thank you for respecting our privacy and our wishes.

 

Journal entry by Kate Hollis

Our beautiful boy’s journey ended this evening at approximately 5:32pm. 

True to his caring and giving nature, Daniel chose to be an organ donor. We pray that his gifts will prevent other families from experiencing the heartbreak we are currently experiencing. 

Our deepest appreciation goes to all who have kept us in their thoughts and prayers. We ask you now to turn those prayers and good wishes to the many friends and family who have to learn how to live with a little less sunshine. 

Sincerely,
Jen, Kate & Jay 

Journal entry by Jen Kelly

It is with the heaviest of hearts that Jay, Kate, and I share our latest update.  


When Dan first arrived at the hospital on Saturday morning he was unresponsive, because he was young and healthy the medical team decided to perform emergency surgery.  If it had been an older patient, they would not have even attempted the surgery.


He made it through the first surgery, but we were warned the next 72-hours would be critical as they learned more about how much damage was done.  This morning we met with Dan’s medical team and the latest scans show extensive and unrepairable damage to large sections of his brain. Due to the damage to his brain stem, he will not regain consciousness.  Additionally, there is damage to areas of the brain that control body functions such as breathing and his heart. He will not be able to sustain life, even with the aid of life support systems.  


The medical team will continue to keep him comfortable and pain-free while we wait for family to arrive.  Please continue to keep Dan in your thoughts and prayers. We ask that you focus on the positive: his infectious smile, his goofy sense of humor, his love for music, hockey, lacrosse and most importantly his love for his friends and family.  The positive energy is making it to him and surrounding him with love while he is still with us.


We will continue to update this website as Dan’s journey nears its end.  Please keep our family in your hearts during this difficult time.

 

Journal entry by Jen Kelly

On Sunday we were able to spend the majority of the day with Dan in his room.  We played the video messages from his friends, his favorite playlists, and shared story after story.  In my heart, I know he feels the love being sent from all of you, so please keep it coming.

The ICU staff loves his playlists.  They are all identifying their favorite songs and we often hear what great taste in music he has.  There's a little something for everyone's taste.  One of Dan's favorite classes at Emerson was his History of American Music.  He absolutely loved his professor and would practically repeat her lectures to me on the phone when we would chat.  There are quite a few songs on his playlist (New Edition, Alicia Keyes) thanks to her.  

Kate and I slept at a local hotel last night while Jay spent the night at the hospital.  He was able to talk to Dan all night long.  Today, thanks to the incredible kindness of the Sether family, we will have access to a nearby apartment.  While it is difficult to be away for even a few minutes, after having been able to sleep in a bed for a few hours completely restored my own energy levels.  

We will be meeting with his medical team later this afternoon to discuss Dan's treatment plan and review his progress.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  

Journal entry by Jen Kelly

We have been here for 24 hours.  Last night Dan went for an MRI and we met with the head of the Neuro ICU this morning.  We didn't have any setbacks last night and all of his levels have been stable.  The extent of the damage is not yet clear, so keep that positive energy coming.  We love seeing all the happy pics of Dan on social media.  We've been reading all of your comments to him and telling him about the pictures.

Additionally, many of you know Dan loves music.  He doesn't play or sing (or at least not well) but he has a deep appreciation for a wide variety of music.  We've been playing him his favorite songs and are so grateful to those that have shared playlists of his favorite music for us. The nursing staff thinks we're slightly insane, but they're sharing their go-to karaoke favorites too!  Keep playing his songs, sharing his stories, and sending that love to him!
Daniel’s Story

Site created on September 29, 2019



Daniel (Dan, Dangy) Hollis lights up the room with his infectious smile and love for life. He is a sophomore at Emerson College where he studies Marketing Communications and is a member of the Mens’ Lacrosse Team.  


Early on Saturday, September 28th Dan and his friends were leaving a party and were confronted by another group of college-aged boys.  Words were exchanged, pushing/shoving started, and in the scuffle, we believe Dan was hit and subsequently hit his head on cement/bricks as he fell.  He was brought to a local Boston hospital and was diagnosed with a blood clot on his brain requiring immediate surgery.


The initial surgery was successful, however, with all brain injuries the first 72 hours are critical.  Dan was placed in a medically induced coma to aid in his recovery. He has suffered some damage to his brain, yet the doctors are unable to pinpoint how much and how severe the damage remains.  We will use this website to update the many friends and family members of Dan’s progress. We are incredibly grateful and humbled by the outpouring of love and ask only for you to send your prayers, healing thoughts, and love to Dan as he fights this incredibly difficult battle.


“I’m just here for good times, man
I want people to have the best time ever.
Especially if they’re around me.”
~Travis Scott



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