Real life superhero makes cancer survivor’s dream come true

by Timothy Inklebarger

From left: Pete Houlihan, Nicole Houlihan and Tim Brigham.

It’s been a few months since the dust has settled and Nicole and Pete Houlihan were handed the keys to their new home in Evergreen Park, Illinois.

Through the help of one local nonprofit, the Superhero Collective, headed by mortgage lender Tim Brigham, of The Brigham Team Chicago at Union Home Mortgage, the mortgage on the home is zero dollars.

The home giveaway project was launched by Brigham and the Superhero Collective in 2018 in an effort to bring together his passions for real estate, mortgage lending and helping families in need.

He tells Chicago Agent magazine that the real estate was donated by the Cook County Land Bank Authority, and that’s when the renovation work began.

Brigham and his Chicago area team spent the next few years working on the house and looking for a recipient to occupy it upon completion.

It wasn’t long before the collective discovered Houlihan, an oncology nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2019.

“She has endured multiple procedures to remove the cancer, and she and her husband Pete have shouldered a major financial burden from associated medical bills,” Brigham tells Chicago Agent magazine.

Brigham has a strong connection to Chicagoland hospitals and has spent the last several years dressing as Batman and entertaining sick children as part of the Superhero Collective’s core mission.

Brigham said that after he first toured the home in the 2900 block of 102nd Place, he took a small piece of the structure and kept it with him for the next few years as he and others in the Superhero Collective worked to fix up the home.

“Over the next two years, I would look at that piece of the house as a reminder of what needed to get done,” he said. “When we told Nicole that she was the recipient, I gave her that piece of the home and told her, ‘I’ve been carrying this around for two years; I don’t want it anymore,’ and she broke down crying.”

The project completed earlier this year, and in June, Brigham and the Houlihans unveiled the completed home and were joined by Sen. Iris Martinez; Evergreen Park Mayor Kelly Burke; Angela Mehalek, executive director of the Andrew Weishar Foundation; Rob Rose, director of the Cook County Land Bank; Tiffany Taylor, program director of Renovo Financial; and a number of local community leaders.

Contributors to the project also include Renovo Financial; Rohrman Auto Group; Union Home Mortgage; The Home Depot;  Steven Caban of Full Bars Media; Nik Champion with Champion Insurance; and Dave Hilger with The Andrew Weishar Foundation.

He said the project has attracted attention from nonprofits across the nation aiming to learn how to replicate the cause in other cities.

Brigham said this might not be the only project of its kind, but, for now, he mainly is hoping for the day when the pandemic ends and he can return to what he loves doing best. “I would love for COVID to be completely over,” he said. “My hope is to get back into the hospitals and make some kids smile.”

For more information, email heroes@thesuperherocollective.com.

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