Makayla was born September 29, 1998 to Rick and Karen Nicolaas.  Makayla joined older sisters Mackenzie and Mallory and older brother Bryson.  She was always full of energy, attitude and toughness, pretty typical of youngest siblings!  Makayla loved animals, the outdoors and many sports, particularly basketball.  Makayla enjoyed a wonderful childhood with an amazingly involved family, a wonderful home on acreage, where physical activities and animals abounded, and spectacular friendships that filled her days with laughter and good times.   She packed A LOT into her 13 years!

In the middle of the summer leading to her 6th grade year, Makayla woke up one morning with half of her face “frozen”.  She was diagnosed as having a form of Bells Palsy and told that it would subside in a few months.  When it didn’t subside, Makayla went to Childrens’ Hospital and a Cranial-Facial clinic to see what could be done.  No one had any answers at this point.  Shortly thereafter, Makayla noticed some swollen glands on her neck.  At this point she was referred to an ENT doctor who did a biopsy and then removed the lymph node.  She was diagnosed with cancer on August 3, 2011 at 12 years old.

Makayla fought a tough battle during the next 11 months with little complaining.  There were many appointments, procedures and surgeries, but  she conquered each one like a champ.  Her faithful friend Savanna was with her every step of the way!  Makayla’s battle ended on July 8, 2012.

She had a tremendous impact in the competitive basketball arena.  Many teams reached out to her family during her fight and after she passed.   Skyline and Lynden both had players come to her memorial service.  The WESCO league included her name on their league shirts this season.  It is amazing to see the compassion and support from families that wanted nothing more than to beat Makayla’s team on the court.  When Makayla needed the support, they were right there!  

One of Makayla’s favorite things was to compete in 3-on-3 tournaments.  She had an intense sense of competition and was incredibly tough.  In fact, many called her Nails, short for “tough as nails”.  By hosting a 3-on-3 in her name we will be celebrating her love of the sport, remembering how fierce of a competitor she was, and raising funds to help fight childhood cancers!  No child should have to fight this fight.

Makayla’s STREET JAM Committee

Our Mission: Makayla’s Street JAM 3-on-3 –“Hoopin’ for a Cure” annual basketball tournament honors the passion that Makayla Nicolaas brought to the game, while providing the Ferndale community with a successful, family-focused event that is a catalyst for raising awareness and funding for the eradication of childhood cancers.

Makayla’s family has been involved with Ferndale Girls Basketball Assoc.(FGBA) for over 10 years.  FGBA is a non-profit entity that runs competitive girls basketball teams for grades 5th – 8th, in Ferndale, WA.  Makayla and her 2 older sisters, Mackenzie and Mallory, played on FGBA teams, mom Karen served on the Chelsey Ebert Jam Committee and dad Rick coached Makayla’s team, including the year after Makayla passed!   Because of this deep connection, FGBA felt a calling to help create this event for Makayla and continues to support it in every way possible.

In 2018, due to the fantastic growth of the event, the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce took over coordination of the event as it directly supports their mission of connecting commerce and community.  Bringing our local Whatcom County businesses together to support this event and bringing in the local basketball talent to play and enjoy Ferndale are a great way to help grow the event even more.

Makayla’s Street Jam Committee is comprised of:

  • Rick & Karen Nicolaas, Makayla’s parents, past Chelsey Ebert Jam Committee members
  • Makenzie & TJ Genger, Makayla’s sister and brother-in-law
  • Mallory Nicolaas, Makayla’s sister
  • Roger & Vonda Boxx, Boxx Berry Farm, past FGBA members
  • John  Cruikshank, Chelsey Ebert Jam Tournament Director, FGBA President
  • Kay Cruikshank, FGBA Treasurer
  • Jessica Cruikshank, past FGBA player
  • Mike & Wendy Hammes, Ram Construction
  • Chris Hart, Boss Construction, past FGBA member
  • Charlotte Hart, Marketing Project Manager, past FGBA member
  • Jim & Kelly Slaughter, past Chelsey Ebert Jam Committee members
  • Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, Staff