Building a Team of Champions to Combat Blood Cancer
How has blood cancer affected me?
My name is Christopher Bryan and I am President of the Headstrong Lacrosse Club. I am honored and blessed to work with the Colleluori Family and the Headstrong Lacrosse Board of Directors to carry out the mission and dreams set forth by Nicholas Colleluori. I was fortunate to work with Nick in 2006 while he was developing his vision and fighting the disease we work to defeat, Cancer.
Your life and the person you are today is a direct correlation to the experiences you have encountered in life and how you respond to each experience. Transitioning from college to the workforce presented me with many learning experiences. During my transition I was fortunate to coach defense at Ridley High School in Folsom, PA from 2001-2004. Little did I know that my experience coaching would forever change my life. Nick Colleluori was handed a long pole in March of his junior year and a starting defenseman in the State Championship game 3 months later. I hope this begins to paint you an image describing Nick and his attitude. Every coach at some point in his/her career will have the opportunity to coach a special person with the tools and raw ability to lead your team from good to great. A player who is self-motivated, plays with an infectious passion on the field and naturally leads teammates through his/her desire to succeed. Their determination to succeed is clearly visible in their leadership, work ethic and drive to make others around them the best they can be. They do not compare themselves to other players, they compete against themselves and their own inherent desire to achieve beyond their own limits. For me, this player was Nick!
Like most kids growing up in America I believed in Superhero’s, and I too, was invincible and destined for Superhero Stardom. Playing sports, going to school and hanging out with my friends consumed my daily life. I watched the news, read the newspapers and heard the stories, but it was never supposed to happen to you or someone close to you, right? Then I met Nick. Through my relationship with Nick, blood-cancer has transformed my life and is an active part of my daily life. I have become closer to my faith. Cancer has shown me that lacrosse, work and material items are unimportant. What is important is the legacy you leave behind when you are no longer here on earth. My experience with blood-cancer has taught me to give back more than I will ever expect to receive and teach the young men in our sport about these basic principles of life. By instilling the same principles set forth by Nick and other cancer patients, youth lacrosse players will become leaders and role models for other youth in our country today. Blood-cancer has strengthened my relationship with God and has given me the strength and ability to share Nick’s story. Sharing the passion of a young man who has inspired me has given me the opportunity to help make a difference in other peoples’ lives.
In September of 2005 I was shocked at the news of Nick’s diagnosis but positive that if anyone could fight cancer and win, it would be Nick. Over the next 14 months, Nick Colleluori taught me a several life lessons. One, be relentless in everything you do and overachieve. Live each day as if it was your last, don’t sweat the small things in life. Secondly, never quit! Nick never quit, he woke up each day with drive, passion and the desire to win and succeed in everything he put his mind to or attempted. Unfortunately, the last was the hardest lesson I had to learn. It was ultimately what has made the greatest impact on my life and brought me closer to my faith and Savior, Jesus Christ. On November 28, 2006, the lesson taught that day was: We can only control a very small percentage of our lives and we must have strong faith and walk with the Lord each day to prepare for our arrival in Heaven. Nick is in Heaven. Nick is not gone, he is spiritually with each of us each day we focus on carrying out the mission he envisioned and dreamed about during his final 14 months with us on earth. It is amazing to watch him continue his relentless work through each person on our Team of Champions and each of you reading this article. I ask each of you to take Nick’s attitude with you and do your part to give back and help others in need. You can join our fight directly by visiting www.headstrongfoundation.org or www.headstronglax.com. Let us inspire you to “Make a Difference.”
Christopher M. Bryan