By Neal Solomon
iPad Donation for Headstrong Fundraising Gala
As I boarded the plane this past Friday in Atlanta making my trip up to Philadelphia for the annual Ward Melville style clinic I had a different feeling running through my body. My normal routine includes some music on the iPad while a watch a slide show of my kids and catch up on some much needed sleep. During this trip however my mind was elsewhere. I was thinking about the day ahead of me and the importance of making a difference in the world. I knew that later that day I would be going to “Nick’s” house in Philadelphia. Nick’s house is the head quarters for the Headstrong foundation and also serves as a place for out of town families to stay who are getting treatment at UPENN Hospital for blood cancer. The Headstrong foundation was started by a Hofstra Lacrosse player named Nick “Head” Colleluori. Nick started the foundation to bring awareness to Non Hotchkiss lymphoma, the disease that would eventually take his life. Nick used the color Lime Green to bring awareness to the disease. Since Nick’s passing his entire family has dedicated their lives to fulfilling Nick’s dream of fighting this terminal illness. For the past three years I have been a supporter of the Headstrong Foundation and have become close to the Colleluori family.
The purpose of the trip to Nick’s House was to drop off an iPAD for the Limelight Gala Fundraiser for the Foundation but more importantly to see Nicks house and learn about the organization. When I pulled up to Nick’s house I knew I was in the right spot when I saw the 27 plaque right next to the front door. As Pat, Nick’s brother greeted me with a big hug, I got chills running through my entire body. The tour started in the garage where all of the lime green shoe laces, shorts, gloves, shirts, ties, hats etc. were located. These items are sold to raise money for the foundation. Pat began to tell us about how they rebuilt this broken down house and turned it into a high functioning office and housing unit. The walls were lime green, the word Relentless covered the Walls and the number 27 was everywhere. There were pictures of the “HEAD” all over representing the memory of Nick. We moved on to the board room in the basement where I was greeted again with a hug from Nick’s brother Mike. The board room was covered with plaques of recognition for the Headstrong Foundation, Magazines with articles about this movement, Lime Green King 3’s, Mini Sticks, Heads, Handles, and more pictures honoring the memory of Nick. I sat with Nick’s brothers and we talked about different ideas on how to build awareness. They told me about all of the wonderful people who have supported the foundation. We talked about the future of the Headstrong Foundation and talked about how amazing it is that the Lacrosse community has come together to fight blood cancer. They explained to me that the reason behind the house was to help out families who couldn’t afford hotels and the unbelievable cost associated with travel while receiving treatment. By providing a facility to house patients, the Headstrong foundation is helping to improve the quality of life for children fighting for their lives. I was so moved by this idea of improving the quality of life for the patients and their families. Talk about really making a difference; they are spot on. After a little while it was time for me to leave. I invited Pat to come to the clinic on Sat to talk to the kids about Nick’s story which he accepted and followed through on.
As I walked out I was filled with so many different emotions. I was sad for the Colleluoris, I thought about the loved ones I have that have succumbed to Cancer. I was excited that the Lacrosse community could rally around this great cause and make a difference. I was also proud that LB3 Lacrosse and my entire family were a part of making a difference. My mother and father have become close to Nick’s parents and spend time with them in Florida at the Warrior and Brine Coaches clinic we do every year. They also represent LB3 at the Lime Light Gala that takes place in March. My brother John coaches in the Headstrong tournament. My Nephew little Johnnie attended the opening of Nicks house with my father and as a family we will do whatever we can to support the Colleluori’s and their fight against Blood Cancer.
I want to make it very clear that the headstrong foundation isn’t a huge foundation with high administrative cost. The headstrong foundation consists of Nicks Family and Nicks close friends. They are making a huge difference in the World and teaching young lacrosse players the importance of blood cancer awareness. Their grassroots approach and RELENTLESS effort is going to change the future. I challenge all of you to become part of this movement. Educate yourself, Educate others, wear lime green while playing lacrosse and donate if you can. I am honored and humbled to be able to know people like the Colleluoris and hope that you all have the opportunity to become part of this movement.
On March 18th, 2012 Dan Carr lost his battle with Brain Cancer. Uncle Dan helped me start LB3 Lacrosse is 2005. Uncle Dan was a great Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle and Friend. He was one of the most unselfish, caring and kind men I have ever met. Uncle Dan was an unbelievable Lacrosse enthusiast. Uncle Dan was taken too early from this world much like Nick “Head” Colleluori. During Uncle Dan’s fight with Cancer the Colleluoris provided assistance to help Dan’s quality of life during his final months. I am truly grateful for the Colleloris and all that they have done.