Philadelphia, PA – On Thursday, June 12th comedians Joe Conklin, Chris Ruggiero and Michael Baldini HEADlined a new comedy club, located at the Rhoads Pavilion at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. On three floors of the hospital, conference rooms were transformed into lounges as the HEADstrong Foundation™, a 501(C)(3) organization committed to improving quality of life for cancer patients and their families, presented Laugh Your HEAD Off, a new event focusing on instilling laughter and a glimmer of normalcy for those receiving inpatient cancer care and their families.
This special performance was part of HEADtable™, a program that brings the beneficial elements of the family dinner table to Philadelphia based hospitals, by serving home-style meals and providing outlets of entertainment for cancer patients, families and medical staff. At multiple times during the year, HEADstrong team leaders and volunteers transform hospital conference rooms into dining rooms, club box suites, movie theatres and now comedy lounges. Together, families are served meals, refreshments and are treated to special events focused on improving patient moral and accommodations, providing them with a few hours of normalcy.
It was HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori who identified the need for improved accommodations and longed for outlets of entertainment to keep him and others occupied and positive during lengthy inpatient stays. Colleluori valued the importance and benefits of sharing a meal with his family, especially during the holidays. One of his last requests to his family upon his untimely passing in 2006 was for the organization he started to annually serve a traditional Thanksgiving feast at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was treated. A promise kept by his family and supporters that has evolved over the past 7 years, HEADstrong empowers a pool of patient advocates and corporate partners to volunteer to bring programs like Laugh Your HEAD Off to life.
“As an organization conceptualized by a patient and advanced by those directly affected by the diseases, we have a great appreciation and understanding for the circumstances that many patients and families find themselves in. Our direct involvement with the patient population has helped us to evolve ways of improving the overall patient experience. Despite the emotional rollercoaster during our Nick’s 14-month battle with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, we shared plenty of laughs and when we reflect on our Nick, we always are reminded of his contagious smile and laughter. It was his laugh that inspired this new program and we are honored to present Laugh Your HEAD Off for those so desperately in need of one.” Cheryl Colleluori, HF President and Nick’s Mom
About HEADstrong Foundation™
HEADstrong™ is a non-profit organization that serves the cancer community by granting direct financial assistance to those financially impacted as a result of the disease, by providing complimentary long-term housing and amenities for those traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for cancer related treatments through Nick’s House™, by funding innovative blood cancer research through the Nicholas E. Colleluori Lymphoma research fund, by serving family meals and offering outlets of entertainment for those receiving care at hospitals, by delivering comfort kits to newly hospitalized patients preparing for treatment or transplant and by lending an arm of support through their peer to peer advocacy group.
The blueprints for the Foundation were conceptualized by Nicholas “HEAD” Colleluori in 2006, while he underwent treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which ultimately claimed his life. Today, Nick’s vision is being fulfilled through the relentless efforts of his family, athletes and supporters across the country uniting in the fight against blood cancers.
For more information on the HEADstrong Foundation™ and how they are Getting aHEAD of Cancer™ go to www.HEADstrong.org.