(University City, PA)- This Thanksgiving will mark the 8th year that the HEADstrong Foundation™ will prepare and serve the traditional feast to the patients and families receiving inpatient care at the Abramson Cancer Center of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Spending the Thanksgiving holiday at Abramson Cancer Center is a reality all too familiar to the Colleluori family, who spearhead the organization. It was here that the family shared their last Thanksgiving with their son, brother and HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori who succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the days following the holiday in 2006. During the last days of his life, Nicholas asked his family to see his vision of the HEADstrong Foundation™ into fruition and to help gather loved ones by serving and sharing the traditional meal with patients and families on his favorite holiday.
Annually, the Colleluori family and a dedicated group of volunteers prepare and serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal to hundreds of patients, families and medical staff. The success of their Thanksgiving feast has spawned HEADtable, a program that regularly serves home-style meals and provides recreational activities for in-patients and their families receiving cancer care at hospitals in Philadelphia. Click here to watch a video on HF’s HEADtable Program.
“Thanksgiving was Nick’s favorite holiday. Serving and sharing the feast has been a privilege that we as a family and organization are honored to provide. It has become a tradition for our family and it has sparked our HEADtable program. Through doing this we have met so many wonderful people, many whom which have joined us in our efforts. It is very encouraging for patients to see survivors working alongside of us because if there is anything that we can share with them during Thanksgiving, it is that they are not alone and that there is hope.” Michael Colleluori, HF VP and Nick’s Brother.
During the day HEADstrong President Cheryl Colleluori accompanied by the group of patient advocates travel the floors to personally meet with every patient and their family to listen and provide support.
Spending the holidays in the hospital can be incredibly hard and discouraging for patients. As a “family first” organization that exists to improve the quality of life for patients, we embrace the importance of the family support network and the role that it plays on a patients moral. Our hope is that patients find strength and inspiration by being around the ones they love and are able to temporarily escape from the realities of being in the hospital. We have walked in the shoes of every patient and family spending the holidays on these floors and we want them to know that they are not alone.” Cheryl Colleluori, HEADstrong President and Nick’s Mom