Getting A HEAD of Cancer
Contact: Pat Colleluori
PHILADELPHIA, PA – With Monday, March 27th being celebrated around the world as the birthday of the modern day shoelace, the HEADstrong Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to improving lives affected by cancer is empowering others to join their fight by purchasing HEADstrong’s signature lime green shoelaces and lacing up to support for those affected by disease. The powerful story of HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori and creation HEADstrong’s shoelaces is one that touches the heart and is inspiring people from all over the country to get involved with the cause.
Purchase your pair of HEADstrong shoelaces for $5.00 with 100% proceeds supporting the essentials services of the HEADstrong Foundation at https://headstrong.org/product-category/shoe-lace/.
HEADstrong founder, Nicholas Colleluori was a Division I lacrosse player entering his sophomore year at Hofstra University when he was terminally diagnosed with cancer in 2005. Colleluori wore #27 as a member of the Pride. His public fight from the sidelines captivated the nation and from his hospital bed he created an organization focused on empowering student-athletes to improve lives affected by the disease. His vision was simple yet critical; helping real families when they needed it most, providing support so that families may live with a greater dignity and normalcy. Colleluori fought to improve the inpatient experience, the affordability and accessibility of care and tackled the general concerns facing the patient population. Understanding the ripple effect and impact that a cancer diagnosis had on a family, Colleluori championed efforts to support caregivers and capital projects to improve accommodations.
While enduring a 40-day inpatient stay at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to undergo an autologous stem cell transplant, HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori began to strategize and develop an awareness item to unite athletes in the fight the against cancer. Colleluori sought inspiration from a pair of shoes that sat by his bedside. For someone who had been battling non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for over 12 months and had been bed ridden for the past 40 days, Colleluori dreamed of the chance to take the lacrosse field and live a normal life once again. He asked his mother for his shoes and began to lace them up. He sat up in the bed and starred out the window of the 6th floor hospital room and gazed out onto the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
“What are you doing?” his mother Cheryl asked. Nick replied “I am taking a walk in my mind.” Below him was the hustle and bustle of a college campus, with students his own age going off into many directions. Some of them were heading to class, some of them heading to the dining hall and some were heading to practice, much like Colleluori did at Hofstra University. At only 19, Colleluori was faced with great odds against the disease and as he thought about it, he realized that he was one of the youngest patients on his floor. Rather than wallow in pity or fear, Colleluori used his youthfulness as motivation for making a difference for those who would follow in his shoes. “Mom, can you hand me your note pad?” Nick asked. Being a caregiver to her son, Cheryl’s note pad was her lifeline. It was where she kept journal entries, her son’s vitals, his treatment schedule, nurse rotation and questions for his doctors. Nick ripped a blank page from the notebook and begun to sketch the idea that sparked the HEADstrong Foundation. Shoelaces!
Colleluori wanted to tie people to the cause and the shoelaces were the perfect item to do it. Colleluori envisioned athletes, teams, supporters and survivors from across the country purchasing and proudly lacing up to fund essential programs focused on improving quality of life for cancer patients and their families. The lime green laces would signify the awareness color for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and he believed that the vibrancy of the color would aid in visibility and awareness. Nicholas would spend the last months of his life relentlessly constructing the framework of the HEADstrong Foundation. The organization would be anchored by lime green HEADstrong laces which have become HF’s primary awareness platform. On November 28, 2006 Colleluori lost his courageous battle against the disease.
As the 2007 collegiate men’s lacrosse season drew near, Coach Chris Bates of Drexel University approached the Colleluori family about taking the field in the laces for their first televised home game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Just as Colleluori predicted, the vibrancy of the lime green laces intrigued and excited commentators, spectators and viewers alike. People began to ask, “Why are Drexel wearing lime green shoelaces?”, and just as Colleluori predicted, word began to circulate about the HEADstrong. One week later Colleluori’s alma mater Hofstra University wore them, followed by Princeton University, Duke University and soon thereafter professional, collegiate, high school and youth teams from across the country joined the HEADstrong movement by Lacing Up.
Today, the laces have been revered as a symbol of hope and strength uniting athletes, survivors and supporters to be relentless in the fight against cancers.
HEADstrong Foundation has continued to grow at an astonishing pace, emerging as a vital resource to families affected by cancer. From diagnosis to a hopeful remission, HEADstrong plays a critical role every step of the way. The organization was conceived by Hofstra lacrosse player Nicholas Colleluori in wake of his terminal diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Colleluori’s public fight from the sidelines captivated the nation and from his hospital bed he created an organization focused on empowering student-athletes to improve lives affected by the disease. His vision was simple yet critical; helping real families when they needed it most, providing support so that families may live with a greater dignity and normalcy. Colleluori fought to improve the inpatient experience, the affordability and accessibility of care and tackled the general concerns facing the patient population. Understanding the ripple effect and impact that a cancer diagnosis had on a family, Colleluori championed efforts to support caregivers and capital projects to improve accommodations
HEADstrong invests more than $.90 of every dollar into a service offering 100% committed to improving the quality of life for families affected by cancer. The organization has assisted more than 14,000 families having allocated more than $10 million in aid.
To donate, get involved or learn more please visit www.HEADstrong.org. Follow HEADstrong Foundation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @HEADstrongFnd.