It didn’t take long to realize that the eighth annual Lime Light Gala had something special going for it.
The atmosphere at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing had already reached a high point before the event’s live appeal, which was highlighted by a live discussion with Chris Hallack at Nick’s House. Hallack, a cop from Scranton with a wife and son, shared his incredible story of staying at Nick’s House, and mentioned that without Nick’s House, he wouldn’t have been able to see his wife and son during his bone marrow transplant and recovery.
“Chris Hallack’s story was so inspiring, and we also had VR tours of the new Nick’s House, which got people so excited to help out the cause,” HEADstrong Chief Marketing Officer Pat Colleluori said. “We had Thomas Drayton from FOX 29 as our emcee, and at one point, he and national recording artist Jessy Kyle stood up and raised $35,000 in 10 minutes, which is the most money we’ve ever raised in the live appeal in the event’s eight years.”
America’s Got Talent finalist Evie Clair got the night kicked off with a phenomenal performance. The 14-year-old made waves last year when she persevered to the finals despite her father battling cancer.
“Evie Clair’s performance was amazing,” Colleluori said. “She has the ability to inspire through her beautiful voice. It just stops people in their tracks, and we had guests in tears because of it. It really started the night on such a positive note.”
HEADstrong President and Nick’s Mom Cheryl Colleluori then captivated the audience with a memorable speech themed Arms to symbolize the arms of support that HEADstrong fighters receive. It gave the Foundation an opportunity to recognize its supporters’ incredible efforts that brought the construction of the second Nick’s House in Swarthmore to life.
As usual, a group of superb and unique honorees highlighted the evening’s schedule. Dr. Daniel Landsburg received the HEADstrong Achievement Award, Sally Kalksma earned the Nicholas E. Colleluori Award and David Regn garnered the Relentless Spirit Award. HEADstrong also launched the Golden Ticket where only 100 tickets were sold for the chance to win a trip to Jamaica. As it turns out, the winner, Ann Armstrong, also has a direct connection to the disease, which made the trip even more significant. Jelly Roll, the house band for the past eight years, was at its best, and a major reason why the night kept going.
“Nick was very present in this year’s event,” Colleluori said. “Not only did the Gala raise the bar for the HEADstrong Foundation, but it certainly surpassed our expectations. Maybe the best part of the night was when everyone was still on the dance floor at 11:30. Usually at these types of events, people leave pretty early, but it really shows the experience and atmosphere that we all contributed to that everyone wanted to stay and have fun.”
For more information on the HEADstrong Foundation please visit www.HEADstrong.org.
About HEADstrong Foundation
The HEADstrong Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to improving lives affected by cancer. HEADstrong was founded by Nicholas Colleluori, a Division I athlete entering his sophomore year at Hofstra University when he was terminally diagnosed with cancer. 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. He built an awareness platform driven by lime green shoelaces, the national awareness color for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He empowered his own family and in the last days of his life asked them to pick up the ball where he left off. It’s a promise that the Colleluori family continues to fulfill through the essential programs and services offered by the HEADstrong Foundation, www.HEADstrong.org. 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. HEADstrong grants financial assistance, funds projects to improve the inpatient experience, provides meals and outlets of entertainment, delivers comfort kits, peer support and most notably operates Nick’s House™, a haven of comfort for families seeking comprehensive cancer care.