For Immediate Release
Contact: Ed Morrone
HOLMES, Pa. — This coming Thanksgiving will commemorate the 11th consecutive year that the HEADstrong Foundation will coordinate and serve a traditional holiday feast to patients, as well as their families, receiving inpatient care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Every holiday season, HEADstrong, the Colleluori Family and a legion of dedicated volunteers descends upon Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center to bring the spirit of Thanksgiving to those forced to spend the holiday in the hospital, as well as to the medical personnel assisting patients. The annual Thanksgiving meal is part of HEADstrong’s HEADtable program, which serves meals and provides entertainment events and recreational activities to inpatients receiving cancer care at Philadelphia-area hospitals.
The Colleluori’s have always made it a priority to spend time at the hospital around Thanksgiving, as the family knows all too well the pain that cancer can inflict upon a family during the holiday season. It was at HUP where they spent their last Thanksgiving with their son, brother and HEADstrong founder Nick Colleluori, who succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma two days after Thanksgiving in 2006. In the last days of his life, Nick asked his family to help see his HEADstrong vision into fruition, and they started by gathering loved ones to serve and share the traditional Thanksgiving meal with fellow patients and their families on his favorite holiday.
HEADstrong supporters are encouraged to pledge $20 to provide a delicious turkey feast along with all the Thanksgiving fixins, prepared by Rastelli Catering and served by HEADstrong’s dedicated staff. To give the gift of Thanksgiving to somebody spending the holiday in the hospital, click HERE.
“Giving thanks for all the gifts in our life and the opportunity to gather with family is the reason Thanksgiving was Nick’s favorite holiday,” said Cheryl Colleluori, HEADstrong President and Nick’s mom. “It was his idea to provide the holiday to families hospitalized for inpatient treatment. He said ‘Why should they have to give up their holiday, they are giving up enough. Let’s bring it to them!'” It’s where it all began. Keeping families together is at the heart of our organization.”
Volunteers transform hospital conference rooms into seasonally-decorated dining areas and are eventually joined by patients and families, who get to leave the confines of their rooms and enjoy the sense of normalcy an occasion like Thanksgiving offers. Together throughout multiple floors, individuals become family while partaking in delicious Thanksgiving good and even enjoying the traditional football games that accompany the holiday on television. In addition to serving meals, Cheryl Colleluori and her team of volunteers and survivors once treated at HUP fan out across four floors to distribute comfort kits and provide emotional support to every single patient.
For more information on the HEADstrong Foundation and its mission of improving lives affected by cancer, visit headstrong.org and follow @HEADstrongFnd on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.