For Immediate Release
Contact: Ed Morrone
A Division-I lacrosse player himself, John Natoli personally resonated with the person Nick Colleluori was. It was for this reason that Natoli knew that he had to get involved in raising funds for the HEADstrong Foundation, but even he couldn’t have anticipated the response he would ultimately get.
Natoli, a sophomore attack at Lafayette College, was HEADstrong’s top Go Lime fundraiser in 2017, raising more than $4,000. This year, the Mountain Lakes, N.J., native kicked it up a few notches, essentially doubling that total as he now has raised $8,030 in 2018. As a lacrosse player growing up, Natoli was aware of HEADstrong’s mission, but it wasn’t until he got to Lafayette when he began to educate himself on what Colleluori started and his family continued to build after he passed away from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006 at the age of 21.
“Just by reading about Nick, I could feel his positive attitude,” Natoli said. “He maintained that through his journey and was always looking out for others and not making it about himself, which is unbelievable. Lacrosse is a sport we all love, and playing at the Division-I level, his story just taught me that you can’t take a single moment for granted because you never know what could happen any given day. It was an unfortunate thing that happened to him, but the way he handled it was so motivating, and a big reason why I decided to sit down and raise as much money as I could and help the community.”
As far as the method to Natoli’s fundraising madness, his route to success was fairly simple. He reached out to everyone he could in his personal network, cold calling folks via phone, email and text. Natoli explained what HEADstrong and its founder stood for, taking 30 to 60 minutes on designated days to contact people in hopes of getting them to donate.
“I reached out to a bunch of people last year, and didn’t know the response I’d get,” Natoli said. “I knew I’d raise some dollars, but a few thousand? No way. This year, I just expanded my list and told everyone how honored and grateful my team and I were to be a part of this amazing foundation. Without the support of the community, I wouldn’t have been able to raise all this money, so it’s a credit to them.”
Just like almost every person walking the planet, Natoli has been personally impacted by cancer. He cited two distant relatives passing away from the disease, and it also took his grandfather.
“Cancer affects so many people around the world,” Natoli said. “I can think of 100 people I know personally who were negatively affected by such a horrible disease, and that’s been my singular motivation. When the opportunity presented itself, I thought, why not try my best to raise as much as I can? Hopefully, I can beat what I did this year next year, and the year after that.”
If anything, Natoli’s endeavor has been a reinforcement in his belief of the inherent goodness of people. With so much focus on the negative in the news cycle and around the world, it can be easy to forget the generosity of the human spirit.
“Just deleting the email I sent to people would have been easy to do,” Natoli said. “Instead, many read it and took it upon themselves to check out the foundation and help support such an amazing organization. So many people have gone out of their way to donate, whether it’s a dollar or $100, they’ve made an effort to support a cause bigger than themselves. I hope that it’s able to help a ton of people.”
This Sunday, Oct. 21, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, Natoli and his Lafayette lacrosse team will be one of 12 collegiate programs from around the country to participate in the University City Classics. The men’s and women’s events are part of HEADstrong’s Fall Lacrosse Series, a series of nine exhibition tournaments spanning three weekends in October designed to raise money for the foundation while celebrating Nick Colleluori’s life and legacy through the sport he loved so dearly.
That fact is not lost on Natoli, especially after his immensely successful fundraising efforts. He said he can’t wait to travel to Philadelphia with his team to participate.
“I think I speak for myself and the entire team in saying we’re extremely grateful to be part of this,” he said. “Everyone is jacked up for this weekend. We can’t wait to get there and compete and being there with people all supporting the same cause. A lot of the kids on these teams have lost loved ones to cancer, so it gives you a little extra fire in your stomach out there. At the end of the day, we’re all there for the same reason, and it’s really cool to be able to play for Nick and anyone you may know who had cancer or was lost to it. I remember last year’s event fondly, just full of good vibes and showing up for a bigger reason than ourselves. That’s the truly special thing.”