Annual Turkey Drive Proceeds Despite COVID-19

For Immediate Release
Contact: Drew Haig
Phone: 610-461-5987
[email protected]

(HOLMES, PA) This coming Thanksgiving will commemorate the 13th consecutive year that the HEADstrong Foundation will coordinate a traditional holiday meal for patients and their families, as well as well as the staff at the Abramson Cancer Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Bringing the family spirit of Thanksgiving to those receiving inpatient care during the holiday was a goal of HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori, and the tradition has continued on as a staple of the patient services offering from the foundation. The annual Thanksgiving meal is part of HEADstrong’s HEADtable program, which serves meals and provides entertainment events and recreational activities to patients receiving cancer care at Philadelphia-area hospitals.

Of course, this year will look slightly different. In past years, the Colleluori family, HF team, and a legion of volunteers team up to serve the Thanksgiving meal on each floor of the oncology department, taking time to interact with the families and helping to bring a desperately needed sense of normalcy in an abnormal holiday setting. With the necessary restrictions due to the COVID-19, access to the hospital is not possible. Instead, longtime partner and supporter Rastelli Catering will prepare and deliver the meals to be served directly to patients and staff by authorized personnel.

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 Nicholas, 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.

“Thanksgiving was our last holiday together as a family. For the last 13 years, we have fulfilled our last promise to Nick that others would benefit from his life and bringing Thanksgiving to the hospital was the very first thing we did to honor him. Nick was adamant about us serving at the hospital and we will not let COVID-19 get in the way of that promise. We are thankful to be a resource to families just like ours,” said Cheryl Colleluori, president and Nick’s Mom.

HEADstrong supporters are encouraged to pledge $25 to a hero fighting cancer. This amount will provide a delicious turkey feast along with all the Thanksgiving fixings. To give the gift of Thanksgiving to somebody spending the holiday in the hospital, click HERE.

For more information on the HEADstrong Foundation and its mission of improving lives affected by cancer, visit and follow @HEADstrongFnd on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.