DURHAM, NC – On Saturday, April 20th, the #3 Duke Blue Devils will host the Marquette Golden Eagles in the annual HEAD Coaches Classic at 7PM EST. The game will be broadcasted on ACC ESPN Network Extra and is expected to gather a capacity crowd at Koskinen Stadium. This will be the 4th year that both teams will use this game to raise awareness and funds to support of the HEADstrong Foundation, a cause that holds special meaning to both head coaches, John Danowski of Duke and Marquette’s Joe Amplo. This year, both teams are uniting to fund a guest family room at Nick’s House, a home operated by the HEADstrong Foundation, which provides complimentary lodging and support for families in the pursuit of life-saving cancer treatment. Earlier this season, HEADstrong opened their second Nick’s House location which will provide an additional 2,500 complimentary nights for families and more than $1.25 million in relief annually.
HEAD Coaches Classic HistoryThe HEADstrong Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on improving lives affected by cancer that was founded by Nicholas Colleluori, a former Hofstra University lacrosse player who both Amplo and Danowski recruited, coached and fought alongside of during his 14-month battle against non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Colleluori passed away in 2006, he was just 21 years old.
“I learned so much about life through Nick’s incredible journey,” Amplo said. “Cancer did not define or change Nick, in the last days of his life, he was still the same Nick that I recruited and the same Nick that played his heart out for us. He was one of the most charismatic individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and I consider myself privileged to have coached him.” – Joe Amplo, Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Coach
In 2005, Colleluori’s public fight from the sidelines captivated the nation and from his hospital bed he created an organization focused on empowering others 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. 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.
To date, HEADstrong has assisted more than 15,000 families having allocated more than $12.5 million in direct support and family services. 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.
To honor Colleluori and his legacy, the goals will be strung with lime green nets and both teams will take the field wearing HEADstrong accessories.
“Nick Colleluori was the epitome of what at Hofstra we called a Turnpike Guy, which was the highest compliment you could receive. He embodied the classic core values of trust, loyalty, respect and commitment. No one gave greater effort or got more out of his body than Nick did. He demanded perfection from himself while leading by example. When he entered a room, he lit it up with his smile and personality. He was and forever will be a “Turnpike Guy”. – John Danowski, Duke University Men’s Lacrosse Coach
“Both Joe Amplo and John Danowski have a very special place in our hearts,” Cheryl Colleluori said. “I still get very emotional when speaking with either of them, because of all that we have been through together. Our Nick had the upmost respect for both of them. We are so glad that Nick, despite only being there one year prior to his diagnosis had the opportunity to play for such amazing men. One of hardest things that I have ever had to do in my life was tell my son that he had cancer and both Joe and John were by our sides. They supported Nick and our family during our darkest days and continue to be involved in honoring Nick. We are so humbled by their commitment to funding a guest family room at Nick’s House.”
Please visit, www.HEADstrong.org to learn more about how HEADstrong is improving the quality of life for cancer patients and their families.