HEADstrong Announces Call To Action To Grant Prom Wish For Student Battling Terminal Cancer
(Philadelphia, Penn., May 14, 2021) – As is the case with many high school students, the Spring months bring to mind two things for David Alexander III, a junior at James Wood High School in Winchester, Virginia – sports and prom. However, for Alexander those two things are not simple.
A lacrosse player since fourth grade, Alexander honed his skills with several programs in the local area and most recently with the Handley High School regional club team, as James Wood doesn’t offer boy’s lacrosse. That was put on hold in October when his world was turned upside down.
After experiencing several months of excruciating pain, Alexander was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive bone cancer called chondroblastic osteosarcoma. Upon evaluation and 10 rounds of unsuccessful treatment, specialists determined that Alexander would require a major surgery that would have amputated most of his lower body followed by lengthy hospitalizations and continued chemotherapy with only a 25% chance of survival. Facing these horrific odds and valuing quality of life, he made the courageous decision to stop his cancer treatments and find peace in his remaining time.
As word of Alexander’s diagnosis began to trickle through the close-knit lacrosse community, his story made its way to HEADstrong Chief Development Officer Pat Colleluori, who knows all too well what a diagnosis like this means for Alexander. Colleluori immediately reached out to him to extend an olive branch, open lines of communication and offer support.
“I wasn’t sure of what I was going to encounter with David, all I knew is that, this was a young man who loved lacrosse, who was facing the unthinkable and despite that hardship, it was our commitment to be a teammate to him, especially during this time,” Colleluori said. “Our initial conversation was really special, we just connected and both found the call to be cathartic. After that initial conversation, I posed the question of how the HEADstrong Foundation could play our position for him.”
Alexander responded with a one word answer – Prom. He wished to be able to attend his Prom and experience one more incredible night with his closest friends knowing that in the near future things would inevitably take a turn for the worse. Upon learning of his special request, the HEADstrong Foundation immediately went to work planning a special experience that included formalwear, flowers, photography and limousine service but when James Wood High School decided to cancel their scheduled prom due to restrictions, HEADstrong offered to help secure a safe outdoor venue and provide entertainment so David could experience his Prom with some of his dear friends.
HEADstrong now looks to its faithful lacrosse community and supporters alike to join them in granting Alexander’s “Last Dance” wish. A special fundraising page has been created to empower players and teams alike to make a donation to give David the most memorable experience possible. Donations can be made at Pledge.headstrong.org/davidalexander.
“It is our privilege to be a teammate to David and his family during this time,” Colleluori said. “Given the severity of the circumstances and the courageous decision that David has made, we felt that delivering his Prom was a great way to help. We are humbled to stand with David and his family through this journey. Our hope is to make David happy, create memories that his friends will hold close to their hearts and remember him by.”
Throughout the NCAA Tournament, the University of Virginia Cavaliers, who hosted Alexander at a game earlier this season, wore lime green HEADstrong shoelaces in honor of David. The team captured their second-consecutive NCAA title on Monday, May 31st while wearing them.
Help those affected by cancer by purchasing a pair of your very own lime green laces just like UVA wore during their NCAA Tournament run. Laces are available at https://headstrong.org/product-category/shoelaces/.
Right now, Alexander is taking in the moments, savoring each one and trying to create as many memories as possible for those who know him best can remember him by. He is living in the moment and finding peace and solace with each day.
While he is undergoing palliative care to control his pain and discomfort, it is lacrosse that is proving to be the best medicine. Despite a season impacted by the lingering effects of COVID-19, Handley High School boys lacrosse is back on the playing field. In an effort to keep Alexander involved with his team, coach Mike Beutel extended an offer for him to join the coaching staff. Alexander is serving as a volunteer coach, helping Beutel run practices and “the box” during games. Being with his friends and continuing to be around the game has provided a much needed distraction from the everyday challenges that he is dealing with.
Rather than focus on the uncontrollable and wallow in despair, Alexander has been very transparent and rather vocal about his decision.
“My doctors were basically saying that I was going to pass either way,” he said. “I don’t like saying I gave up, I’m having the better rest of my life, having a more comfortable, family-filled life than having a hospital life.”
For more information on the HEADstrong Foundation please visit www.HEADstrong.org or follow on social media at @HEADstrongFND.