HEADstrong Foundation Thanksgiving Feast for Families

PHILADELPHIA,PA – The HEADstrong Foundation is pleased to announce its 4th annual Thanksgiving Dinner in memory of Nicholas “HEAD” Colleluori Thursday, November 25th “4th anniversary of his passing” from 2pm – 4pm in the Rhoades Pavilion of University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia.

Thanksgiving dinner will be served complete with all the trimmings and to the families whom are sharing the holiday by the side of their sick loved one.

Nick’s journal entries written during his relentless battle at University of Pennsylvania Hospital created a clear vision and mission for the HEADstrong Foundation. These entries laid the building blocks for the Foundation to reach out and help others through his experiences. This year each patient will be given a care package with a lime green journal, blanket and a few other essentials to try to provide an extra sense of comfort, during these difficult times.

Let food, family and friends bring those together for a Thanksgiving feast.

The HEADstrong Foundation led by the Colleluori family in memory of their son, and brother Nicholas, is defining the true meaning of Thanksgiving. While most families spend the holiday around the table, sharing the festive meal together, the HEADstrong Foundation is working diligently in an effort to provide the comforts of Thanksgiving to those who can’t be home for the holiday.

Over the past four years the Colleluori family and a ever expanding crew of volunteers have prepared and served the traditional meal to hundreds of blood cancer patients, their families and the medical staff at University of Pennsylvania Hospital; an event which has become an annual tradition for the family and their Foundation. The HEADstrong Foundation is Delaware County based non-profit organization which is committed to educating the public and raising awareness of blood cancer, raising funds oriented in assisting patients and their families, promoting the importance of bone marrow donations, supporting ground breaking research efforts, promoting the family support network and fulfilling Nick’s dream of eventually defeating blood cancer the way that Nick defeated his opponents on the playing field – with true heart, fearless ambition and relentless drive.

The Rhoades Pavilion at UPENN holds a significant meaning to the family; it was here four years ago that the Colleluori family shared their final Thanksgiving holiday with their son, brother and HEADstrong founder Nicholas E. Colleluori, who succumbed to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on November 28, 2006 at the young age of 21.

“This holiday offering was one of our Nick’s final requests as he understood that when a loved one is ill, you have no idea which day of week it is, let alone that a holiday is approaching. It is our family’s way to give thanks for the gift of Nick and to stay connected to him. It is our privilege to serve the blood cancer community, the community that Nick belonged to in the latter part of his life.” according to HEADstrong Foundation President Cheryl Colleluori

In addition to providing the Thanksgiving meal and live entertainment for the group; the Colleluori family and volunteers including a group blood cancer survivors lend themselves in a supportive nature by sharing their experiences, listening to patients and supportively consulting the families. This year they are looking to make a larger difference by distributing Comfort Kits to the patients.

“We wanted to do something really special that would make a difference directly in the eyes of the patients. We interviewed a group of blood cancer survivors and patients and put together a list of essential daily items that they wished they had during their treatments including a comfortable blanket and journal. We created Comfort Kits and they will be distributed to all of the inpatients being treated in the Rhoades Pavilion on Thanksgiving Day.” says Vice President Michael Colleluori

The mission day of is to celebrate the life of Nicholas Colleluori by transforming conference rooms into dining rooms while providing a glimmer of normalcy and a break from the reality and stress associated with the fight against this disease.

“I was in the hospital being treated for Leukemia, during the Thanksgiving feast organized by the HEADstrong Foundation. Considering the circumstances it was the best and most meaningful Thanksgiving in my life.” says Joseph Clifford, blood cancer survivor. “I was blown away to see how much people cared. There were in total 26 members of my family in attendance. It was only for a few hours but I felt like I was back home with my family with no worries about cancer or being in the hospital.”

An overwhelming amount of support and patient interest in having alternative meal options has sparked interest in having the HEADstrong Foundation provide dinners on monthly basis. The Foundation is currently in discussions and strategically planning a program called Wishes for Dishes which would make this a reality. The HEADstrong Foundation has also announced that they will be hosting their 1st Inaugural Lime Light Gala, scheduled for Friday March 25, 2011. The event will benefit the HEADstrong Foundation in partnership with The Abramson Cancer Center at University of Pennsylvania and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing. For ticket and or corporate sponsorship information please contact www.headstrongfoundation.org/limelightgala.