Lace Up With HEADstrong
While enduring a 40-day inpatient stay at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to undergo an autologous stem cell transplant, HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori began to strategize and develop an awareness item to unite athletes in the fight the against cancer. Colleluori wanted to tie people to the cause and thought that shoelaces were the perfect item to do it. Colleluori envisioned athletes, teams, supporters and survivors from across the country purchasing and proudly lacing up to fund essential programs focused on improving quality of life for cancer patients and their families.
The lime green laces would signify the awareness color for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and he believed that the vibrancy of the color would aid in visibility and awareness. Colleluori would spend the last months of his life relentlessly constructing the framework of the HEADstrong Foundation. The organization would be anchored by lime green HEADstrong laces, which have become HF’s primary awareness platform in the 15 years since his passing on November 28, 2006, helping raise over $20 million to assist over 20,000 families affected by cancer.
As the 2007 collegiate men’s lacrosse season drew near, Coach Chris Bates of Drexel University approached the Colleluori family about taking the field in the laces for their first televised home game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Just as Colleluori predicted, the vibrancy of the lime green laces intrigued and excited commentators, spectators and viewers alike. People began to ask, “Why are Drexel wearing lime green shoelaces?”, and just as Colleluori predicted, word began to circulate about the HEADstrong. One week later Colleluori’s alma mater, Hofstra University, wore them, followed by Princeton University, Duke University and soon thereafter professional, collegiate, high school and youth teams from across the country joined the HEADstrong movement by Lacing Up.
Today, the laces have been revered as a symbol of hope and strength uniting athletes, survivors and supporters to be relentless in the fight against cancer.