Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, Fox Sports NFL Kickoff Host Charissa Thompson and Professional Golfer/Social Media Personality Paige Spiranac were just 3 of the 16,000,000+ athletes from across the world that united in support of Steph Finley’s fight against Chordoma through Game Hair Havoc. Chordoma is an extremely rare cancer which is diagnosed in just one in one million people each year, which equates to only 300 patients in the US annually and less than 100,000 worldwide. Since last April, Finley has underwent multiple surgeries and procedures to minimize her tumors and joined forces with the HEADstrong Foundation in an effort to help families overcome by cancer. Neither Finley or the HEADstrong Foundation anticipated the global outcry of support, landing the organization at the top of the social media list amongst cancer organizations. To create the sensation, Finley and HEADstrong’s Community Engagement Team strategized the Game Day Hair Challenge and #Tag3 campaign, signifying the number worn by Finley during her time at James Madison University, sparked one of the largest social media campaigns in history!
Aside from the viral social media campaign an additional 1,188 Game Hair Stylers representing 153 Teams secured more than 6,039 donations helping to raise more than $175,000 for families overcome by cancer. The campaign engaged several men’s and women’s sports and levels making Game Hair Havoc one of the most exciting campaigns in the history of the HEADstrong Foundation.
Through Game Hair Havoc, Finley and HEADstrong have created an amazing way to strengthen their commitment to families from across the country through hair braiding and styling on the field. What is sure to be a new tradition during the spring athletic calendar, Game Hair Havoc is an online fundraising campaign encouraging athletes and teams to braid and style their game day hair to raise awareness and funds for the cause.
The proceeds from Game Hair Havoc will be allocated to fund 1,166 nights of lodging and support at Nick’s House, a guest family home operated by the HEADstrong Foundation for families displaced to the Greater Philadelphia Region in the pursuit of life-saving cancer treatment and clinical trials.
This year’s Top Individual Styler was North Carolina State Men’s Basketball Star Wyatt Walker. Walker used his special platform and unique hairstyles to raise $4,187.50. He was followed by Springfield Athletic Association’s Antoinette Franzini who raised $2,315.20 and University of Texas track and field star and cancer survivor Meghan Lloyd who raised $1,904.58.
This year’s Top Fundraising Team was the Lynbrook Owls Girls Lacrosse program based out of Long Island, NY who raised $8,739.45, the Owl’s were followed by Finley’s alma mater and defending NCAA DI Champions James Madison University who raised $5,915.32 and then Flower Mound Girls Lacrosse from Texas who raised $5,223.53.
To provide another competitive layer to the fundraiser, HEADstrong introduced the Great Braid Tirade at the midway point. The Great Braid Tirade is a bracket tournament, in which teams competed in a fundraise-off against live competition.
A bracket of 64 of the top teams went head to head over the remaining 4 weeks. In the end it was Flower Mound Girls Lacrosse who won the title. Ironically, it was Finley herself who coached girls lacrosse at Flower Mound High School when she learned of her diagnosis last March. Since then Finley has undergone multiple surgeries and relocated back to Philadelphia to be under the care of specialists at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Game Hair Havoc was instantly embraced by the athletic community and now seeks to become annual tradition each spring. Plans are underway to build upon the success of the inaugural campaign with the hope of celebrating the unique statement of Game Hair as it pertains to supporting families overcome by cancer.
“In formulating the campaign, we knew we had something special. And given the sensitivity surrounding Steph’s diagnosis and her personal belief in our mission, we felt confident in launching this. We were so humbled by the call to action, response, engagement and positive feedback from athletes and teams across the world. The irony is that when we conceptualized the idea, we were simply looking for a unique way to inspire female athletes to use their hair to make a statement and what transpired was one of the most successful campaigns in social media history! We wish to extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the athletes from across the globe who embraced the campaign with open arms, those who participated in the fundraiser, hosted games, generously contributed and everyone associated with Game Hair Havoc. We are so excited for the future of this campaign and what it will offer in support of families overcome by cancer.” says Pat Colleluori, HEADstrong Chief Development Officer
The HEADstrong Foundation (www.HEADstrong.org) is a non-profit organization committed to improving lives affected by cancer. HEADstrong was founded by Nicholas Colleluori, a Division I athlete entering his sophomore year at Hofstra University when he was terminally diagnosed with cancer. His public fight from the sidelines captivated the nation and from his hospital bed he created an organization focused on empowering student-athletes 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.
Understanding the ripple effect and impact that a cancer diagnosis had on a family, Colleluori championed efforts to support caregivers and capital projects to improve accommodations. 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. HEADstrong invests more than $.90 of every dollar into a service offering 100% committed to improving the quality of life for families affected by cancer. 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, a haven of comfort for families seeking comprehensive cancer care.