Nick’s Story: Where It All Began


Our beginnings started with the reality that is cancer. After doctors told HEADstrong founder Nick Collouri that he had cancer, his life changed forever. As a three-sport athlete, Nick was known for his mental toughness, determination and aggressiveness on the field. Throughout high school, he received countless accolades in football, wrestling and lacrosse, and he was an all-star both on and off the field. Nick went on to accept an athletic scholarship at Hofstra University, where he joined their Men’s Lacrosse Program—his childhood dream.

During Nick’s freshman year, he took the field in all 16 games. As his freshman year was coming to a close, Nick received news that changed his life and so many others lives. In April 2005, Nick woke up one morning unable to hear from his right ear, and shortly after he was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer affecting the lymphatic system.

The Foundation

After being diagnosed, Nick realized the lack of resources for cancer patients and their families. While undergoing treatment, Nick met a family that had traveled more than 500 miles and had been living out of their car in pursuit of life saving cancer treatments for their daughter. After seeing the lengths families would go to help their loved ones, it became Nick’s life mission to help those who had been affected by cancer. Nick created the HEADstrong Foundation to raise awareness and funds for cancer by empowering athletes to support his mission. He drew the organization’s logo moments before entering the operating room for a procedure, and outlined its mission and future plans.

(Original HEADstrong logo drawn on a napkin by our founder, Nick)

After doctors told Nick that there was nothing they could do to prolong his life, he told his parents his final wishes. On their drive home after receiving the news Nick said to his mom, ‘I want to talk about three things, and I never want to talk about them again.’” First, he wanted to be cremated and buried. Second, he wanted a memorial scholarship at Ridley High School and at Hofstra University. And finally, Nicholas said, “Mom, I need you to take the Foundation to where it needs to go. “Don’t question anything,” he told her. “The lacrosse family is my brotherhood. They won’t turn their backs on you.” On November 28, 2006, Nick passed away in his father’s arms.

Nick’s House

By helping families and patients who have been affected by cancer, Nick’s legacy will live on forever. Nick’s House is a family home located on the outskirts of Philadelphia, and this home provides complimentary housing patients and families seeking cancer treatment in the Philadelphia area. Since our founding, Nick’s House has provided more than 2,500 complimentary nights of housing for families annually. Nick’s House provides a sense of normalcy for families who have been displaced seeking long-term cancer treatments.

His Last Wish

Nick’s last wish was that others would benefit from his life. At HEADstrong Foundation, it is our mission to improve lives affected by cancer by keeping families together. We do this by offering financial, residential and emotional support to families across the country. We are as relentless in helping others as our founder Nick was. Click here to join the fight.