An undersized 3 sport athlete noted for his never-give-up mental toughness, determination and aggressiveness, Nick received countless accolades in football, wrestling and lacrosse during his high school years.

He accepted an athletic scholarship to Hofstra University joining their Men’s Lacrosse Program, a childhood dream fulfilled. While at Hofstra, Nick took the field in all 16 games as a freshman, cracking the Pride’s lineup and seeing significant minutes on their man-down unit.

In April 2005, towards the end of his freshman season, Nick had difficulty hearing play calls and his family’s cheers during a game against Delaware. He woke up the following morning unable to hear from his right ear. He was evaluated by an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor who removed inflamed adenoids and biopsies revealed Nicholas was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer affecting the lymphatic system.

Nick shared the news with his team, withdrew from Hofstra and returned home with his family to be treated at The Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania. Though the initial diagnosis was positive, doctors later told the Colleluori’s that Nick should have lived for only three months due to aggressiveness of the cancer. But true to Nick’s relentless attitude, he endured a 14-month battle with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant, along with experimental treatments.

Shortly after being diagnosed, Nicholas recognized a lack of resources for cancer patients and their families. Experiencing firsthand the hardships, from his hospital bed he 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.

After doctors told Nicholas there was nothing they could do to prolong his life, Nicholas made his final wishes to his parents on a ride home from the hospital. He took the car keys out of his father’s hands and said, ‘Dad, you’re too upset to drive. Mom, I want you to drive. Dad, I want you to get in the back seat because there are some things I need to talk to Mom about,’” Cheryl Colleluori recalls. “He held my hand. We were sitting side-by-side. I’m driving home, and Nick says, ‘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.”

Moments before Nick took his last breath, he asked his family to promise him that others following in his footsteps would benefit from his life. Today, the Colleluori family, the HEADstrong staff and volunteers are carrying out his vision raising millions of dollars and supporting thousands of patients nationwide.

Nicholas passed away on November 28, 2006, in his father’s arms. His legacy will live on forever.

“Make use of the time you have and don’t stress the little things. Have a smile and enjoy what you can get out of life.” – Nick Colleluori

Nick’s Vision

Little Logo for Border

Nick’s short and long term vision


To tell my story and help others deal with cancer by expressing my opinions, experiences, and emotions.

Target local youth groups and school districts to speak out and empower them to maximize each healthy day they live.

Raise money for cancer research, cancer awareness, and the cure.

Emphasize the reality that is cancer.

Short Term

Get rid of the cancer, successful transplant, training, go to as many Hofstra games as possible. (Personal)

Return to school, train for lacrosse, become normal (original weight, stamina, endurance, strength, etc.) (Personal)

Raise money to cover medical expenses and to start the foundation.

Long Term

Start a scholarship program for student athletes in the Delaware Valley Area fighting cancer.

HEADstrong becomes a national foundation affiliated with National Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and American Cancer Society.

Motivational speaking program for cancer patients.

The Colleluori’s last dinner with Nick

Nick’s last game he ever played in

Nick’s sketch of our original logo on a napkin

Nick Day 1 after his stem cell transplant