By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/30/09
It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that Michael Colleluori has decided to go into medicine and become an oncologist.
After all, the recent Hofstra graduate who hails from Ridley High has devoted much of his college life to bettering a nationally-renowned cause with the HEADstrong Foundation to fight blood cancer. Now, Colleluori is preparing to begin a job as a researcher for an oncologist in Lymphoma at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
The position also may pay for Colleluori to take enough classes to complete a pre-health degree and allow him to have all the necessary courses to go to medical school. If anyone has earned the right to shoot for medical school, it’s Colleluori.
Not many college students have taken on the responsibilities or won as many honors as Colleluori. The HEADstrong Foundation was developed in the name of Colleluori’s brother, Nick “HEAD” Colleluori, who died in November of 2006 from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Colleluori serves as the Vice President of the HEADstrong Foundation, which has raised $750,000 in less than three years and has created the nation’s biggest Fall Ball Tournament, the Annual Nick Colleluori Classic.
Colleluori also is the President of Lean on Me, a support group focused on young adults who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. He even has time to volunteer as a youth lacrosse coach.
In 2009, Colleluori was a mainstay for the Hofstra lacrosse team, collecting 14 goals and 22 assists while earning first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) honors at midfield for an 11-4 team that went to the NCAA Division I playoffs. More impressive is that Colleluori was named an Honorable Mention All-American and an Academic All-American by the USILA.
Beyond those honors, Colleluori was a finalist for the prestigious Lowe’s Senior CLASS award, based on academics, character, community service and athletic performance. He didn’t win, but Colleluori has more important things to conquer now – like becoming a doctor and continuing the fight his brother first made while valiantly battling a terrible disease.
“I did an internship last year at Penn and when I graduated, my mom said, ‘Why don’t you see if there is an opening at the hospital where Nick was treated?’” said Colleluori, whose major was community health. “That internship opened up the door for other stuff and now I’ll be working on a research team.”
What area of medicine does Colleluori want to pursue?
“From HEADstrong, I know a lot of doctors,” he said. “Once you start doing rotations, you start to change what you like. I am open minded, I like a bunch of stuff.
“Obviously, I have a lot of experience on the oncology side right now. That’s where I am leaning toward, but who knows what will happen eight years from now?”
Colleluori will continue his role in the HEADstrong Foundation with his parents, Cheryl and Pat, and brother Pat. The Foundation continues to grow, whether it be with increased sales of the lime green laces and equipment or more interest in the Classic – which this year will feature a new women’s tourney and an expanded men’s tourney (two days).
“I was at Ridley recently and 75 percent of the kids had either a (HEADstrong) shirt or a stick or a mesh kit. It’s all good,” he said. “We are non-profit and it’s great to be able to help out and we honor Nick every day with what we do.
“I see people’s reactions when we help them. So many people are suffering from diseases and it’s very rewarding to us to contribute. We’re keeping Nick’s legacy alive and we’re making a difference.”