Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/19/12
From Press Release
Thursday will mark the sixth year that the HEADstrong Foundation will prepare and serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to several floors of patients and families who are amidst treatment for blood cancer in the Rhodes Pavilion at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Preparing, serving and sharing the feast is just one way that the HEADstrong Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization nationally headquartered on the outskirts of Philadelphia is working to improve the quality of life for patients and families battling blood cancers.
The HEADstrong Foundation is dedicated to assisting patients and families navigate the harrowing ordeal of cancer by sharing their experiences, providing assistance, resources, emotional support and essential services with emphasis placed on sustaining and improving quality of life during the process www.HEADstrongfoundation.org.
Spending the Thanksgiving holiday at Abramson Cancer Center is a reality all too familiar with the Colleluori family, who spearhead the organization. It was here that the family shared their last Thanksgiving with their son, brother and HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori who succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the days following the holiday in 2005.
During the last days of his life, Nicholas asked his family to see his vision of the HEADstrong Foundation into fruition and to help gather loved ones by serving and sharing the traditional meal with patients and families on his favorite holiday.
Annually, the Colleluori family and alongside of a dedicated group of volunteers and blood cancer survivors will prepare and serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal to hundreds of patients, families and medical staff.
In an effort to boost patient moral, promote the family support network and provide a glimpse of normalcy to the families whom are sharing the holiday by the sides of an ailing loved one, HEADstrong Foundation will provide a traditional Thanksgiving dinner from 1:30pm-4pm. Live music and entertainment will also be provided by the organization. During the day HEADstrong President Cheryl Colleluori accompanied by the group of patient advocates travel the floors and personally meet with every patient and their family to listen and provide support.
“Thanksgiving was our Nick’s favorite holiday,” said Cheryl Colleluori, HEADstrong President and Nick’s Mom. “Serving and sharing the holiday feast has become a tradition for our family.
“Through doing this we have met so many wonderful people, many whom which have joined us in our efforts on Thanksgiving day. It is an emotional day for us but working alongside of survivors that we previously served as a patients is one of the most uplifting experiences and something that makes it all worthwhile.
“Spending the holidays in the hospital can be incredibly hard and depressing for patients. As a ‘family first’ organization that exists to improve the quality of life for patients, we embrace the importance of the family support network and the role that it plays on a patients moral.
“Our hope is that patients find strengthen and inspiration in being around the ones they love and are able to temporarily escape from the realities of being inpatient for treatment. We have walked in the shoes of every patient and family spending the holiday on these floors and we want them to know that they are not alone.”