By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/6/13
It was 18 years ago today that Binghamton’s Garrett Augustyn lost his older brother, Michael, to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
So when the Bearcats’ starting senior defenseman met Nick’s mother, Cheryl, and his brother, Michael, Saturday as his team played at the 7th Annual Nick Colleluori Classic at Ridley High, it was indeed an emotional experience.
“Michael was diagnosed with the same form of Lymphoma that Nick had, when he was 9. He got over it and relapsed when he was 10,” said Augustyn. “I was only 4 at the time (of his death), but it left a huge impact on my family.
“It’s amazing how things work like this. I had heard of HEADstrong, but I didn’t research it until I knew we were coming here. Then I got to talk to Nick’s mom and his brother, Michael.”
Ironically, Binghamton’s first game Saturday was against none other than Hofstra, where Nick Colleluori went to play lacrosse before being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Nick passed away in 2006 and since then the HEADstrong Foundation that he created has raised almost $4 million for cancer research and development.
“A couple days ago I asked our coach and team if we could wear the (HEADstrong) t-shirts in memory of Nick and in memory of Michael,” said Augustyn, who lives in Amherst (outside of Buffalo). “It was a really important weekend for my family.”
Augustyn was named the team’s Nick Colleluori honoree, which signifies the player that best exhibits Nick’s spirit and desire. Cheryl Colleluori spoke of Augustyn’s loss during her annual on-the-field speech.
“It was an incredible experience,” Augustyn said. “I was so excited to hear Cheryl talk. My mom reached out to here when she found out about this (tournament.
“We got a brief moment to talk to Mrs. Colleluori before the game and she shared with me a special story. When she finds a heads-up penny she thinks of HEADstrong and thinks of Nick.
“It’s a sign. The same goes with us! For Michael, when we find a dime, we think of him because he was 10 when he passed. We think that’s a sign, too.”
Now that Augustyn has experienced the Nick Colleluori Classic and it’s impact on people who have been affected by cancer, he wants to become involved in the Foundation.
“It was great that they got to share with us how HEADstrong has reached out to communities, by fund raising,” Augustyn said. “After the tournament I am going to e-mail them about getting involved myself.”