Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/28/18
From Press Release
As a senior at the University of Virginia, Ken Clausen (The Hill School) never imagined that his creation, Lax Stache Madness, would ever surpass the $1 million fundraising mark. Clausen and company celebrated this feat just last year.
“I still can’t believe it,” Clausen said. “Over the past 10 years the campaign has taken on an amazing life of its own which has allowed us the ability to have a significant impact on behalf of families across the country and I feel we’re just getting started.”
Clausen’s idea was simple: a facial hair growing fundraiser that pairs college lacrosse teams against one another for a cause; over the past decade, Lax Stache Madness has become a fall tradition engaging more than 8,000 athletes since its inception. Last year, 85 college teams participated, but this year Clausen and campaign co-chair Pat Colleluori (HEADstrong CMO and Nick’s Brother) are taking a new approach to empowering more varsity and club teams to join the campaign. “Collectively between the NCAA, MCLA, NCLL and the NJCAA, collegiate men’s lacrosse encompasses more than 717 programs, so while having 85 participate last year was incredible, we’d like to appeal and involve the remaining 632 teams as well as post-collegiate and professional athletes across the landscape this year,” Clausen said.
This year, Clausen and the HEADstrong Foundation have taken some incredible strides to expand the campaign beyond the college game in hopes of raising more than $300,000 for the cause. They empowered St. Mary’s College of Maryland men’s lacrosse head coach Jason Childs, who was diagnosed with colon cancer this past June, to serve as coaching ambassador. Additionally, they have added former Duke standout — and member of the Ohio Machine — Justin Guterding as a professional player ambassador. Additionally, HEADstrong empowered a team of volunteers to send more than 450 personal letters earmarked for the Class of 2019 encouraging their support. The letters were accompanied by special shaving kits which included a razor and shaving cream.
Registration is now open and will continue through the duration of the campaign, but teams are being encouraged to register as early as possible. Lax Stache Madness will officially kick off on Oct. 19 and will conclude on Nov. 28, the anniversary of Nick Colleluori’s untimely passing to non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. The excitement will heat up on Nov. 1, when all registered teams will be seeded to compete in the National Stache-Off Against Cancer, a survive and advance style bracket tournament in which teams go head-to-head against one another.
The National Stache-Off Against Cancer has become one of the hallmarks of the 6-week campaign, as it pairs both teams against each other despite level, division or status.
“Fostering competition through the National Stache-Off Against Cancer is truly one of our favorite aspects of the entire campaign,” Clausen said. “It essentially allows teams from all different sizes, conferences, divisions and segments to compete against one another. Through the campaign we create matchups that would never exist on the field. Teams with the largest incremental gain each week will survive and advance until one is crowned that National Stache-Off Champion and will be presented the inaugural Clausen Cup, a new trophy that will be created for the campaign.
Additionally, some incredible incentives are up for grabs this year. Growers surpassing the $500 mark will receive a limited edition HEADstrong prize pack; those surpassing $1,000 will receive a gift card to HEADstrong’s online store; those surpassing the $2,000 mark will receive a limited edition HEADstrong helmet.
The overall top individual grower will receive three 3-day passes to three summer music festivals for summer 2019: Governors Ball at Randall’s Island, Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands in Dover, Del., and Panorama NYC Music Festival at Randall’s Island.
The backstory of Lax Stache Madness is one that continues to inspire. At just 19 years old, entering his sophomore year, Nicholas “HEAD” Colleluori was terminally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Aggressive and advanced treatment forced him to withdraw from Hofstra University, where he was part of the men’s lacrosse team.
After 14 months of extensive clinical treatment, Nick’s desire for normalcy stemmed into him growing a mustache. Colleluori once said, “I’ve shaved my head my entire life, so being bald is no big deal, but losing my eyebrows was a huge blow to my self image.”
Nick’s mustache was in many ways a silent protest against the cancer he was fighting and a buffer which diverted attention away from his ailing physical condition. But while his mustache was a silent way to fight cancer, his efforts to identify social challenges plaguing the patient population and conceptualize the HEADstrong Foundation from his hospital bed were far from silent. Nick understood that through lacrosse, he was part of something much bigger than himself.
With his own personal experience, the struggles of his family and those around him as a backdrop, Nick assessed that the affordability and accessibility to leading treatments, and the percentages of families devastated by these two unfortunate variables was staggering and severely overshadowed. From his hospital bed, he cultivated the HEADstrong mission with emphasis on serving as a direct support system to families by making assistance, mentorship and lodging available when families needed it most.
“We often say the lessons that Nick learned by being part of a team unknowingly prepared him for the emotional, physical and physiological rollercoaster of having cancer,” Pat Colleluori said. “If anything, the very concept of ‘Team’ kept him focused on a goal of remission and a return to school. In the last days of his life, he wrote a powerful letter to the team which read, ‘You are my pulse and while I may not be with you, as long as you keep beating I’m still alive,’ and we know that we can count on our lacrosse family to get behind Lax Stache Madness.”
The funds raised this year will be essential in funding nights at Nick’s House, a guest family home operated by the HEADstrong Foundation for families financially overwhelmed and pursuing life-saving treatment, which has required them to travel far from their homes.
Athletes and teams can register NOW at www.LaxStacheMadness.com.