Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/7/19
Courtesy of Ed Morrone, of the HEADstrong Foundation
HEADstrong has so many supporters around the country — and now even the globe following its Game Hair Havoc social media campaign that went viral — that sometimes the efforts of its locally-grown fundraisers can become lost in the shuffle.
At the end of the day, HEADstrong is a community organization with deep roots in Delaware County, where the Colleluori Family, who started and runs the foundation, hails from. Local support is critical for HEADstrong, a local foundation that will remain as such, no matter how widely its mission expands.
It’s with that being said that HEADstrong wants to highlight the fundraising efforts of two Delaware County-based high school student-athletes: Seamus McCloskey of The Haverford School and Ryan Matsinger of Penncrest High School. In addition to being a local foundation, HEADstrong also has deep roots in the lacrosse community, and McCloskey and Matsinger count themselves as members of that club.
And so, the duo have embarked on separate but unified fundraising endeavors as the high school lacrosse season recently got underway.
McCloskey is participating in the 2019 Go Lime for Cancer Challenge, pledging his ground ball statistics on the field to HEADstrong. His goal is to get to 100 ground balls, with an overall monetary figure of $3,000. McCloskey said he first heard of the foundation when he was in seventh grade, when his township lacrosse coach gave the team a lesson on the lime green shoelaces that outfitted their cleats.
“He told us they were in honor of Nick Colleluori,” McCloskey said, referring to the late HEADstrong founder. “What I like about the foundation is they strive to support all people affected by cancer — not just the patient, but they look out for the families who are also affected. They understand the process these families have to go through.”
McCloskey is dead on in his assessment that a cancer diagnosis has a ripple effect throughout an entire family, not just the person fighting the disease. It was for this reason that he wanted to get involved in the HEADstrong mission, even if he has yet to personally meet many affected by the disease.
“To be honest, I’ve known very few,” McCloskey said. “But I hate hearing about people affected by cancer. I know it’s a hard process, and one that doesn’t leave right away. When my coach (Brendan Dawson) told us about the opportunity to do a campaign like this, I told him I was interested, and he told me ‘You were the first person I thought of.’”
For Matsinger, whose father, Wayne, is the head coach at Penncrest, his journey was entirely more personal. Unlike McCloskey, Matsinger knows family members who have been diagnosed with cancer, including his grandmother and aunt.
Additionally, his family is close with Brian Radcliffe, whose 3-year-old daughter, Charlotte, died from the disease in April 2017 (HEADstrong has partnered with the Radcliffes to host the inaugural Charlotte Grace 5K/1-mile Run on April 6 — more information on that event can be found HERE).
“The decision to do this challenge was an easy one to make,” Matsinger said. “Helping out families going through tough times by doing the thing I love most is huge. It’s going to make me push myself to achieve my goal.”
Matsinger is participating in the 2019 Faceoff Against Cancer Challenge, hoping to collect as many faceoff wins as possible (the target goal he set for himself was 200); in both Matsinger and McCloskey’s campaigns, interested donors can make a one-time flat donation, or pledge a donation for every faceoff or groundball the duo records.
Both McCloskey and Matsinger say the early responses to their fundraising endeavors have been positive, with school and community members encouraging the efforts, while teammates have made efforts to share the campaigns on social media or by word-of-mouth. And despite the fact that the two lacrosse players attend different Delaware County high schools, they are unified in fighting for the same cause.
Both stressed other players to get involved if they are able, as it has already taught both McCloskey and Matsinger great life lessons in sacrificing a part of themselves for the good of others.
“I think it’s important, and a great opportunity to give back to the community and make a difference in someone’s life,” McCloskey said. “What I’ve learned from this process is it’s the little things you do can lead to greater outcomes in the future. For me, I hope that means I am able to help someone affected by cancer.”
“I love the fact that HEADstrong has a house for people who come from all over the country to Philadelphia for world class cancer treatment,” he said. “From the early stages of this campaign, I’ve learned you need to be dedicated to whatever it is you are doing. It’s going toward such a great cause, so much so that I want to do everything I can to help some of these families who have come here from near and far.”