Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/29/19 From Press Release
HEADstrong founder Nicholas Colleluori will be inducted posthumously to the US Lacrosse Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter Hall of Fame on Saturday, Feb. 9 at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club.
The induction celebration will include a cocktail hour beginning at 3:30 p.m., followed by the Class of 2019 induction ceremony at 4:45 p.m.; after Colleluori and his 10 fellow classmates are inducted, a buffet dinner will be available starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $95 per person. Tickets can be purchased here. Please RSVP by Feb. 1. In the event of inclement weather, the induction will be made up on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.
“On behalf of the Colleluori family, we wish to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the selection committee for their induction of our Nicholas into the US Lacrosse Eastern Pennsylvania Hall of Fame,” said Cheryl Colleluori, HEADstrong President and Nick’s mom.
“As parents, we were so privileged to watch our son find success on the athletic field but were never more proud to witness his courage, tenacity and relentless spirit during his fight against cancer. And we attribute so much of who our Nick was, and more importantly who he became, through the lessons, relationships and influence that lacrosse provided to him.
“It was his lacrosse family that held both he and our family up during the darkest days of our lives, and one of the last things that my son said to me was, ‘Lacrosse Mom! Our lacrosse family will never let us down. They will carry this torch in my absence so others may benefit from my life and what we went through.’ It’s hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since his untimely passing and since then we have had the privilege of seeing his vision into fruition. As a family, we are truly looking forward to accepting this honor in his name. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Before Colleluori became a philanthropic pioneer, he was best known as a dominant lacrosse player, first at Ridley High School and then as a Division-I scholarship recipient at Hofstra University, with the latter accomplishment fulfilling a lifelong dream. Colleluori also starred on the football field and wrestling mat at Ridley, becoming known as an undersized but fierce competitor who was renowned for his mental toughness, determination and aggressiveness.
During his freshman season at Hofstra, Colleluori took the field in every one of the team’s 16 games, cracking the Pride’s lineup and seeing significant minutes on their man-down unit.
Then, in April 2005, towards the end of his freshman season, Colleluori had difficulty hearing play calls and his family’s cheers during a game against Delaware. He woke up the following morning unable to hear from his right ear. Colleluori was evaluated by an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, who removed inflamed adenoids; subsequent biopsies revealed Diffused Large B-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer affecting the lymphatic system.
Colleluori shared the news with his team, withdrew from Hofstra and returned home to be treated at The Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania. Though the initial diagnosis was positive, doctors later told the Colleluori’s that Nick should have lived for only three months due to aggressiveness of the cancer. But true to his relentless attitude, Colleluori endured a 14-month battle, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant, along with experimental treatments.
Colleluori recognized a lack of resources for cancer patients and their families. Experiencing firsthand these hardships, he created the HEADstrong Foundation from his hospital bed in order to raise awareness and funds to improve lives affected by the disease, while also focusing on empowering student-athletes to support his mission. He drew the organization’s logo moments before entering the operating room for a procedure, and outlined its mission and future plans.
In the last days of his life, Colleluori composed a powerful letter to his college teammates which read, “You are my pulse and while I may not be there with you; as long as you keep beating, I am still alive.”
Colleluori strongly believed in the lacrosse brotherhood; in fact, it was this fraternal community that inspired him to create the organization. He solidified his legacy in the game of lacrosse through the creation of the HEADstrong Lacrosse Club. Today, Colleluori’s message of hope is championed by thousands of lacrosse players around the world. There are more than 425 NCAA men’s and women’s lacrosse programs actively involved with raising funds and awareness for HEADstrong, which is annually involved with more than 100 collegiate men’s and women’s lacrosse events at the Division-I, II, and III levels.
“The impact Nick has made on lacrosse is incredible, in Philadelphia and across the country,” Tony Resch, La Salle College High School assistant lacrosse coach and Eastern PA Hall of Fame Member, said in his nomination recommendation of Colleuori. “Working closely with his amazing family, being educated about Nick, his vision and the foundation established in his honor, I know what Nick stood for, what he was about. I can’t think of a person and player who I admire and respect more.”
Added Michael French, part owner of the New England Black Wolves lacrosse team who also sits on the HEADstrong Board of Directors, in his own nomination of Colleluori: “I view Nicholas Colleluori as the ultimate teammate. It’s hard to imagine any other lacrosse players dedicated to this great game that have made a greater impact in the name of the sport than Nick. His legacy and the efforts of his family and other selfless volunteers has created a lifeline for so many that have been inflicted by this disease and just need comfort and help.”
To learn more about the HEADstrong Foundation mission or to donate to its cause, visit www.headstrong.org.