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Holmes, PA – Annually, the HEADstrong Foundation recognizes a collegiate lacrosse player taking their career to the professional level that demonstrates exemplary leadership and is committed to servicing the community and using their professional stature to promote the cause.
The HEADstrong Foundation is proud to introduce CJ Costabile as their 2013 Player Spokesman. Costabile will become a member their honorary Team of Champions and will join the HEADstrong Foundation’s efforts in facing-off against blood cancer.
CJ will continue his athletic career as he joins the Long Island Lizards this summer. Costabile joins a select group of athletes who have previously held this honor including: Paul Rabil, Ken Clausen and Bill McGlone.
Recently, the three-time All-American CJ Costabile of Duke University was selected as the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award winner in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse for outstanding academics and dedication to serving the community.
Costabile has a tie to blood cancer which makes his new role with the HEADstrong Foundation all the more significant. Costabile recently befriended a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma who was diagnosed in 1995.
Costabile is an All-Atlantic Coast Conference academic team selection and conference honor roll member. In the community, Costabile and his teammates make dinner for families at a local Ronald McDonald houses once a month. He also volunteers at Duke Children’s Hospital.
“The Headstrong Foundation is known throughout the lacrosse community for their extraordinary work in the fight against blood cancer. I truly believe in what the organization is doing and stands for. That is why it is an honor and privilege to be named Headstrong Foundation’s 2013 spokesman.” – CJ Costabile
“We are honored to introduce CJ Costabile as the newest member to our Team of Champions. He embodies the all of the characteristics that the HEADstrong Foundation stands for. He is a towering figure in the sport and is a great role model for our youth. He honestly reminds me a lot of my son Nick. We wish to congratulate CJ on this accomplishment and welcome him into the HEADstrong family.” - Cheryl Colleluori, HEADstrong President and Nick’s Mom
About the HEADstrong Foundation:
HEADstrong Foundation works to advocate, raise funds for and to support those affected by blood cancer or working to eliminate it. HEADstrong Foundation generates funds for blood cancer research, distributes grants and provides assistance to patients and survivors of blood cancer. In addition, HEADstrong Foundation awards scholarships and grants for students with ambitions of entering the medical field. Founder Nick “Head” Colleluori” attended Hofstra University where he played lacrosse. While at Hofstra Nick was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. While sick he began counseling other patients and began laying the framework for what would become the HEADstrong Foundation, in an effort to raise cancer awareness and help others and future patients that found themselves in a similar situation. In August of 2006 he even found the strength to play in one last lacrosse game. Nick passed away on November 28, 2006 at the age of 21. Even though he is gone, his memory and relentless determination lives on through the HEADstrong Foundation.
Born October 19, 1985 to Cheryl and Pat, Nicholas “Head” Colleluori was the third of four brothers raised in Holmes, Pa., a blue-collar neighborhood in suburban Philadelphia. A 2004 graduate of Ridley High School, where he earned 12 varsity letters as a three-sport star, Nicholas played collegiate lacrosse at Hofstra University. An undersized athlete noted for his never-give-up mental toughness, determination and aggressiveness, Nicholas played nose guard at 185 pounds and was a technician on the wrestling mat in his school. At Hofstra, Nicholas took the field in all 16 games as a freshman, cracking the Pride’s lineup and seeing significant minutes on their man-down unit.
In April 2005, toward the end of his freshman season, Nicholas had difficulty hearing play calls and his family’s cheers during a game against Delaware, and he woke up the following morning unable to hear from his right ear. After having his inflamed adenoids removed, a series of tests revealed Nicholas had large B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer affecting the lymphatic system. Nicholas withdrew from Hofstra and returned home with his family to be treated at The Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania. Though the initial diagnosis was positive, doctors later told the Colleluori’s that Nicholas should have lived for only three months due to aggressiveness of the cancer. But true to Nicholas’ relentless attitude, he endured a 14-month battle with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant, along with experimental treatments.
Nicholas passed away November 28, 2006, but his legacy will live forever. Shortly after being diagnosed, Nicholas created the HEADstrong Foundation to raise awareness for blood cancer and help others afflicted by the disease. He drew the organization’s logo moments before entering the operating room for a procedure, and outlined its mission and future through various computer documents. After doctors told Nicholas there was nothing they could do to prolong his fight, Nicholas made his final wishes to his parents on a ride home from the hospital. He took the car keys out of his father’s hands and said, ‘Dad, you’re too upset to drive. Mom, I want you drive. Dad, I want you to get in the back seat because there are some things I need to talk to Mom about,’” Cheryl Colleluori recalls. “He held my hand. We were sitting side-by-side. I’m driving home, and Nick says, ‘I want to talk about three things, and I never want to talk about them again.’” First, he wanted to be cremated and buried. Second, he wanted a memorial scholarship at Ridley High School and at Hofstra University. And finally, Nicholas said, “Mom, I need you to take the Foundation to where it needs to go. “Don’t question anything,” he told her. “[The lacrosse family] is my brotherhood. They won’t turn their backs on you.”
Nicholas provided the HEADstrong blueprint, and the Colleluori family is committed to carrying out his vision. As the Colleluori’s like to say, “Nick’s got his foot on the Foundation’s gas pedal, and we are doing our best to steer this thing.” Since 2006, the HEADstrong Foundation has raised more than $2 million to help find a cure for the disease that took Nicholas’ life. Just like Nicholas, they’re relentless in their efforts.