Winter Garden, FL- Three years ago Gary Bitz Jr., a young lacrosse player from Winter Garden, FL attended NCAA Championship Weekend in Baltimore, Maryland with his father. While visiting the fan fest at the Inner Harbor, Gary had the chance to learn about the HEADstrong Foundation and meet the Colleluori family. And while other kids his age were focused on checking out the latest gear and promotional items in the fan fest, Gary Bitz Jr. inspired by what he had just learned about the HEADstrong Foundation began brainstorming an event idea with the purpose of generating funds to support the organization.
On the flight home to Orlando, Gary began to sketch an event in which he and his friends would play lacrosse in his backyard for 24 consecutive hours. He would ask friends, family, neighbors and his local community to support him with pledges. And so, the Gary Bitz Jr. 24-Hour Lax-A-Thon was born.
Now in its 3rd year, the event has become an annual tradition and with more interest from participants, sponsors and special guests attending, this year’s event promises to be event the best yet. In 2011, over 45 players participated and this year the Bitz family has invited lacrosse players from all over to be apart of the event. A fundraising page has been created to support donations for the effort. Supporters can contribute securely online through the HEADstrong Foundation’s online giving portal powered by First Giving. Support Gary at: https://www.firstgiving.com/headstrongfoundation/gary-bitz-24-hour-lax-a-thon.
This year, participants will be play for 27 consecutive hours, recognizing the number 27 worn by HEADstrong Founder Nicholas Colleluori. Rules of the event require participants to play, pass or cradle consistency for 27 straight hours.
Date: August 25–26, 2012
Time: 11AM (on the 25th) to 1PM (on the 26th)
If you are interested in participating in the event please contact Gary at Garybitzlaxathon@gmail.com, for more details.
Event sponsors such as Rosen Shingle Creek, Warrior, Brine, Presentation Services Audio Visual are all working together to support this amazing fundraiser. The Roth Financial Group as well as Rollis Construction & Renovation, LLC have been tremendous supporters over the past two years.
Over $13,000 in monetary donations has been generated since the creation of the event and now other youth lacrosse programs inspired by Gary’s event are following suit starting their own Lax-A-Thon to support the lacrosse rooted non-profit organization HEADstrong Foundation.
“We look forward to hosting this event each year. It means the world to me to have people come out to support and be apart of the event. Knowing all of us lacrosse kids are doing a good thing is very rewarding and to be able to present donations to the HEADstrong Foundation knowing how much it is appreciated is even more rewarding.” Gary Bitz Jr., Event Founder
“On behalf of the HEADstrong Foundation and the Colleluori family we wish to personal thank Gary Bitz Jr. and his family for their relentless support in hosting this amazing event. The Gary Bitz 24-Hour Lax-A-Thon is a constant reminder of the impact that our youth can make in the community. This event raises the bar with regards to individuals fundraising for HEADstrong Foundation and our hope is that others find inspiration in Gary’s efforts and realize that they too can make a significant contribution through the game of lacrosse. We applaud and are so graciously humbled by young Gary’s creativity and enthusiasm.” 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.