Philadelphia, PA – November 28, 2013 will mark the 7th anniversary of the passing of HF founder Nicholas Colleluori, it will also mark the 7th year that the HEADstrong Foundation™ will prepare and serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to patients and families who are undergoing cancer treatments in the Rhoads Pavilion at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center. Preparing, serving and sharing the feast is just one way that the HEADstrong Foundation™ is improving quality of life for those affected by blood cancers and supporting those working to eliminate the diseases.
Spending the Thanksgiving holiday at Abramson Cancer Center is a reality all too familiar to the Colleluori family. It was here that the family shared their last Thanksgiving with son and brother Nicholas who, in 2006, lost his courageous battle to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just days after Thanksgiving. During the final days of his life, Nicholas asked his family seeing his vision of creating the HEADstrong Foundation™ into fruition and to serve the Thanksgiving feast with patients and families as it was one of his favorite holidays. Since then, the Colleluori family alongside of a dedicated group of volunteers and cancer survivors have prepared and served a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the hospital.
During the day, HEADstrong President and Nick’s mother, Cheryl Colleluori, is accompanied by a group of survivors as they travel the hospital halls to personally visit with every patient, providing encouragement and distributing comfort kits with essentials to improve accommodations. Over the past four weeks HEADstrong has ran a Buy One, Give One promotion for their crew socks, sold at www.shopHEADstrong.com. On Thanksgiving, HEADstrong will also deliver over 200 pair of socks to HUP and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Aside from feeding families on Thanksgiving Day, HEADstrong also provides meals and entertainment to patients and families on a monthly basis through their HEADtable™ program. Dinners, refreshments, movie nights, bingo, and live entertainment are all part of this initiative to improve patient moral, gather families, and improve the patient experience. To date, the organization has served over 6,000 people and there are plans to expand this program into other Philadelphia hospitals beginning in 2014.
“Thanksgiving was our Nick’s favorite’s holiday. Serving and sharing the holiday feast in his name has become a new tradition for our family and organization. It is a privilege to share the holiday with so many people. While an emotional day for us, we find that serving the meal to patients and their families is rewarding and makes it all worthwhile. Spending the holidays in the hospital can be incredibly hard and depressing for patients. As a “family first” organization that exists to improve the quality of life for patients, we embrace the importance of the family support network and the role that it plays on a patient’s moral. Our hope is that patients find strength and inspiration in being around the ones they love and are able to temporarily escape from the realities of being inpatient for treatment. We have walked in the shoes of every patient and family spending the holiday on these floors and we want them to know that they are not alone.” Cheryl Colleluori, HEADstrong President and Nick’s Mom.