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SLUHN Partners with HEADstrong Lacrosse
January 21, 2022

St. Luke’s is teaming up with a national sports organization whose commitment to developing student-athletes and helping people affected by cancer will give the network the opportunity to engage in activities at which it excels: sports medicine, athletic training and caring for cancer patients.

St. Luke’s recently became the exclusive partner with the HEADstrong Lacrosse Club, based in Philadelphia, which has a major chapter in the Lehigh Valley. Through this 10-year agreement, St. Luke’s sports medicine and athletic training staff will conduct strength and safety training for the players and coaches in the HEADstrong Lehigh Valley program. In addition, the youth and teenage athletes will donate time off the field helping area residents who are receiving cancer care through St. Luke’s oncology services.

The HEADstrong Lacrosse Club falls under the umbrella of the HEADstrong Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by cancer. Both entities were established in 2006 by the late Nicholas Colleluori prior to his passing. A standout lacrosse player at Hofstra University when he was diagnosed with cancer, Colleluori wanted to share his love of the game with future generations so they would have the same opportunities he did, along with helping those fighting the disease like he was. Over the past 15 years, the Club has established itself as a preeminent lacrosse organization that has grown nationally and is committed to providing its players with a fun-filled learning experience while empowering student-athletes to support the HEADstrong Foundation in its fight against cancer.

According to John Hauth, St. Luke’s Senior Network Administrator for Sports Medicine Relationships, this unique partnership will work on several levels and have a variety of benefits.

“Together with the HEADStrong organization, St. Luke’s will provide training that enhances the athletes’ lacrosse skills and enjoyment of the sport, while also promoting safety in the sport at the new St. Luke’s Sports Rink, in Whitehall, the area’s largest indoor turf facility,” he says. “We’ll also help raise funds for a good cause, and collect, package and deliver personal hygiene items in ‘Comfort Kits’ to area cancer patients who are receiving care at St. Luke’s. It’s clearly a win-win-win for cancer patients, the lacrosse players and the HEADstrong Foundation.”

Michael Colleluori, vice president of HEADstrong Lacrosse and the HEADstrong Foundation, calls St. Luke’s an ideal partner for this cause because “it’s the leader in healthcare and sports medicine in the Lehigh Valley.”

“Together, we will elevate the lacrosse experience in safety and sports performance for our youth, while making a difference in the lives of cancer patients.” 

The HEADstrong Foundation provides financial, emotional and residential assistance to patients undergoing cancer treatment. Nick's House, established in Swarthmore for cancer patients and families to stay in free-of-charge when receiving treatment at hospitals in Philadelphia. As part of that programming, the Foundation distributes Comfort Kits personal care items to patients undergoing treatment for cancer, which will now include patients at St. Luke's hospitals, delivered by Lehigh Valley club members.

Tom Sinnott, HEADstrong’s director of sports, says lacrosse tournaments, clinics and other events are being planned in the region for the upcoming season starting in January. A portion of registration fees will go to the HEADstrong Foundation, the philanthropic branch of HEADstrong, to fund services and donations to the area’s cancer patients, like the 150 Comfort Kits. 

Sinnott notes that a recent men's collegiate lacrosse event hosted by Lafayette College raised $24,000 to support the Foundation’s mission. “This is a tangible benefit that helps families in the Lehigh Valley while promoting the sport,” Sinnott says.

Mike Bender, general manager, Lehigh Valley HEADstrong Lacrosse chapter, which is based at the St. Luke’s Sports Rink, says the events and activities there “will promote the sport and the mission and vision of the HEADstrong Foundation that has been shared through our lacrosse club in the Lehigh Valley since 2015.” Bender was a standout lacrosse player at Parkland High School and the University of Maryland.

“This partnership with St. Luke's represents a shared commitment with the Foundation to area youth and the sport of lacrosse, on and off the field, and will bolster our growth as a humanitarian resource in our local community.”

For more information on HEADstrong and its upcoming events in the area, visit HEADstrongLax.org.