THE ITHACAN

Accuracy • Independence • Integrity
The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

The Student News Site of Ithaca College

THE ITHACAN

Support Us
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Support Us
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Bombers come together to support lacrosse community cause

The+Ithaca+College+mens+lacrosse+team+has+decided+to+support+the+HEADstrong+Foundation+this+season+by+shaving+their+heads+to+raise+money+for+families+dealing+with+cancer.+Thus+far%2C+40+of+48+players+have+shaved+their+head+to+raise+%2440%2C000.
Makai Yllanes
The Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team has decided to support the HEADstrong Foundation this season by shaving their heads to raise money for families dealing with cancer. Thus far, 40 of 48 players have shaved their head to raise $40,000.

The Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team has not only been working on their stick skills and conditioning this season, but they have come together to raise money for a cause close to the lacrosse community. 

The team has been supporting the HEADstrong fund to raise money for cancer by shaving their heads. All proceeds go to the world’s number two pediatric hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital.

The HEADstrong foundation was created in 2006 by Hofstra men’s lacrosse player Nick Colleluori, who was diagnosed with cancer as a first-year student and passed away. During his treatment, Colleluori decided to start working with his brothers and parents in raising awareness and collecting funds for research on different types of cancer. After he passed away, his idea morphed into the huge nationwide charity that is ingrained in lacrosse culture today.

It’s a small world because the Bombers have their own personal connection to the foundation — assistant coach Torin Varn is a Hofstra men’s lacrosse alum from the class of 2014 who still keeps in touch with the Colleluori family.  

“Nick Colleluori was looked at as a guy that everybody wanted to be like; he was the hardest worker, he was everybody’s best friend and he was arguably one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever heard of, ” Varn said. “The family has done a good job using this foundation to honor his legacy and he’s never forgotten through that.” 

The foundation’s big focus is on college and high school student-athletes, partnering with different teams to raise funds for the foundation. One program they use the money for is “Nick’s houses.” Nick’s houses are homes primarily located in Philadelphia, with one recently opening in Boston in November 2023. They are houses owned by the foundation where families, when loved ones are getting treated in cities with access to better cancer treatments, can go and stay for as long as they need. 

This year, the Bombers plan on raising $30,000 for the Hope Street Foundation, which is then donating the funds to HEADstrong. The Hope Street Foundation is another non-profit organization that was started by three former Brown University lacrosse players. It raises money to fight insidious diseases and is partnering with HEADstrong for the 2024 Lacrosse for Life Head Shaving Event.  For each head that is shaved, $1,000 donated to the cause. 

The Bombers’ fundraising plans were organized by first-year midfielder Aidan Friedman, who has close ties to the foundation.

“It’s more than lacrosse,” Friedman said. “Being able to give back as a group, rallying behind this, especially with how close this foundation is to my heart.”

Growing up in the Philadelphia area, Friedman was very close to the foundation, as the Colleluori family lived close by. Friedman has been an intern for the HEADstrong foundation for a year and plans a lacrosse league that raises money for the foundation every summer called the Nick Colleluori Summer Lacrosse League, which Friedman not only runs, but also plays in. It welcomes all college lacrosse players in the Philadelphia area.

Friedman said he is also familiar with the Hope Street Foundation, which every year promises one million dollars to a cancer foundation. This year, the foundation that will be supported is HEADstrong. Each year HEADstrong puts together a campaign for college lacrosse players to shave their head and Friedman said he brought this up to some seniors on the Bombers’ team, who were all very interested in participating. 

Every November, the Bombers participate in a month of Mustache Madness, where they grow their mustaches out in support of cancer awareness. This year, Friedman organized the other defensive midfielders on the team to shave their heads. 

For every Bombers’ head shaved, Hope Street will donate $1,000 to the HEADstrong foundation. So far, 40 of 48 Bombers players have shaved their head, resulting in $40,000 for the HEADstrong foundation.

Friedman said this is a cause the team would like to continue supporting in the future. 

“If it is successful this year and we get good feedback, I think it’s something we have to do in the future,” Friedman said.  

Junior midfielder Michael Gillam, who is one of the eight players who has shaved his head, said cancer is something that hits very close to home.

“My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2013,” Gillam said. “This was not an easy time for my family, but I remember the unconditional love and support my family received during this time.” 

Thankfully, Gillam’s mother became cancer-free in January of 2014. He said that now being able to help other families who are experiencing the same hardships as him and his family is a dream come true.  

Head coach Tommy Pearce, along with Varn, said the team chemistry that the players share and their qualities and love for the game have driven them to do great things. 

“They are all best friends, they all know each other, they all care about each other,” Varn said. “I think that really stands out for our team and their team chemistry.” 

Pearce also said involvement in the cause demonstrates the qualities of the team.

“They’re self-driven, they have a lot of initiative and the fact that they want to do something this great on their own is awesome,” Pearce said. 

Senior long stick midfielder Hunter Wallace, who has also shaved his head, said that supporting this cause has also brought the unit closer together and has given them something to work on as a team. 

“This definitely helps the team come together as it helps us work to achieve a fundraising goal,” Wallace said.  “While raising money, we not only gain support for HEADstrong but for the Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team as well. It definitely gives my teammates and me a sense of pride in supporting HEADstrong. While we have made strides to raise as much money as we can, we continually show our support in fundraising for HEADstrong.”

Senior midfielder Kyle Savery said he believes the fundraising not only is good for others, but it takes the team’s chemistry to another level.

“When a group of people band together with a shared goal, there is a lot of teamwork and communication involved to facilitate this collaborative effort,” Savery said. “This creates a great sense of community in the locker room that definitely shows out on the field.”

Friedman said the team’s HEADstrong foundation and what they are doing is more than the sport itself.

“You know, the game gives us all a different thing,” Friedman said. “I think being able to come together as a group, you know, it’s more than lacrosse. Find out [and] educate yourself, there are other ways to help out without shaving your head, they are nationwide and they are both very good foundations, HEADstrong and Hope Street.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to THE ITHACAN
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Makai Yllanes, Assistant Video Editor
Donate to THE ITHACAN
$1375
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Ithacan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *