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HEADstrong’s Battle to Swarthmore

Abby Loiselle, '19, Editor

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In April of 2005, during a star freshman la crosse season at Hofstra University, Nick woke up one morning unable to hear out of his left ear. After being examined, Nick was diagnosed with Large-B-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system, a network of
tissues and organs that help to rid the body of toxins. During Nick’s treatment, he realized that he was a lot luckier than many of the other patients who didn’t have the same resources and access to a top ranked treatment facility that he did. From that realization came the idea for the HEADstrong Foundation, a nonprofit that raises awareness and funds for cancer patients and their parents by reaching out to athletes like himself, youth groups, and school districts, to help them “maximize each healthy day they live” After a fourteen month battle, doctors told
Nick there was nothing else they could do.

When he heard this, Nick made his parents promise to keep his foundation going, and that is exactly what his mom, Cheryl Colleluori, has been doing for the last 10 years. Since then, the foundation has raised $100,000,150 and helped 14,220 patients. In doing so, they created Nick’s house, an apartment in Ridley available to families with patients at a local treatment center or
those who are involved in clinical trials. The idea behind this is to reduce the cost each family would otherwise spend on housing or a hotel for up to eight weeks. Recently, Mrs. Colleluori and the foundation found a house they believed to be the perfect fit for a new Nick’s house, one in the heart of Swarthmore. This house, located on 200 South Chester Road, was large enough, had adequate parking space, and even the ability to place an elevator inside. While seemingly a dream come true, the battle for the house was only just beginning. Ac- cording to the zoning rules in Swarthmore, a residential property cannot have more than three unrelated people staying there. This caused a major roadblock in the foundations hopes to open a second residence, but, following the perseverance of their founder, HEADstrong applied to the borough for a special kind of relief from the zoning requirement under the federal Fair Housing Act, explains the main lawyer on the case, Christine Reuther. From there, the foundation had to go through several hearings as part of the borough’s process.

However, some neighbors of the property filed appeals to the council, believing that the new house would cause traffic issues and other problems on their block. This then forced HEADstrong to go through the process again in front of the borough council. The foundation and its lawyers brought forward witnesses, including doctors from CHOP and patients staying at the Nick’s House in Ridley, to explain why this type of housing was important and how patients and their caregivers could support each other when given the opportunity to live together at Nick’s House. The foundation was successful in convincing the council that it was an appropriate case for relief under the Fair Housing Act so that the foundation was granted the ability to house up to seven un- related cancer patients and their caregivers to stay at the house at any one time. “It was a privilege to help support the foundation and work with the many people who are helping to make this second Nick’s House a reality. It is a great use of the house that might have otherwise stood vacant for a long time” says Mrs. Reuther. Since that successful, and also painstakingly long, process, they have begun construction on the house and hope that a new Nick’s House will be up and running by late fall. Thanks to all those who helped volunteer with the organization and the new house, and those who helped run it, Nick’s final wish has become a reality.

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
HEADstrong’s Battle to Swarthmore