By Thomas Livingston | 7/30/14 1:30 PM
The ability to change lives accompanies the privilege of professional athletes. Whether volunteering with youth organizations, visiting hospitals, or just talking with adoring fans, athletes can brighten, inspire and enrich the lives of those around them. In honor of this spirit, the MLL teamed up with the HEADstrong Foundation the past few seasons and officially partnered with the organization this year, to promote the impact of HEADstrong’s efforts with cancer patients, survivors and their families.
The MLL is celebrating “Burn Cancer” week July 31st – August 2nd to promote the HEADstrong Foundation’s message and raise awareness for their fight against blood cancer. Joel White, the 2014 HEADstrong Player Spokesman, is the face of the organization within the MLL this summer.
“It was humbling to be asked by the Colleluori family to be the Spokesman for the Year,” said White, “It was a no brainer to be a part of the HEADstrong family and do everything that I possibly could.”
Fans will notice this week players sporting lime green apparel and Warrior Lacrosse equipment; the national awareness color for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the adopted color of the HEADstrong Foundation.
“It’s amazing to see the MLL as a whole league is recognizing the HEADstrong passion. Around the league, we see players wearing something from a wristband, to shoelaces, or gloves,” added White.
“The league has helped spread the word, and it’s near and dear to the players hearts. A lot of guys knew Nick [Colleluori] or played with Nick, and are a part of the HEADstrong movement.”
Nicholas “HEAD” Colleluori was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was 19 years old. During his illness, Nick recognized a need to raise cancer awareness and to share the reality of cancer. With dignity and grace, he relentlessly battled the disease for 14 months, until his passing in 2006.
Carrying forth Nick’s legacy are the many friends, supporters, athletes, individuals, and companies who continue to dedicate themselves to helping others who have been affected by blood cancers.
That is the HEADstrong Foundation motto for the fight against all forms of blood cancer and how Joel White summarizes the organization’s efforts.
The Rochester Rattlers defenseman’s style of play emulates the never-give-up HEADstrong attitude. A groundball machine, White has become a stalwart of the Rochester defense and instrumental to the Rattlers’ up-tempo transitional play.
White has championed the HEADstrong movement this season and encourages everyone to do their part to raise awareness.
“I’m a strong believer in every little bit helps. Whether it is wearing a HEADstrong wristband or playing with HEADstrong shoelaces- some guys even use the shoelaces for their gloves or shooting strings. Everything that you can do is good.”
“Anytime you can spread the word in or outside the lacrosse community goes a long way.”
White sees the power of the MLL movement due to the personal element and commitment from the players.
“That's the special thing about the MLL, the fact that the guys are right there interacting with fans and kids, it goes a long way. I think there is an excitement around the MLL.”
Week-in-and–week-out you can see both the home and away team’s players signing autographs, taking pictures, and talking with fans of all ages.
“The fans make this game and it’s our job to recognize that and give back any way we can.”
The HEADstrong movement will benefit from the exposure and commitment from White and his MLL peers during “Burn Cancer” week.
Moving forward, White is focused on bringing a championship to Rochester this season and continuing to raise awareness for the fight against blood cancer and the HEADstrong message. He will play inspired by Nick Colleluori and the HEADstrong family: Relentless.
For more information on the HEADstrong Foundation and to find out how you can join the fight, go to http://headstrong.org/. Be sure to join in on the social conversation to show your support using #BurnCancer.