The HEADstrong Foundation, popular for their efforts to raise awareness about blood cancer with their bright green ‘Relentless’ apparel, will plant another seed in Utah with the addition of the HEADstrong Lacrosse Utah program.
Led by Mark Dempsey, the program is an independent, non-profit 501(c)3 lacrosse club that functions as an unaffiliated licensee of the HEADstrong Foundation. In essence a franchise team of the foundation. The mission of the team goes far beyond player development and first class lacrosse. The emphasis is on the experience of also being active in the community in participating in local cancer awareness activities and bringing a greater awareness of cancer within the lacrosse community.
Dempsey has had the vision of starting a HEADstrong team in Utah for a few years and has personally felt the impact of cancer in his life. His grandfather died when he was very young and he did not know him. Throughout his life he had always heard about what an amazing man his grandfather was. His illness was identified as a rare blood disease. In talks with his mom, Mark learned that his grandfather’s symptoms were very similar to Nick Colleluori’s, who founded HEADstrong, symptoms. Dempsey felt a connection to the HEADstrong Foundation. This connection intensified when in December, Dempsey’s mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He spent the last couple of months of her life experiencing the terrible impact of cancer. He felt a stronger desire to be involved in helping to increase cancer awareness.
“Utah is a great location for HEADstrong Lacrosse with the rapid growth of the sport and being home to the Huntsman Cancer Institute,” said Dempsey. “There is a strong sense of community service here as well.”
The HEADstrong program is led by coaches Dave Brattin, Dave Allen, Matt Evans, Julian Barnes, Justin Anthony, Justin Tilley, Dempsey, Travis Schoenfield and Dr. Trevor Williams who will serve as the speed, agility and strength coach. The program also has a board of directors to help run the program.
“The coaches and board members all have a strong united desire to establish a first class lacrosse organization that teaches the players the importance of being positive role models, sharing life lessons and making a difference within the community through lacrosse,” said Dempsey.
HEADstrong will field U-13, U-15 and U-18 teams and will compete in tournaments within the region and nationally. The 2012-2013 Tournament schedule includes 3d Lacrosse Tournament (Denver), Best of the West Tournament (Las Vegas), Denver Shootout (Denver), Warrior Vail Tournament (Vail, CO) and the Long Island Classic (Hempstead, NY). Other tournaments are in consideration as well. HEADstrong Lacrosse Utah is also planning to host their own tournament with proceeds benefiting the HEADstrong Foundation.
In addition to playing, HEADstrong will also participate in service projects throughout the community. One of the events will be to participate in the Lymphoma society’s Light the Night Walk. All players will also participate in the HEADstrong Foundation’s Score for a Cure program.