Katherine Frega's fighting spirit is already well-known in Westfield but now others are learning of the blood cancer survivor's resilience and drive to make a difference, according to Top Lax Recruits.com.
The Syracuse freshman, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma during her junior year at Westfield High School, is the winner of the Nicholas E. Colleluori Award, which is given each year to an individual who has beaten blood cancer and become a role model to others in the name of the former Hofstra University student-athlete who succumbed to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to the report.
After Frega, a field hockey and lacrosse player, was diagnosed she turned to the HEADstrong Foundation, founded by Colleluori. The Foundation's mission is "advocating, fundraising and supporting those affected by blood cancer and those working towards eliminating it." Frega began writing “Stories of Hope” on the website.
In January of 2011, Frega worked tirelessly to educate others in the Westfield community and beyond about teen cancer after Gov. Chris Christie proclaimed a Teen Cancer Awareness Week in New Jersey. Meeting with high school health teachers and administrators, Frega developed a program where she spoke to high school health classes throughout the week about teen cancer.
Frega’s illness has also caused her to change her professional goals. While she had been thinking of going to college to become a nutritionist, her bout with cancer has led her to pursue a career in medicine.
Today, the 20 year old, who said she appreciates every day, is playing lacrosse for the Syracuse club team and achieved a 4.0 GPA in her first semester as a biochemistry major.
According to Top Lax Recruiters.com, Frega said she was honored to have this award and called Colleluori, "an incredible human being."
“His whole life – not just how he handled cancer – is inspiring to me. The way he played … I never had the chance to meet him in person, but what his parents and family have done in his memory indicates what an incredible person he is," she said in the report. “I am so honored to have this award in his name.”
*This story contains previously-published reporting by John Celock.