Teammates rally to help Elon soccer star facing cancer
Nicole "Colie" Dennion, the Southern Conference's Player of the Year in women's soccer, is battling a bone cancer that inspired teammates and friends to organize a fundraising campaign to help the Elon University sophomore.
By Sarah Mulnick '17
Teammates and coaches of a star Elon University women's soccer player have raised more than $30,000 to assist the sophomore and her family as she seeks treatment for a bone cancer that is prompting her return home to New Jersey for medical care this spring.
Nicole "Colie" Dennion, whose athletic prowess last fall earned her Southern Conference Player of the Year accolades, was diagnosed this winter with Ewing’s sarcoma, a childhood bone cancer that affects bone or the soft tissue surrounding bone. The disease is the second most common bone cancer in young people and with early diagnosis is often treated successfully.
When the exercise science major withdrew from classes after discovering a bump on her rib, friends led by women's soccer head coach Chris Neal started a fundraiser to assist with medical expenses and offer emotional backing.
“They have been the most supportive people through this right now,” Dennion said, “and I can't thank them enough.”
The effort dubbed "Kickin' It With Colie!" spread through social media, and organizers have already revised upward their fundraising goal. The campaign's initial target of $20,000 was quickly surpassed. So was the second mark of $30,000.
Teammates are currently aiming for $35,000 in donations, and they're fast approaching that figure.
Other schools are demonstrating their own signs of solidarity with Dennion. Clemson University’s women’s soccer team dedicated an exhibition game on March 8 against Wofford College. The team said on its website that it wanted her to know they were “thinking of her and have her in our prayers.”
Neal established the fundraiser on Gofundme, an online platform for a variety of causes. "Being able to show that hub of support means a lot to her,” Neal said. “She’s a tough girl. She’ll get through it."
The native of Ewing, N.J., was named the 2013 Southern Conference Player of the Year after tying for first in the conference in goals with 15, which set an Elon single season Division I record.
“I have to thank my teammates and coaches for always pushing me to strive for my best,” Dennion said. “The soccer team is my family, my teammates are my sisters. We are there for each other through everything.”
Dennion’s future plans, she said, are to fight Ewing’s and get back on the soccer field as soon as possible. “I would just like to thank everyone for their support, thoughts and prayers,” she added. “It means so much knowing that they care and want to help.”