In just a few weeks, Emerson’s men’s lacrosse team raised over $2,700 for The Daniel J. Hollis Foundation to honor their late friend, teammate, and #27.
The Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, Inc. was created to honor the memory and life of Hollis and is committed to providing opportunities for young people to “cultivate curiosity, support healthy competition, and develop meaningful connections.” Hollis ‘22, a Marketing Communication major and a goaltender on the team, died on October 2, 2019, at age 19, as the result of a brain injury.
This year, the foundation has helped fund music lessons and instruments, including eight violins, three clarinets and three sets of drums, as well as a guide dog for a child with autism, educational grants, and much more.
Junior attacker Nicholas Fulgione ’24, came up with the idea of raising money for the Foundation throughout “Movember,” an annual event in which men grow mustaches to raise awareness and financial support for men’s health issues and other causes. The team, and their coach, Matthew Colombini were all on board with Muzzys for Dan – an ironic choice of fundraiser as Hollis was never one to grow out facial hair, those who knew him said.
Colombini said it was great seeing his players come together for such a meaningful cause, especially those younger members, like Fulgione, who had not had the chance to meet Hollis.
“I was just excited that someone who actually didn’t even play with Dan, was actually the one who came to me with the idea and wanted to do something to help support the foundation,” Colombini said.
After being contacted about the idea by goaltender Malcolm McGrath ’22, one of Hollis’ best friends, Jennifer Kelly, Hollis’ mother and president of The Daniel J. Hollis Foundation, began planning with Colombini.
“I thought it was a great idea…. [McGrath] wanted to be very respectful and make sure that is something we were behind, and I think this is a fabulous idea… The young men raised money, they met their goal within a few days’ time, and we were just really super grateful for it,” Kelly said.
McGrath described Hollis as goofy, talented, creative, innovative, and a tireless athlete. He said he believes Muzzys for Dan has bonded the team tighter than ever as they worked through the fundraiser.
“Everyone’s heard about Dan, whether they knew him or not, he’s kind of got this lore about him,” McGrath said. “It was a cool little thing to bring us a bit closer together, especially because last year, [because of] COVID, there wasn’t enough time to get to know everybody intimately, so I guess this was a cool thing to bring us closer as a group, as a team” said McGrath.
Hunter Gervais ‘22, another close friend of Hollis and attacker on the team, believes Hollis had some part in helping them reach their goal so quickly, thanks to his warm and dedicated spirit, along with the whole team and Emerson community.
“We absolutely crushed it, so I can thank the guys who put in the work, but also the people that donated. It’s just amazing what everyone will do to support us… it didn’t just help us as a team, but the community as whole,” said Gervais.
Gervais, McGrath, Fulgione, Colombini, and others hope their success can inspire other campus organizations to raise money for causes they are passionate about, something they believe Hollis would have wanted.
Hollis’ mother, Jennifer Kelly, might agree.
“Dan … was a very good athlete, but it was the team that was the most important to him, and building those friendships and relationships… changed his life. He just deeply loved everyone on the team and we’re really grateful that they continue to remember him with as much love and compassion as he had for them,” she said.