Nikki’s Front Row Experience: Dallas Cowboys Game
Nikki Colasanti is a powerful force with an incredible mindset. She was diagnosed with an aggressive type of Cancer, HER2-Positive Stage IV Breast Cancer, in April of 2016 and went through some unexpected side effects with each round of chemotherapy. After having her sixth round of chemotherapy mid-September she married her husband, John, on October 16, 2016. Although Nikki will likely be on maintenance chemotherapy the rest of her life, she is destined to not be a statistic. Nikki has incredible energy, a champion’s attitude, and circle of friends and family that keep her going during the most difficult of times.
Nikki works at Rowan University, which has been amazing in supporting her through her health journey. People that she doesn’t even know have donated time so that she could take the time she needed to rest and take care of herself, all while continuing to be paid due to the generosity of her colleagues at Rowan. Her mother, Christina, who applied for Nikki’s Front Row Experience, her husband John, and friends at Rowan helped us to unveil the surprise of her Front Row Experience. This took place at Rowan’s annual Holiday Helper event for which the proceeds benefit the charity and created an opportunity for Rowan to sponsor one of their own as a Front Row Recipient.
Having been born in Dallas, TX meant Nikki was destined to be a Dallas Cowboys Fan. Even after having moved a few times during her childhood and currently living in NJ has not diminished her love for her Cowboys and her favorite player, Jason Witten. She is a super fan who follows the players and has the app on her phone for all NFL updates. She has followed the team’s stats going back to her first game and also pays attention to the most recent injury reports.
Nikki has been described as a team player, passionate about respect, responsible, and extremely caring, but you only need to hear one story to understand how compassionate and kind she is. Nikki shared that she has found people in public treating her differently since being diagnosed with Cancer. She explained how she had received some looks that were less than pleasant and although she had been treated overall pretty well, some people treated her as if they were scared. She remarked to her husband how she felt so grateful for those people because if they were looking at her that way, it meant they had never had to experience the awfulness and challenges of Cancer themselves or with a loved one.
When you meet Nikki, you’d never know she was struggling though, because of her huge and infectious smile. When she showed up, her and her husband John lit up the room. Her mother described her as a hugger, which couldn’t have been more accurate. Nikki was often a source of inspiration and strength and you could feel that in her hugs. While describing her challenges and her outlook going through the meetings with doctors, finding out about her diagnoses, and the planning of her wedding, she was full of dignity and compassion. You could feel the love from John, as he’d hold her hand and stared at her like a teenager on a first date.
When Nikki’s mother, Christina, nominated her for a Front Row experience, there was no guessing that Nikki was a hard core Dallas Cowboys fan. Christina painted such a vivid picture of Nikki, Event Directors Jon and Mike just knew they had to create an amazing experience just for her.
One of the highlights of the day was when Nikki’s best friend from Texas, Amber, and her daughter, Jade, joined the group for lunch and we headed to a local restaurant to enjoy Nikki’s favorite kind of food, Mexican! We laid out the red carpet for Nikki and her entourage of adoring fans to take a limo to Lupe’s Tex-Mex. While we enjoyed authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, we laughed that Nikki and John had brought the cold weather with them to Dallas from New Jersey where they live, as it was uncharacteristically cold. Listening to Nikki and Amber tell stories from growing up together, you could tell that Nikki’s infectious laughter and sense of humor had started early on. Another thing that had started early on was her love of the Dallas Cowboys. Anytime the conversation led to football, you would see her eyes light up. Since John is not from Texas, he was not a Cowboys fan until he met Nikki.
Nikki and John got their Cowboys hats and gear for the game, and then were on their way! The game was a special one, as the Dallas Cowboys were playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to secure their Home field advantage during the playoffs. They were favored to win and it would be Nikki’s first time into Jerryworld – the nickname given to the Cowboys’ massive stadium. Driving up, the conversation ended and silence prevailed as Nikki saw the monstrous stadium and turned into a giddy child.
After Nikki and John found their seats, the Front Row Foundation had a special surprise for them, On Field Passes! Nikki was beyond ecstatic as she got to walk on the field where her favorite team plays. Her and John were in a wonderland as they got to see some of their favorite players up close. Nikki joked about sneaking past security to get to Jason Witten, and we all thought she was being serious!
When the game started, before a point had been scored, Nikki leaned over to John and said, “This is the best day ever!” John said, “Even better than our wedding?” Nikki paused and as she started to stammer, John said, “It’s okay, I think so too.”
The Cowboys jumped to an early lead and held on until the third quarter. Then in dramatic fashion, came back to win while their star running back had a career performance.
Part of Nikki’s wish was to see the AT&T Stadium in person. What better way to remember – lots of pictures! \o/
After an incredible roller coaster of a game, Nikki and John were exhausted but still hungry. Nothing like pulling up to Whataburger in a limo for some late night munchies. Also a few incredible pieces of memorabilia were given to Nikki and John so they wouldn’t ever forget this special day.
The next morning, Nikki and the Front Row crew met for breakfast where she was presented with a special present from the Dallas Cowboys themselves, a swag bag for their ultimate fan! Nikki and John were still ecstatic from the game and basking in the Cowboys’ win. From start to finish of her event, Nikki was glowing with joy, compassion, and strength. Everyone in her life rallies around her because of her infectious spirit and amazing perspective on life. Nikki truly embodies the spirit of the Front Row Foundation by living her life and every moment truly in the Front Row.
When I think about what the Front Row really means to me, your name immediately comes to mind. From the moment you walked in for your interview, all the way until you left from breakfast, you were a radiant ball of awesome. Watching you live all in and full out was a serious blessing and one I won’t forget. I am honored to have been a part of your experience and so inspired by your true Front Row heart!
What impresses me the most about you is the core of your heart. How you approach life inspires me. Thank you for sharing your Front Row Moment with me. \o/