Anaplastic Astrocytoma diagnosis provided motivation for Syracuse football program to tackle rare diseases

RARE DISEASE SPOTLIGHT GRAPHICThere are more than 7,000 different rare diseases but we are one rare disease community. Regularly, Uplifting Athletes will put one rare disease center stage to give that disease and its community a chance to shine.

Rare Disease: Anaplastic Astrocytoma

Brief Description: Anaplastic astrocytoma is a rare malignant brain tumor. Astrocytomas are tumors that develop from certain star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes and similar cells form tissue that surrounds and protects other nerve cells found within the brain and spinal cord. Astrocytomas are classified according to a grading system developed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Astrocytomas come in four grades based upon how fast the cells are reproducing and that likelihood that they will spread. The exact cause is unknown, and it tends to affect adults more than children and males over females.

Rare Connection: Former Syracuse punter Rob Long was diagnosed with Grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma 5 after days the final game of his senior season. Bound for the NFL as one of the best punters in the college football, Long was suddenly in a fight for his life. The standard prognosis for a Grade III diagnosis like Rob’s is an expected life span of 3-5 years. The harrowing news did not deter Rob. It motivated him to literally fight for his life. That fight served as an inspiration to many in Rob’s circle of life – including his teammates at Syracuse. Using Rob as an inspiration, several members of the Orange football team, led by Sam Rodgers, put in the hard work and time to form an Uplifting Athletes Chapter on campus to inspire their teammate with hope and let him know they were doing everything they could to support him.  Although, the long and winding battle to become cancer free cost Rob his NFL career opportunity, it opened another door that allows him to fulfill his passion – helping and serving others in the rare disease community. Rob is a former rare disease patient, a rare disease survivor and works daily to help strengthen the bond between college football and the rare disease community as the Director of Strategic Development for Uplifting Athletes.

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Patient Groups: American Brain Tumor Association, National Brain Tumor Society, American Cancer Society, Brain Tumor Foundation For Children.

Getting Social: Twitter: @theABTA, @NBTStweets, @AmericanCancer, Facebook: ABTA, braintumorfoundation, AmericanCancerSociety, BTFC.

Learn More: There is currently one FDA approved treatment for Anaplastic Astrocytoma. However, there currently is no cure. For more information, go here. Some of the most well respected resources inside the rare disease community include National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD). A strong patient community to help makes a difference exists through Global Genes.

Four finalists announced to determine the 10th winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award

RDC GRAPHIC 18Uplifting Athletes is pleased to announce that four finalists have been chosen for the 2018 Rare Disease Champion Award.

The Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award is given to a leader in college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.

The 10th Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion will be one of these four individuals: Jaqwis Dancy of Louisiana Tech, Shaquem Griffin from University of Central Florida (UCF), Zack Mahoney from Syracuse and Casey O’Brien from Minnesota.

Uplifting Athletes is now a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). So, for the first time in the 10-year history of the Rare Disease Champion Award, the finalists were unveiled on the red carpet prior to the Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Atlanta on Thursday, December 7.

A public online vote is used to determine the winner of the Rare Disease Champion Award. You can vote once per day for your favorite finalist at and voting will be open until Monday, January 8th at midnight.

The finalist with the most votes will be winner. The 2018 champion will be officially announced on Tuesday, January 9th.

The 2018 Rare Disease Champion will be honored as part of the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 9th in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Tropicana Casino & Resort.

Seven Uplifting Athletes Chapters headed to postseason bowl games

BOWL IMAGESeven college football programs with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter are headed to bowl games to put a bow on their 2017 college football season.

Florida State, NC State, Northwestern, Penn State, Notre Dame, Washington and Clemson all finished bowl eligible this season.

Clemson, the defending National Champions, are in the College Football Playoffs for the third consecutive year and will take on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in one semifinal.

Penn State finished with its second double-digit win season in a row and its two losses were by a combined four points. The Nittany Lions, who are part of the New Year’s Six after coming in at No. 9 in the final CFP rankings, will play fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Washington in the Fiesta Bowl.

Florida State is going through a major coaching change, but the Seminoles won their final game of the regular season to keep their streak of consecutive bowl appearances at 36 and counting. FSU will take on Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl.

Northwestern was one of the hottest teams in college football down the stretch. The Wildcats finished the regular season with seven consecutive victories, including three straight in overtime, to end up inside the Top 25 of the final CFP rankings. Northwestern will play Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.

Notre Dame was one of the four teams ranked early in the CFP rankings, but struggled down the stretch and finished 9-3 overall. But the Fighting Irish still drew a nice bowl destination, the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., and get a strong opponent in LSU.

NC had a solid season, finishing 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the ACC, and finished inside the final CFP Top 25 rankings. The reward for the Wolfpack is a trip to the desert to play Arizona State in the Sun Bowl.

Uplifting Athletes Chapters are run by current college football student-athletes and use the platform of college football to support mission of Uplifting Athletes to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.




Weekly Update: Stony Brook runs past Lehigh in NCAA FCS postseason opener and Northwestern wins seventh in a row

WEEK 13 GRAPHICStony Brook was making its third appearance in the NCAA FCS College Football Playoffs, and in each of the previous two postseason visits, in 2011 and 2012, the Seawolves won their opener.

Make it 3-for-3 in first round games as Stony Brook used a punishing ground game that piled up 354 yards to overwhelm Patriot League co-champion Lehigh at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

Donald Liotine, Stacey Bedell and Jordan Gowins combined for 38 of Stony Brook’s 49 rushing attempts. The trio totaled 274 yards on the ground with five touchdowns, led by Liotine’s 133 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.

Next up for the Seawolves, who rang up 622 total yards in posting their sixth win a row, is a visit to defending NCAA FCS champion James Madison Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

Northwestern wrapped up a nine-win regular season by steamrolling Illinois. The victory was the seventh in a row for the Wildcats and will earn head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s squad a tasty bowl bid. Led by 144 yards rushing from Uplifting Athletes Co-Rare Performance of the Week honoree Justin Jackson, the Wildcats pounded out more than 300 yards on the ground.

Florida State rolled past in-state rival Florida to get within one victory of being bowl eligible. The Seminoles used a pair of defensive touchdowns to subdue the Gators in a defensive battle where the teams combined for fewer than 500 yards.

Penn State finished with 10 regular-season victories for the second year in a row with a convincing road victory at Maryland. The Nittany Lions spread the wealth around offensively, led by more than 250 total yards and three touchdowns from Uplifting Athletes Co-Rare Performance of the Week honoree QB Trace McSorley.

Clemson is heading back to the ACC title game and is one victory shy of a third consecutive trip to the College Football Playoffs after rolling rival South Carolina in the Palmetto State Bowl. The Tigers raced out to a 34-0 advantage after three quarters behind 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns from QB Kelly Bryant.

NC State RB Nyheim Hines had a career-best 196 yards on the ground to power the Wolfpack past North Carolina to finish the regular season 8-4 overall and set themselves up well in the ACC pecking order in terms of a bowl bid with a 6-2 conference record.



Penn State QB Trace McSorley’s and Northwestern RB Justin Jackson’s Big Ten records earn shared Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor

TRACEJUSTIN IMAGEA pair of Big Ten players posted strong performances on the final weekend of the regular season and finished the season as only the second player in conference history to complete their rare accomplishment.

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and Northwestern running back Justin Jackson both entered the Big Ten record books and share the final Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week for 2017.

McSorley threw a pair of touchdowns and rushed for another score in the Nittany Lions victory at Maryland. With those three touchdowns, McSorley became only the second player in Big Ten history to pass for 25 and rush for 10 touchdowns in the same season.

He joins Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett from Ohio State on the list. Barrett established the benchmark in 2014.

Jackson, who carried 18 times for 144 and a touchdown in the Wildcats’ seventh consecutive victory, is only the second player in Big Ten history to rush for 1,000 or more yards all four years.

He joins 1999 Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Hall of Fame member Ron Dayne from Wisconsin as the only other Big Ten running back to accomplish this.

Previous Uplifting Athletes

Rare Performance of the Week Winners

Week 1: RB Josh Adams, Notre Dame

Week 2: QB Ryan Finley, NC State

Week 3: QB Trace McSorley, Penn State

Week 4: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Week 5: WR Ervin Philips, Syracuse

Week 6: QB Chad Kanoff, Princeton

Week 7: QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse

Week 8: WR Jesper Horsted, Princeton

Week 9: QB Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

Week 10: QB Will Fischer-Colbrie, Penn

Week 11: QB Zack Mahoney, Syracuse

Week 12: WR Justin Motlow, Florida State


Weekly Update: Colgate captures share of Patriot League crown and miracle finish helps propel Stony Brook to NCAA FCS playoff berth

WEEK 12 GRAPHICFor the ninth time in program history, Colgate earned at least a share of the Patriot League title by scoring the final 35 points to knock off Georgetown.

The Raiders shared the 2017 crown with Lehigh at 5-1, but the Lehigh Mountain Hawks earned the automatic conference bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs. Colgate did not receive an at-large bid from the committee despite winning its final five games to finish 7-4 overall.

This was the second time in three years Colgate has earned at least a share of the Patriot League crown. The Raiders defense stretched its streak of scoreless quarters to 15 in the victory.

The last time Colgate’s defense allowed a touchdown was October 21 when Holy Cross scored on its opening drive. The lone Georgetown touchdown came on a pick-6 on the first play from scrimmage.

What a weekend for the Stony Brook Seawolves. They started it off with a dramatic come-from-behind road victory at Maine that included a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

The winning points came on a 35-yard Hail Mary pass hauled in by Harrison Jackson as time expired to secure the one-point victory.

That miracle reception by Jackson, who was surrounded by Maine defenders, allowed Stony Brook to finish 9-2 overall and 7-1 in the CAA. And that record earned the solo second-place finishers in the CAA an invitation to the NCAA College Football FCS Playoffs. The Seawolves will host Patriot League co-champion Lehigh in the opener.

This is the first postseason berth for Stony Brook since 2012 and only the third playoff appearance in school history for the Seawolves.

Penn closed out its 2017 season with four consecutive victories to rally and post a 6-4 overall record with a win over Cornell at Franklin Field. The Quakers finished 4-3 in the Ivy League and those three league losses came by a total of 11 points combined.

Clemson and Florida State each posted easy victories over FCS schools. In the Seminoles victory over Delaware State, senior WR Justin Motlow, a walk-on, not only scored a touchdown but made history to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Northwestern won its sixth in a row after a rough start and is one of the hottest teams in college football. The Wildcats blanked Minnesota at Ryan Field behind 166 yards from RB Justin Jackson and a defense that surrendered less than 200 yards and forced five turnovers.

Penn State is on track for a second consecutive double-digit win season after the defending Big Ten Champions disposed of Nebraska on Senior Day at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions led by 32 early in the fourth quarter before the Huskers scored three times in the final 6:32 to close the final gap. Penn State had more than 600 yards of offense including 325 yards and three touchdowns through the air by QB Trace McSorley.

Notre Dame kept its hopes for a 10-win regular season alive by rallying to score the final 14 points to edge Navy by a touchdown at home. QB Brandon Wimbush threw a pair of TD passes to tie the game then put the Irish ahead for good early in the fourth quarter.


Florida State senior walk-on wide receiver Justin Motlow leaves his mark with touchdown catch and makes history to earn Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week

MOTLOWA walk-on wide receiver from Florida State made history this past Saturday on Senior Day at Doak Campbell Stadium.

There were actually two watershed moments for Seminoles WR Justin Motlow. After four years of grinding, he made the first touchdown catch of his career in the fourth quarter. And the former Tampa Catholic standout also became the first member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to play for Florida State.

Motlow’s combination of perseverance, that was finally rewarded with a touchdown grab, and becoming a part of FSU football history earns him the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

The 12-yard crisp flag route Motlow ran was something he will never forget. As he came out of his break the ball from quarterback JJ Cosentino was in the air.

“When I came out of my break, time just stood still,” Motlow said. “I saw the ball in the air and I just knew this was my big opportunity and I knew I wasn’t going to drop it for anything. Made the play and that was the most excited I’ve ever been.”

In the midst of a blowout victory over Delaware State, the Seminoles bench exploded when Motlow scored – not because FSU had added to its point total but because of who scored.

“Motlow is one of the guys, he’s always happy,” FSU cornerback Tarvarus McFadden said. “You’ll never catch Motlow down. So when you see Motlow make a play like that and everybody know what Motlow is capable of, it just means a lot to the team.”

The touchdown catch was something Motlow said he will never forget. But he also understands the historical significance of his first appearance for FSU.

“That is just the most amazing honor you could ever feel,” Motlow said. “I am so proud to represent my tribe. The first member to score a touchdown, let alone just play, it’s an exhilarating feeling. It makes me so happy.”

Previous Uplifting Athletes

Rare Performance of the Week Winners

Week 1: RB Josh Adams, Notre Dame

Week 2: QB Ryan Finley, NC State

Week 3: QB Trace McSorley, Penn State

Week 4: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Week 5: WR Ervin Philips, Syracuse

Week 6: QB Chad Kanoff, Princeton

Week 7: QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse

Week 8: WR Jesper Horsted, Princeton

Week 9: QB Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

Week 10: QB Will Fischer-Colbrie, Penn

Week 11: QB Zack Mahoney, Syracuse