Chapter Update: Record setting home opener for Western Michigan highlights Week 3


It was a record setting night inside Western Michigan’s Waldo Stadium, as the Broncos offense ran wild over Georgia State with nearly 700 total yards.

Four WMU running backs combined to score a program-record seven touchdowns. The seven rushing touchdowns are also the fifth most by a Mid-American Conference (MAC) team in a single game.

Senior running back LeVante Bellamy led the offensive explosion with 192 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Freshman Sean Tyler chipped in with 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns to give the Broncos two backs with 100-plus yards for the fifth time in the last 30 games.

Western Michigan Chapter President Justin Tranquill, a safety for the Broncos, had four tackles, his second career interception and also had a pass break up.

Davidson: Led by a scrappy defense that limited West Virginia Wesleyan to fewer than 200 total yards, the Wildcats improved to 3-0 for the second consecutive season and posted its first shutout since the 2014 season. The Davidson offense registered a season-high 357 yards on the ground and for the third consecutive game did not surrender a point in the first half – grabbing a 17-0 lead at intermission. Davidson Chapter co-founders and leaders, linebacker George Hatalowich and safety Kevin Stipe, combined to make four tackles.

Northwestern: The Wildcats won their home opener over UNLV on the strength of nearly 450 yards of total offense and a defense that forced three turnovers and held the Rebels scoreless in the second half. Running back Drake Anderson had a career day, posting 141 yards on 26 carries, including a seven-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Defensive end Joe Gaziano had a monster game with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Gaziano is only the fourth Wildcats player since 2000 to have a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in a game. Northwestern Chapter Vice President Joe Spivak recorded the first solo tackle, sack and tackle for a loss of his career.

Learn more about Northwestern Chapter Vice President Joe Spivak in our Beyond The Trophy series

Penn State: Bolstered by a fourth-quarter goal line stand and a third quarter touchdown run by freshman running back Noah Cain, the Nittany Lions edged in-state rival Pitt in the 100th meeting between the two schools. The Panthers had first-and-goal from the 1-yard-line with less than five minutes to play trailing by a touchdown and came away with zero points. PSU Chapter President, starting quarterback Sean Clifford, threw for 222 yards. Nittany Lions kicker Jordan Stout broke the school record with a 57-yard field goal in the second quarter to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week award. The previous record was held by Chris Bahr, who booted three 55-yard field goals in 1975. Penn State Chapter Vice President Chris Stoll is the Nittany Lions’ long snapper and was part of Stout’s record kick.

Marist: Fifth-year senior wide receiver Anthony Olivencia hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass with 8:52 to play to vault the Red Foxes to their first victory of the season. Kicker Luke Paladino’s 49-yard field goal in the first quarter tied the school record, previously set in 2011. 

Stony Brook: The Seawolves won for the 11th consecutive time at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium behind a balanced offensive attack that overwhelmed visiting Wagner. Stony Brook had 551 total yards – 282 passing and 269 rushing. Quarterback Tyquell Fields, in his first season as the starter, registered his career-best in completions (11) and yards (282). Fields’ 282 yards was the most by a Stony Brook quarterback since the 2013 season. Stony Brook Chapter President, tight end Zach Lucas, had a pair of catches for 15 yards.

Clemson: The No. 1 team in the country set a school record for consecutive victories with win No. 18 on the road at Syracuse. The 18th win in a row surpassed the mark of 17 set in 2014-15. The Tigers defense recorded eight sacks and limited the Orange to fewer than 200 total yards. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence set a new career-high in passing yards with 395 and three touchdowns. Clemson Chapter President, punter Will Spiers, averaged 40.5 yards on six punts with a long of 53 yards.

Saint Francis: The Red Flash improved to 2-1 overall on the strength of a balanced offense and a strong second half to pull away from Merrimack in its home opener. Saint Francis outscored the visitors 22-0 over the final two quarters and were a perfect 7-for-7 in the red zone with five touchdowns.

Notre Dame: Behind a defense that produced three first-half interceptions including a pick-six to open the scoring and a 31-point second quarter the Top 10 nationally ranked Fighting Irish rolled over New Mexico to record their 12th consecutive victory at home. Notre Dame Chapter co-Vice President, linebacker Drew White, registered four tackles including one tackle for a loss.

Fordham: The Rams exploded in the fourth quarter with 23 unanswered points to rally from behind to knock off Bryant on the road to record victory No. 1 of the season. Limited to a trio of field goals for more than three quarters, Fordham ripped off touchdowns covering 48, 45 and 20 yards in a 5-minute span the second half of the fourth quarter to pull away.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Northwestern Chapter Vice President and defensive tackle Joe Spivak


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Joe Spivak

College: Northwestern Wildcats

Height, weight, class, position: 6-0, 290-pound, junior, defensive tackle

High School: Montini Catholic in Darien, Ill.

About Joe: The junior came to Northwestern in 2017 with a ton of leadership qualities after being the first sophomore in his school to be selected as a team captain and Joe was a three-year captain at Montini Catholic. … One of 12 true freshman to play during the 2017, Joe saw action in five games as a back-up defensive tackle and made his first career tackle against Minnesota. … Joe Spivak joined the leadership team for the Northwestern Chapter in 2018 and has moved into a leadership role for 2019, serving as the chapter Vice President. He attended the 2019 Leadership Development Conference and became passionate about the rare disease cause. He helped guide the Northwestern Chapter to a successful Lift For Life earlier this year. … As a sophomore in 2018 Joe played in nine games as a defensive tackle and an Academic All-Big Ten selection.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

SPIVAK: The national anthem at the B1G Championship last year.  The crowd was roaring the whole time and I was sobbing like a baby! Lol! Such a powerful moment and the embodiment of so much hard work for so many young men on that field and parents in the stands!

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIVAK: Growing up, my parents and three older sisters opened my eyes to all the amazing things that come from investing yourself in athletics: the health benefits, the development of lifelong habits, the importance of goal-setting … The list could go on and on but what I think is the greatest is the relationships that come from sports! Football has brought me so many priceless relationships and made my family so much larger. I believe that these relationships and formation of a team is what is at the core of Uplifting Athletes: We want to help the Rare Disease Community know that they are NOT alone and we are on their team! 

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIVAK: Just how “not rare” rare disease is! Just about every one of us has had our lives affected by rare diseases and to think that families affected can sometimes be told they are alone in the fight makes me eager to let them know we are there!

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

SPIVAK: Grind, grind, and grind some more … but SMILE through it all! To get to the college gridiron takes countless hours of training and the discipline to make the right decisions consistently, but to even be able to have ‘College Football’ as a goal is a blessing and should be viewed like it. Your attitude is all you can control at the end of the day, and when you view the journey itself as a blessing (not just the end-goal) the quality of your craft will skyrocket. Your height, weight, and 40 yard dash time do not define your skill-set … YOU DO!

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

SPIVAK: John Randle is easily my favorite NFL player. Randle (whose number I wear today-93) was also an undersized DT but above all was an absolute JUICE FACTORY. The guy basically trademarked trash talking and is arguably the most enthusiastic player to ever be on an NFL field. I encourage everyone to watch some videos of him on YouTube. Honorable Mention also goes to my cousin Michael Hoomanawanui who played TE for nine seasons in the league and the big brother I never had! 

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

SPIVAK: I would choose my grandfather from my dad’s side, Joe Spivak II. I never knew my grandpa Spivak but I wish I did. When he was in the sixth grade he left school during the depression to work and help provide for his family. He worked in a steel-mill for the rest of his life among an additional 1-2 more jobs to provide for my dad and his 12 siblings. My parents tell me stories about him and how his smile and personality would light up a room. My life was nothing like this and I often wonder if I could’ve been as selfless as he was and “grinded with a smile” if I was working in a steel-mill!

JOE ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

SPIVAK: Anything as long as it’s deep dish!

All time favorite movie?

SPIVAK: The Other Guys

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

SPIVAK: Chick-fil-a

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

SPIVAK: Northwestern Wildcats (any sport)

What is the most used app on your phone?

SPIVAK: Instagram

Chapter Update: Maryland piles up records in Week 2 upset of Syracuse


Maryland is off to a 2-0 start, and the Terrapins offense is setting plenty of school records in the process.

The opening victory over Howard, where the Terps scored 79 points, was no surprise at all. But following that up with 63 against previously ranked Syracuse turned plenty of heads in Week 2 of the college football season.

Maryland’s 63 points are the most ever against a ranked opponent and for the first time in school history the Terps have scored 55 or more points in back-to-back games.

Quarterback Josh Jackson threw for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns and four running backs teamed up for 343 rushing yards and six touchdowns on only 37 carries. 

Fast starts have been key for Maryland, as the Terps have totaled 98 points in the first half this season, the most in a two-game stretch in program history.

Learn more about Illinois Chapter President Bobby Walker in our Beyond The Trophy series.

Penn State: Trailing Buffalo at halftime, the Nittany Lions used a pick-6 by cornerback John Reid to ignite a fire under the offense that saw Penn State outscore the visitors 38-3 in the second half. QB Sean Clifford, the PSU Chapter President, had 345 total yards and threw four touchdown passes. TE Pat Freiermuth had a career-high in catches (8), yards (99) and tied his career-best for touchdowns with a pair.

Davidson: The Wildcats used a pair of interception returns for touchdowns and a balanced offensive push to overwhelm Virginia Lynchburg at home. For the second consecutive week Davidson’s defense did not allow a point in the first half. Rayshawn McCall and Jaden Pask returned interceptions for touchdowns covering 46 and 37 yards, respectively.

NC State: After a sluggish first quarter where the Wolfpack scored only three points, the Wolfpack offense heated up and scored on six consecutive possessions to blank Western Carolina. Zonovan Knight, a true freshman running back making only his second career start, became the 57th player in NC State Football history to rush for 100 yards. He is the second fastest player to record a 100-yard game since Tremayne Stephens did it in his first career start in 1994.  Knight’s feats earned him the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Kent State: For only the second time in program history, the Flashes won an overtime game by rallying with a late 4th quarter 38-yard field goal from Matthew Trickett before he won the game by converting a 43 yarder in extra time. Kent State had lost nine consecutive overtime games before claiming this year’s home opener.

Illinois: Trailing by 13 points early in the second quarter, the Illini erupted for 24 unanswered points to grab a lead it never relinquished. Quarterback Brandon Peters threw four touchdown passes – three of those in the second quarter – and became only the second Illinois QB since 2000 to throw for seven touchdowns in the first two games of the season. Peters, who threw for 164 yards in the second quarter, spread the ball around, too, with nine receivers catching at least one of his 24 completions.

Clemson: The Tigers tied the school record for consecutive victories at 17 by taking out No. 12 Texas A&M at home. The defending National Champions and consensus No. 1 team in the country improved to 9-1 against SEC teams since 2016. Clemson led 17-3 at halftime behind a defense that limited the Aggies to fewer than 100 yards over the first two quarters, and were never threatened in the second half.

Baylor: Five different Bears rushed for a touchdown and, for the second consecutive week, Baylor scored 35 first-half points to roll over UTSA at home. This was the third consecutive game, dating back to the bowl game in 2018, Baylor has posted 500 or more yards of offense.

Florida State: Star running back Cam Akers needed to be at his very best for the Seminoles to hold off the upset bid of the ULM Warhawks. Akers had 41 touches for 248 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including the eventual winning TD in overtime. Akers’ 36 rushing attempts broke a school record that had been shared by Mike Sellers (1950) and Travis Minor (1998) for the last 21 years. He finished with 193 yards on the ground.

Western Kentucky: A late goal-line stand by the Hilltoppers defense preserved a six-point Conference USA road victory over Florida International in Miami. FIU had second-and-goal at the WKU 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter before the Hilltoppers defense forced a fumble to move the ball back to the 16-yard line. Two more incompletions and a first down by the offense offense later, WKU had its first win of the season.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Illinois tight end and Chapter President Bobby Walker


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Bobby Walker

College: University of Illinois

Height, weight, class, position: 6-4, 240-pound, senior, tight end

High School: Loyola Academy in Golf, Ill.

About Bobby: A former walk-on who earned a scholarship prior to his junior season, Bobby has already earned bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently working on his master’s degree in management. He has appeared in all 12 games each of the last two seasons on special teams, and in 2017 made his first collegiate catch against Nebraska. For his work as a selfless servant to help other, the Illinois Chapter President is an AFCA Good Works Team nominee and is on the Wuerffel Trophy preseason watch list. Bobby has been a chapter leader serving the Rare Disease Community for three years, attended the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference in 2018 and 2019 and stepped into the role of Chapter President for his senior year.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

WALKER: My most memorable moment was being put on scholarship on Christmas of my junior year. I came in as a walk-on to school and I always had a dream to be a scholarship football player and to see that come true was something I’ll never forget. 

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

WALKER: Nicky Allegretti was probably the reason I got involved with Uplifting Athletes. I have always tried to get into service and the way Nick led the way, for me it was a great example.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

WALKER: I have learned a ton from Uplifting Athletes. I think first off, it would be about the Rare Disease Community as a whole and how much we as college athletes can affect a community that gets overlooked frequently. Being part of another community outside of football was also nice because it gives you another identity other than the game that most of us have been playing since we were kids. Eventually this game ends for everyone and finding outlets for my time in other areas has been very rewarding. 

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

WALKER: If you don’t love football you shouldn’t play at the next level. The commitment levels required to play in college are immense. You give up a lot of your time being around this game and if you aren’t loving every second of it you are going to find yourself in a bad place. Lastly would be how to manage time. Not only between football and school, but balancing relationships between family, friends, and your girlfriend are not easy and are often stressful. All that being said with your head and heart in the right place, as well as a strong support system around you, this game can be more rewarding than anything else in the world. 

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

WALKER: Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys is my favorite NFL player. Obviously he plays tight end but he also is a guy who knew how to be a professional in all senses of the word. He’s a great teammate, hard worker, committed father, and dedicated husband all the while coming back to play after a year of being out of the game. 

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

WALKER: If I could have lunch with anyone it would probably be Richard (Dick) Winters. He was the commanding officer for Easy Company in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II made famous by the book and HBO mini series Band Of Brothers. I would want to ask him about his experiences before and after the war, going through his rise in the military, being a part of one of the most decorated units in one of the hardest times in human history, as well as how he struggled in his life after the war. 

BOBBY ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

WALKER: Deep Dish sausage pizza with butter crust well done from Lou Malnatis. Can’t be beat.

All time favorite movie?

WALKER: Favorite movie is The Dark Knight. I always have been a huge Batman fan and the direction from Christopher Nolan as well as his casting were superb. 

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

WALKER: Chick-fil-A

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

WALKER: Chicago Cubs. Seeing them win the World Series after so many years was an amazing experience. 

What is the most used app on your phone?

WALKER: Probably Instagram. Whenever I need to kill time I feel like I get lost on there. 

Chapter Update: 13 teams committed to Tackling Rare Diseases open 2019 season with victories


Terrell Johnson hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass with 77 seconds remaining and Trevor Thompson nailed the extra point to help Saint Francis win its season opener in come-from-behind fashion on the road at Lehigh by a point.

The Red Flash victory wasn’t without plenty of late drama, though. Lehigh moved the ball down the field from its own 3-yard-line in the dying seconds and had a 40-yard field goal attempt to win it. Mountain Hawks kicker Austin Henning nailed his first attempt, but SFU had called timeout to ice him before the kick. His second attempt sailed wide right.

Saint Francis Chapter President Nick Rinella came up with the key play of the second half to keep the Red Flash on the comeback trail. After trailing 13-0 at halftime, Saint Francis cut the deficit to 13-7 late in the third quarter. Lehigh answered with a solid drive and was inside the SFU 10 when Rinella jumped a slant route on second down and returned the interception 34 yards.

Learn more about Lehigh Chapter President Jorge Portorreal in our Beyond The Trophy series.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions rolled up the third most total yards in school history – 673 – while limiting Idaho to five first downs and less than 150 total yards in the blowout victory. The Nittany Lions saw five running backs score seven rushing touchdowns, PSU Chapter President Sean Clifford threw for 280 yards and a couple scores in his first career start and the defense totaled seven sacks and 11 tackles for a loss.

Stony Brook: Powered by a balanced offense and a stingy run defense the Seawolves won at home for the 10th time in a row. Stony Brook’s defense set the tone when DB Synceir Malone returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown to open scoring in the first quarter.

Syracuse: The nationally ranked Orange rode a defense that posted eight sacks, limited Liberty to minus-4 yards rushing and pitched a shutout to overcome a new-look offense that sputtered at times. It was Syracuse’s first away-game shutout since the Orange won at Tulane (24-0) on Sept. 28, 1991.

Davidson: Running back William Wicks capped an 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to propel the Wildcats past Georgetown. Davidson led 20-0 at halftime before the Hoyas rallied with 20 third-quarter points off a trio of Wildcat turnovers. 

Illinois: New Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters threw for a trio of touchdowns and rushed for another and the Illinois defense limited Akron to fewer than 200 yards in a comfortable and complete victory. This was the 22nd victory for the Illini in a home opener – the fourth longest active streak in the country.

Western Michigan: Senior quarterback John Wassink threw for 368 yards and tied a career-best with five touchdown passes to power the Broncos to an impressive 35-point home victory over Monmouth. It was the third 300-plus yard passing game of Wassink’s career and the second year in a row he reached that number in the season opener after throwing for 379 a year ago against Syracuse.

Clemson: The consensus No. 1 team in the country opened the defense of its National Championship by running past Georgia Tech. Powered by a career day from running back Travis Etienne, the Tigers rushed for 411 yards – the most by Clemson in a season opener since 1957 and the most allowed by the Yellow Jackets since 1975. Etienne rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns. His 90-yard gallop in the first quarter tied for the longest run in school history and is the longest run by a Tiger at Memorial Stadium to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor.

Notre Dame: The final score might say this was a comfortable road opener for the Fighting Irish, but it wasn’t. Notre Dame trailed 14-7 in the first quarter and relied on an 11-yard touchdown run by QB Ian Book just before the half to pave the path to victory. Turnovers were key, as the Irish defense forced five fumbles and recovered three of them.

NC State: New Wolfpack quarterback Matthew McKay became only the third NC State quarterback since 1970 to throw for more than 300 yards in his first career start in their victory over East Carolina. He joins Phillip Rivers (2000) and Harrison Beck (2007) in this exclusive club. McKay totaled 308 yards through the air with a touchdown and also added a pair of rushing scores for an NC State team that is rebuilding. Six players made their first college start and 17 players made their NC State debut including 10 freshmen.

Maryland: New starting quarterback Josh Jackson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, threw four touchdown passes in his Maryland debut to help the Terrapins shatter the school record for points in a half with 56 in the blowout of Howard. 

Baylor: RB Trestan Ebner and WR R.J. Sneed combined to score five touchdowns for the Bears in a rout of Stephen F. Austin at home.

Richmond: The Spiders used 31 first-half points to subdue Jacksonville and record their 14th straight victory in a home opener – a streak that started in 2005 and is inside the Top 10 for FCS schools nationally.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Lehigh Chapter President and WR Jorge Portorreal


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Jorge Portorreal

College: Lehigh University

Height, weight, class, position: 5-11, 190, junior, wide receiver

High School: St. Peter’s Prep in Union, N.J.

About Jorge: After two seasons with the Mountain Hawks, Jorge has emerged as a go-to receiver. In addition to be a consistent performer as a wideout, he also returns kickoffs and punts. As a freshman in 2017 he appeared in all 12 games, made seven starts and finished with 56 catches for 729 yards and a touchdown. As a sophomore he led the team in receptions (55) and yards (794) with three touchdowns. He was a First Team All-Patriot League selection in 2018. … In the early stages of possibly starting an Uplifting Athletes Chapter at Lehigh, Jorge was one of the players in the team room that stepped forward and said he was inspired by the cause of serving the Rare Disease Community and is willing to volunteer for a leadership role. He attended the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference in 2019 and as the Lehigh Chapter President oversaw the inaugural Lift For Life earlier this year.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

PORTORREAL: Winning a Patriot League championship.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

PORTORREAL: Once I became aware of the situation at hand, I recognized the opportunity I had to get involved and could not hesitate to help and spread awareness and raise money with my brothers. 

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

PORTORREAL: Uplifting Athletes enabled me to meet other student-athletes from different cultures, perspectives, and teams while gifting me the opportunity to assist the Rare Disease Community. 

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

PORTORREAL: Get ready for the most memorable moments in your life.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

PORTORREAL: Antonio Brown, simply because his work ethic and the level of preparation that he puts into the game of football. I love how he was someone who was very overlooked and worked his way to be the top receiver in the NFL. His versatility is something that I try to model my game after, being able to play in the slot, outside WR, punt returner, kick returner, etc. 

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

PORTORREAL: I would have lunch with Travis Scott. I just love the demeanor and energy he brings to the people around him and how he goes about his business. He is someone who is an originator, his creativity is unmatched which explains why he is so different than others. I see this in my personal life with being ok having differences and expanding creativity while being confident whether that is on or off the field. I really want to pick his brain a bit on what drives him to be who he is and how he does that with millions of people watching consistently. 

JORGE ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

PORTORREAL: Buffalo Chicken with hot sauce

All time favorite movie?

PORTORREAL: The Home Alone series

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

PORTORREAL: Chick-Fil-A

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

PORTORREAL: Pittsburgh Steelers

What is the most used app on your phone?

PORTORREAL: Snapchat

Young Investigator Draft grant recipient Dr. David Fajgenbaum pens book about his rare disease journey


For more than five years, Dr. David Fajgenbaum has been a friend, mentor, advisor, inspiration and partner to Uplifting Athletes and the Rare Disease Community.

Dr. Fajgenbaum was a recipient of one of the five research grants awarded at the inaugural Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft in 2018. The research organization he helped launch, Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, which was a priority partner for our Young Investigator Draft initiative in both 2018 and 2019.

His vision as a researcher/scientist and passion to help others is infectious. Uplifting Athletes is extremely fortunate to have a close and personal relationship with Dr. Fajgenbaum.

“It’s been an honor to get to know David and to be able to call him a friend and a mentor,” said Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long, who was also a rare disease patient. “What he has accomplished, not only for the Castleman community, but the rare disease and medical community as a whole, cannot be understated.

“His humility and kindness are remarkable. We are proud to share David’s story to inspire others who have had the odds stacked against them.”

Dr. Fajgenbaum’s rare disease story is amazing. It has many layers and levels. A snapshot at a conference or as a guest speaker doesn’t do the depth and breadth of his journey justice.

So, Dr. Fajgenbaum added another bullet point to his already robust resume – book author.

Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race To Turn Hope into Action by Dr. David Fajgenbaum is the inspiring memoir of a young doctor and former college football player who became a champion for people suffering from a rare, under-researched disease – all while battling his own.

Dr. Fajgenbaum’s memoir, released by Ballantine Hardcover, is available for sale starting September 10, 2019.

A former Georgetown quarterback nicknamed “The Beast,” David Fajgenbaum was also a force in medical school, where he was known for his unmatched mental stamina. But things changed dramatically when he began suffering from inexplicable fatigue. In a matter of weeks, his organs were failing and he was read his last rites. Doctors were baffled over a condition they had yet to even diagnose; floating in and out of consciousness, Fajgenbaum prayed for the equivalent of a game day overtime: a second chance.

Miraculously, Fajgenbaum survived, but only to endure repeated near-death relapses from what would eventually be identified as a form of Castleman disease—an extremely deadly and rare condition that acts like a cross between cancer and an autoimmune disorder.

When he relapsed on the only drug in development and realized that the medical community was unlikely to make progress in time to save his life, Fajgenbaum turned his desperate hope for a cure into concrete action: between hospitalizations he studied his own charts and tested his own blood samples, looking for clues that could unlock a new treatment.

With the help of family, friends and mentors, he also reached out to other Castleman disease patients and physicians, and eventually came up with an ambitious plan to crowdsource the most promising research questions and recruit world-class researchers to tackle them; instead of waiting for the scientific stars to align, he proposed to align them himself.

“David Fajgenbaum, a self-proclaimed “rare disease quarterback,” shares with us his extraordinary story of assembling a team and a framework to conduct unprecedented collaborative research,” Georgetown University President Dr. John J. DeGioia said. “In his deeply personal memoir, he makes plain the urgency of hope, and explores how the human spirit might transcend suffering to inspire communities to take
 collective action against seemingly insurmountable odds.”

More than five years later and now married to his college sweetheart with a daughter, his hard work has paid off: a treatment that he identified has induced a tentative remission and his novel approach to collaborative scientific inquiry has become a blueprint for advancing rare disease research. His incredible story demonstrates the potency of hope, and what can happen when forces of determination, love, family, faith and serendipity collide.