Inaugural Young Investigator Draft hosted by Uplifting Athletes coming August 18 at Lincoln Financial Field


YID 18 GRAPHICUplifting Athletes is set to tie the theme of the NFL Draft and Rare Disease Research together in Philadelphia.

The inaugural Young Investigator Draft hosted by Uplifting Athletes will take place on Saturday August 18th at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

The Young Investigator Draft is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the next generation of rare disease researchers.

“The next step in our evolution is the Young Investigator Draft. This is something that we have been looking forward to for quite some time,” Uplifting Athletes Director, Rare Disease Engagement Rob Long said. “And now that it has become a reality, we believe this inaugural event is the beginning of a program that will provide funding for inspirational, intelligent, and driven researchers in the rare disease space providing hope for so many in the rare disease community.”

Investigators will pursue rare disease research in five different areas: rare cancers, rare autoimmune and immunological disorders, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders and rare muscular and neurological disorders.

Similar to the NFL Draft where teams select the top young prospects available they feel can make the most impact, at the Young Investigator Draft, Uplifting Athletes will reveal our 2018 draft class in these five different rare disease categories to join our team.

The Young Investigator Draft grants are intended to inspire collaborative and translational research that will benefit the entire Rare Disease Community. The Young Investigator Draft stage will provide a platform for these young scientists to educate and inspire the audience by sharing their research along with its impact on the Rare Disease Community.

“We are are fortunate to be holding this event at Lincoln Financial Field,” Long said. “It’s the perfect venue for us to bring together the world of football and hope for the Rare Disease Community.”

Tickets are available through the Young Investigator Draft registration page. The event will include heavy hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine prior to the program for the evening.

For the inaugural Young Investigator Draft, these grants will be given in coordination with Uplifting Athletes’ Priority Partner Foundations. Uplifting Athletes is proud to currently be associated with the following Priority Partners: Boomer Esiason Foundation, Kidz1stFund, Project ALS and the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network and pleased that they will be joining us for this very special celebration.

The challenges faced by the rare disease community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. At Uplifting Athletes we take pride in providing opportunity for college football student-athletes and NFL players to use the platform they are afforded to shine a spotlight on rare diseases and support the cause.

Founded in 2007, Uplifting Athletes has college football student-athlete led chapters nationwide in FBS and FCS programs including nearly half the schools in the Big Ten and ACC conferences.

 

Six FCS Chapters kick off 2018 Lift For Life season with successful events


GENERAL L4L 18 GRAPHICUplifting Athletes kicked off its 2018 Lift For Life season with successful events at six FCS Chapters: Colgate, Davidson, Penn, Princeton, Saint Francis and Stony Brook.

The six events combined to raise more than $30,000 for Uplifting Athletes in support of its mission and commitment to our four charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Each member of the Uplifting Athletes team hit the road this spring to attend at least one of the Lift For Life events. Chapter Manager Brett Brackett made stops at Davidson, Princeton and Stony Brook, Scott Shirley traveled to Colgate, Andy Shay went to Saint Francis and Rob Long visited UPenn.

Each team member shared a brief account of what made these Lift For Life events unique and special.

SAINT FRANCIS: There was a competitive fire that was very obvious the moment you walked into the Red Flash weight room. It was a Saturday morning and normally that doesn’t fire guys up in the middle of the spring practice grind. But the Saint Francis team was ready to crush its goals. The big talk was about who would be the five players to represent each side of the ball in the offense vs. defense bench press max-out challenge to determine the winner. The music was thumping and the players were cheering as guys took their turn knocking out as many repetitions as possible. I was impressed with the commitment the strength and conditioning staff has to what the chapter is trying to accomplish. That’s an overlooked part of the equation to success, and at Saint Francis the Red Flash have an asset that helps make Lift For Life a success. – Andy Shay

DAVIDSON: This spring was Davidson’s first Lift For Life but you couldn’t tell that by the show of enthusiasm bright and early that morning. The entire team plus coaching staff packed into the narrow weight room to see which team could average the most reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. The teams wasted no time surrounding their respective benches and chanting as each rep was performed. As the voices echoed off the walls and the reps increased, so did the total fundraising amounts for each team. Team Cats Are Wild mastered the competition finishing with over $2,500 raised to support Uplifting Athletes. Second place went to Cats Crushing Rare Cancer with nearly $2,400 raised.  The Davidson coaches and players felt the extra motivation to push out extra reps knowing they were supporting such a worthy cause. – Brett Brackett

PRINCETON: The weather could not have been better on the Princeton University campus for their annual Lift For Life event. This only added to the excitement and energy found outside of the Frist Student Center. Two bench racks, two large tractor tires, and one box jump station were enough to provide ample opportunity for the student-athletes to unleash their energy in support of the Rare Disease Community. From the start, the air was electric as the student-athletes cheered and chanted as reps were performed representing another dollar raised in support of Uplifting Athletes. Overall, the offense came away with a clean sweep of all three challenges, however, the defense barely topped the offense in total team fundraising with $2,848 and $2,823 respectively. – Brett Brackett

COLGATE: The country roads leading me back to Hamilton, NY, always afford me the opportunity to reflect on my journey with Uplifting Athletes. Every chapter has a unique story and a special place in my heart…but it’s the drive to-and-from Colgate University in 2008 that I’ll never forget. Days after meeting then Colgate Athletic Director, Dave Roach, at NACDA in Dallas, I accepted his invitation to visit with their student-athletes to talk about expanding the Lift For Life from Penn State to other college campuses. I drove the four hours from Harrisburg to campus and met with Greg, Pat & Stephen in a coffee shop on the square. We outlined the necessary next steps to create the first “new chapter” of Uplifting Athletes. The windshield time allowed me to daydream about how big Uplifting Athletes could become and this was the first step. When I arrived home that evening, I was greeted by an email from Greg that enthusiastically communicated that they had completed ALL of the necessary steps and were ready to go! Returning to Colgate for their 10th Lift For Life was an amazing opportunity for me to use this benchmark to measure our progress and impact…while reaffirming my belief in the student-athletes’ resolve to use their platform and help others. Many of them did not know me, and I did not know them…but it didn’t matter because Uplifting Athletes is bigger than any of us. – Scott Shirley

STONY BROOK: Despite Mother Nature’s best effort to derail the spirits of the team, Stony Brook Uplifting Athletes held its annual Lift For Life on March 7 during one of several snowstorms that hit the east coast in the month of March. The impact that the Stony Brook Lift For Life had on the Rare Disease Community was far greater than the impact the storm had the Stony Brook community that day. The squad divided into five teams for a strength and conditioning competition. In addition, the teams battled to see which team could raise the most money to support Uplifting Athletes. Team Daniels prevailed as the largest part of the overall total of $5,145 raised by Stony Brook. Once the weather cleared, I was able to make a trip to Stony Brook to watch one of their spring practices. The leaders of Stony Brook Chapter have done a tremendous job creating an atmosphere amongst the team that projects a giving spirit and a willingness to leverage their platform as college football players to make a positive impact on the Rare Disease Community. – Brett Brackett

PENN: The 2018 UPenn Lift for Life was full of energy and excitement. The players took turns gathering around the bench racks to encourage their teammates with raucous cheers to get as many reps as possible to benefit Uplifting Athletes. Chapter Presidents Cooper Gardner and Steve Farrell set the pace with their lifts and other teammates followed suit. The Penn team headed in to the summer on a high and with their sites set on capturing another Ivy League title. – Rob Long

Thank you to all of those that supported these exciting and meaningful events. The summer events schedule for our FBS Chapters is in the works.

Enduring neuroblastoma diagnosis with daughter Leah helped Devon Still find a purpose and passion for life after football


RARE DISEASE SPOTLIGHT GRAPHICThere are more than 7,000 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: Neuroblastoma

Brief Description: A childhood or pediatric form of cancer that occurs in the abdomen near the adrenal glands, but it can also occur in other parts of the body. It is often present at birth but may not be detected until later in infancy or childhood. The symptoms of a neuroblastoma may include a lump in the abdomen, pain, diarrhea, or generally feeling unwell. It affects one out of 100,000 children. The exact cause of this tumor is not yet known. Treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and stem cell transplant, and it can be cured when diagnosed at an early stage.

Rare Connection: Former Penn State All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Devon Still was battling through his own injury issues to keep his NFL career alive when his then 4-year-old daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with the rare disease neuroblastoma. Leah’s diagnosis made playing football irrelevant to Still. At that moment, he was prepared to walk away from the game to be with his daughter full-time, but realized keeping his health insurance was best for her. With the support of the Cincinnati Bengals, Still decided to use his platform as an NFL player to shine a spotlight on pediatric cancer. Devon used social media to document Leah’s battle with neuroblastoma, quickly raised more than $1 million for research through jersey sales, and the inspiring duo was awarded the Jimmy V Award at the 2015 ESPYs. As a member of the Penn State Chapter during his Nittany Lions career, Still reached out to Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Scott Shirley shortly after Leah’s diagnosis. Scott was a source of support and together they launched a Pledge It campaign to raise funds for research. Leah has been in remission for three years, and after stops in Houston and New York, Still retired from the NFL after the 2017 season. Leah is healthy today, but Devon is far from done using his platform to help others. Since retiring, he launched the Still Strong Foundation to help families with children fighting pediatric cancers and to share his story and hopefully motivate others to fight through their challenges. In Devon’s words he wants to “have an impact that goes well beyond the football field.”

Patient Groups: Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society.

Getting Social: Twitter: @CncfHope, @AmericanCancer. Facebook: CNCF Hope, American Cancer Society.

Learn More: There are two FDA approved treatments for neuroblastoma, Adreview and Unituxin, and more than 500 clinical trials. To learn more about clinical trials go here. Some of the most well-respected resources inside the rare disease community include National Institute of Health (NIH), National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and Global Genes.

 

 

NFL teams welcome 29 players who gave back during Reps For Rare Diseases campaign


NFL DRAFT-RFRD 18 GRAPHICLess than 1 percent of high school football players actually go on to sign a professional NFL contract.

Those who climb to the top of the football ladder and take the final step from NFL prospect to being drafted or signed are in rare air.

Earlier this year, Uplifting Athletes had 38 of these rare air former college football student-athletes extended their platform as NFL prospects by giving back in support of the Rare Disease Community.

When the stakes were the highest, these NFL prospects made a choice to pledge their performance at either the NFL Combine or individual University Pro Day workouts to help raise awareness and funds in support of Uplifting Athletes’ mission.

Of the 38 NFL prospects who participated in our 2018 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign, 29 of them took that final step and now have the opportunity to continue their football careers in the NFL.

“Congratulations to each and every one of these 29 men for earning this rare opportunity,” said Uplifting Athletes Director of Chapter Development Brett Brackett, who played in the NFL. “To those that give, much is received. It is a just reward that those who took the time to elevate the cause in support of the Rare Disease Community get the opportunity to join a rare fraternity of men to sign an NFL contract after college.

“We wish each and every one of you good health, great success and to always do good with the platform bestowed upon you.”

Of the 29 players that took part in the Reps For Rare Diseases campaign this past March 12 of them were drafted and 17 were signed as undrafted free agents.

That group included a pair of first-round picks including one Top 10 selection, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame who was drafted No. 9 overall by the San Francisco 49ers. Someone that participated in Reps For Rare Diseases 2018 was drafted in every round except the third round.

Collectively this group raised nearly $39,000 in support of Uplifting Athletes mission through our four programs – Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Princeton Chapter annual Lift For Life on deck May 8th and will feature an offense vs. defense bench press competition


PRINCETON L4L 18 GRAPHICThe Princeton Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the rare disease community on Tuesday, May 8th outside the Trist Student Center starting at 4:45 p.m.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

“It is an honor to be able to use our platform to help raise awareness and support Uplifting Athletes and the rare disease community,” said Princeton Chapter President and Tigers offensive lineman Andre Guest. “We are all proud to be part of a team that is working so hard to tackle rare diseases.”

The 2018 Princeton Chapter Lift For Life is a competition pitting the Offense vs. Defense to see which side of the ball can average the most bench press repetitions during Lift For Life.

Fans and supporters can make a pledge for every bench press repetition a particular team averages during the event. So pick your favorite side of the ball and support that team by visiting the Princeton Chapter Lift For Life fundraising site.

The proceeds from Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Today, the challenges faced by the rare disease community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Princeton Chapter, along with a nationwide network of teams, is uniquely positioned to educate and engage the local community to shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

The Princeton Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2011 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led Princeton Chapter serves the rare disease community in honor of Jordan Culbreath, a former Tigers running back.

Culbreath was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder and battled through his rare disease diagnosis to return to the field and finish his playing career. His inspiring story of hope not only led his Princeton teammates to form a chapter, Culbreath was also honored as the 2011 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion.

Please support the Princeton Chapter and help the Tigers reach their impressive $10,000 team Lift For Life goal.

Colgate Chapter set to hold Lift For Life April 26 featuring a bench press competition between offense and defense


COLGATE L4L 18 GRAPHIC NEWThe Colgate Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the rare disease community on Thursday, April 26th.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

The 2018 Colgate Chapter Lift For Life is a competition pitting the Offense vs. Defense to see who can average the most bench press repetitions during Lift For Life.

“Life for Life and Uplifting Athletes is an important part of the Colgate Football experience. Our program is proud to be inspiring the Rare Disease Community with hope thorough the power of sport,” said Raiders wide receiver and Colgate Chapter President Owen Buscaglia said. “Colgate football aims to raise awareness and will continue to fight for this great cause.”

Fans and supporters can make a pledge for every bench press repetition a particular team averages during the event. So pick your favorite side of the ball and support that team by visiting the Colgate Chapter Lift For Life fundraising page.

The proceeds from Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Today, the challenges faced by the rare disease community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Colgate Chapter, along with a nationwide network of teams, is uniquely positioned to educate and engage the local community to shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

The Colgate Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2008 when it joined Uplifting Athletes, becoming the second chapter to join the Uplifting Athletes network. The Raiders have been pillars of light in the community during that time, using their platform in honor of former offensive coach Casey Vogt and others that continue to battle rare diseases.

Please support the Colgate Chapter and help the Raiders reach their impressive $2,000 team Lift For Life goal.

Mitchell Meyers came all the way back from 18-month battle with a rare disease to play his final season at Iowa State and win the 2017 Rare Disease Champion Award


RARE DISEASE SPOTLIGHT GRAPHIC

There are more than 7,000 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: Hodgkin’s disease

Brief Description: Hodgkin’s disease is one of a group of cancers known as a lymphoma – a general term used to describe cancers that affect the lymphatic system, especially the lymph nodes. Tumors often form in the lymph nodes and/or the area around the nodes. The exact cause of Hodgkin’s disease is unknown, but some classic symptoms include fever, night sweats, and weight loss may occur along with swollen lymph nodes. Hodgkin’s disease affects the tissues and lymph nodes of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system, consists of a complex series of thin vessels that are similar to blood vessels and run throughout the body. Treatment of Hodgkin’s disease depends on the stage of the disease. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the two main treatment options.

Rare Connection: Former Iowa State defensive lineman Mitchell Meyers became the ninth winner of the Rare Disease Champion award in 2017. Meyers endured a long and difficult 18-month journey with the rare disease Hodgkin’s lymphoma. An impact player in 2013 and 2014 for the Cyclones football team, Meyers lost his 2015 season when he was diagnosed in February of that year. He left school and returned home to Texas to begin his fight. He vowed to his teammates he would return for the 2016 season. During his 13 months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Meyers suffered a serious setback when he became one of those rare patients who had a relapse. He went through a stem cell transplant early in 2016, and playing football again became less of a reality with each passing month. But Meyers never gave up. He did what he could to keep his body in shape, despite losing more than 50 pounds, with the commitment to overcome the odds and play again. Just prior to preseason camp for the 2016 season, Meyers hard work paid off and he was cleared to practice.   But he had been away from the game for 18 months. With nothing promised to him by the coaching staff other than an opportunity to compete, Meyers went out and won a starting job at defensive end and served as an inspiration for his Cyclone teammates. He was voted as a team captain for the 2017 Iowa State team and wore the No. 58 for the Cyclones that year. Each season Iowa State hands the No. 58 jersey to a lineman who best embodies the spirit of a beloved former coach who died suddenly in 2014. Meyers not only earned a starting spot, he became a big-time contributor up front defensively for the Cyclones, playing in all 12 games, recording 30 tackles and becoming an Academic All-Big 12 selection. Currently, Meyers is working for Houston-based Crane Logistics in their year-long Leadership Development Trainee program.

Patient Groups: American Cancer Society, Cancer Support Community, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Research Foundation.

Getting Social: Twitter: @AmericanCancer, @CancerSupportHQ, @LLSusa, @lymphoma. Facebook: American Cancer Society, Cancer Support Community, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Community.

Learn More: There is one FDA approved treatments for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Leukine. To learn more about clinical trials go here. Currently there are more than 1,100 active clinical trials for Hodgkin’s disease. Some of the most well-respected resources inside the rare disease community include National Institute of Health (NIH), National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and Global Genes.