When Nebraska paid a visit to State College last season to play Penn State in the initial match-up as members of the Big Ten, the emotion in Beaver Stadium was sky high as the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal had just begun.
The focus for players on each team is vastly different 12 months later as they prepare for Saturday afternoon’s meeting at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. The atmosphere will be much different, as Penn State and Nebraska have become comrades in the fight against rare diseases with Uplifting Athletes.
Penn State is playing through its first season under NCAA sanctions. Nebraska continues to chase down a berth in a bowl game despite an up-and-down campaign laced with injuries to key players – including running back Rex Burkhead.
But despite those struggles, each of these tradition-rich programs can be proud of the accomplishments they have made off the field through Uplifting Athletes.
Penn State’s Chapter, the oldest of the 14 in the Uplifting Athletes stable, raised more than $115,000 this year for kidney cancer research. And Nebraska’s Chapter, the most recent to form, is expected to do the same for pediatric brain cancer.
CJ Zimmerer, current Nebraska Chapter President, said that Burkhead’s relationship with Jack Hoffman, a 7-year-old boy fighting pediatric brain cancer, inspired the team to do as much as they could to help.
“To see how one person could impact a family’s life so much it was a no brainer for our team to get involved with Uplifting Athletes,” said Zimmerer. “If one person could make a difference, a group of 50 like we have involved with Uplifting Athletes could make a major impact on thousands of young kids like Jack Hoffman.”
Mike Farrell, Penn State Chapter President, shared a similar sentiment. “We are given a great opportunity as college football players to make an impact off the field,” he said. “Through Uplifting Athletes, we are able to do that. The money we have raised has helped bring new treatments for kidney cancer to market, which is exciting for all of us.”
Nebraska and Penn State – two college football programs working hard to help others – will collectively raise more than $200,000 in one year. “Raising this much money to research individual rare diseases while elevating awareness for the overall cause is a major victory for this underserved community,” added Scott Shirley, Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes.
The Nebraska team has raised funds through its “Team Jack” T-shirt sales in honor of Jack Hoffman – a 7-year-old boy who is battling pediatric brain cancer. In July Penn State held its 10th Lift For Life in front of thousands of Nittany Lion fans.
Please visit www.UpliftingAthletes.org to learn how you can support your favorite chapter.