Each of the seven finalists for the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award will have their story featured here. In order to vote for the next Rare Disease Champion, please visit our voting page here. The winner will be announced on February 1st.
College: Penn State University
Rare disease connection: Eric is the vice president and one of the leaders for Penn State’s record breaking Uplifting Athletes chapter. The Nittany Lions raise funds and awareness for kidney cancer. Shrive has raised more money as part of Lift For Life the last three years than any other member of the Penn State chapter.
His Story: Often times the new kid on a college campus will join an organization to get involved and meet new people.
Penn State’s Eric Shrive wanted to do that and make difference, which is why he got involved with Uplifting Athletes.
The Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athlete was started in 2003 and raises money for kidney cancer awareness and research. In 10 years, the chapter has raised nearly $700,000. Shrive is a large part of that.
“When you’re a Penn State football player, you have the opportunity to give back,” Shrive said. “I’ve worked extremely hard to do that.”
Instead of standing idly by on the sidelines as the upperclassmen in raised money, Shrive immediately made an impact. He raised $3,500 in his first year on the team and another $8,000 the following year.
But he was only just getting started.
“I just kept setting higher goals for myself,” Shrive said. “I wrote handwritten letters to more than 200 donors, asking for a contribution.”
Shrive’s efforts are impressive; he has created a game plan, reaching out to family, friends, local businesses and businesses back in hometown. In 2011, he raised $26,000 himself, while this past summer he added $32,000. He sets the bar higher every year and, every year, he’s obtained his goal. With one year left of eligibility, Eric Shrive has raised close to $70,000 to fight kidney cancer.
“I’ve taken marketing classes and have learned about adding new strategies to approach new donors,” Shrive said. “I’m constantly thinking of new people to ask for help.”
But it isn’t just about raising money for Shrive.
His quest to fight kidney cancer, along with that of his teammates, has become personal. In the summer of 2011, while home for the weekend, Shrive learned his uncle was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“Certainly, that was a motivating factor,” Shrive said. “Other cancers get more attention. We’re trying to save lives and I know my family is extremely appreciative of my efforts.”
Eric believes his uncle will beat kidney cancer, but he also knows his work is not done. With one year left at Penn State, Eric hopes to make it his best.
He will likely take over as the chapter president since he’s been the vice president for the past two years. He hopes to lead by example and motivated his teammates to raise as much money as they can.
“I’d love to be able to say, ‘I raised $100,000 to fight kidney cancer,’” Shrive said.
In a 5-year span, that’s more than impressive. Since joining Uplifting Athletes as a freshman to meet people to now leading his teammates’ charge in fighting this rare disease, Eric’s work is inspirational.
“For me, it makes me feel wonderful,” Shrive said. “There are new kidney cancer treatments on the market and I’d like to think we are a reason for that.”
Eric Shrive is an offensive lineman for the Nittany Lions. He’s also gone on the offensive in finding a cure for kidney cancer.