Former Nebraska fullback C.J. Zimmerer soaks up Maxwell Awards Gala atmosphere as 2014 Rare Disease Champion


Nebraska's C.J. Zimmerer (center) flanked by Maxwell Football Club President Ron Jaworksi and Bednarik Award winner Aaron Donald from Pitt.

Nebraska’s C.J. Zimmerer (center) flanked by Maxwell Football Club President Ron Jaworksi and Bednarik Award winner Aaron Donald from Pitt.

Shortly after landing in Philadelphia Thursday afternoon, former Nebraska fullback C.J. Zimmerer said the only other times he visited the Keystone State was to play Penn State in State College twice.

So instead of heading straight to Atlantic City for the Maxwell Awards Gala that kicked off Thursday evening with a VIP reception, we took a little side tour with Zimmerer and his girlfriend, Kim, to downtown Philadelphia to give them a little taste of the history surrounding the City of Brotherly Love before heading east on the A-C Expressway.

With the Maxwell Football Club moving its awards gala to Revel Resorts this year, there was a fresh feel to this two-day extravaganza celebrating football at all levels by the oldest football club in the country.

“It’s a great honor to come out to an event like this. I’ve heard of the Maxwell Football Club before, but you don’t hear too much about it in the midwest out in Nebraska,” said Zimmerer, who when he checked in thought his hotel room was on the fourth floor of Revel, but discovered it was on the 47th floor of this massive resort and casino.

“So I’ve learned a lot in the couple days I’ve been here about what a big stage this is, and what it means to be honored as the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion at an event like this. It’s national recognition and it’s a great honor for me to be part of it. Being on the east coast is definitely a lot different than Nebraska. I’m just trying to soak it all in as best I can.”

Uplifting Athletes is partners with Maxwell Football Club and uses the stage of this awards gala to not only honor our Rare Disease Champion, but also share the message of how college football players and programs are having an impact and inspiring patients in the rare disease community with hope.

Zimmerer played a major role in the planning of the 69-yard touchdown run by Nebraska fan and pediatric brain cancer survivor Jack Hoffman last April during the Huskers’ spring game in Lincoln.

It was a run that touched the hearts of a nation – simple in its purpose yet massive in its result with more than 8 million views on YouTube – and provided the rare disease of pediatric brain cancer with a national platform.

And although Zimmerer isn’t a recognizable face to the Maxwell Football Club community, when his story is given a platform his recognition is almost instantaneous.

“People here don’t know who I am. But when I mention Team Jack and the touchdown run, it’s synonymous. And they know exactly what I’m talking about,” Zimmerer said. “So it’s great to be able to share with them how Uplifting Athletes was a part of that and how big something little like that can become big and spread the word across the country about helping those in the rare disease community.”

Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Scott Shirley and Nebraska's C.J. Zimmerer at Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala inside Revel Resorts.

Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Scott Shirley and Nebraska’s C.J. Zimmerer at Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala inside Revel Resorts.

Zimmerer will be presented his trophy as the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion live Friday night on ESPN3 starting at 8:30 p.m. Former Boston College and current New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich, whose likeness is the inspiration for the trophy, is in Atlantic City to present the award to Zimmerer live to a worldwide audience.

The entire Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala will be broadcast on ESPN3. We are not exactly sure what time Zimmerer and Herzlich will take center stage Friday night, but it will be sometime between 8:30-10 p.m.

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