Still Strong: The Uplifting Athletes ESPY Winners


For the third time since 2011, an ESPY Award will go to a winner with a tie to rare diseases and Uplifting Athletes.

Tonight at the annual awards show hosted by ESPN, former Penn State and current Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still will accept the Jimmy V. Perseverance Award on behalf of his daughter, Leah Still.

For more than a year, Leah Still has been fighting neuroblastoma – a rare form of childhood cancer. Leah was not healthy enough to travel with the Still family to Los Angeles to accept the award, but her father will be on stage Wednesday night.

The story of the Still’s rare disease journey captured the attention of the nation in the 13 months since Leah’s diagnosis. Devon, who participated in Lift For Life as part of the Penn State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes, and his Cincinnati Bengals teammates ran a #SackCancer campaign to benefit research through Leah was diagnosed as cancer-free earlier this year, but a recent setback that involved her immune system prevented her from making the trip to Los Angeles.

Jack Hoffman, part of the inspiration for the Nebraska Chapter of Uplifting Athletes, won his ESPY for Best Moment of 2013. Jack’s 69-yard run during the Nebraska spring game quickly went viral and gave pediatric brain cancer a much larger platform that included a visit to President Barack Obama at the White House.

In 2011, Mark Herzlich won an ESPY as the Best Comeback Athlete for winning his enormous battle with the rare disease Ewing’s Sarcoma and returning to play his senior season for Boston College. Herzlich, the Honorary Chairman of Uplifting Athletes, has continued to be an ambassador for rare diseases during his 5-year NFL career with the New York Giants that included a Super Bowl victory his rookie season.

Congratulations to Leah and Devon for their 2015 ESPY award, and thanks to Mark and Jack for continuing to be symbols of hope for the rare disease community!

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