Rare diseases get a day in the sun at 14th annual Penn State Chapter Lift For Life


A sun-splashed Saturday greeted Nittany Lions fans for the 14th annual Uplifting Athletes Penn State Chapter Lift For Life event at the lacrosse field on campus.

The packed grandstand full of blue and white clad spectators was treated to a nearly 90-minute workout by the 2016 Penn State football team in support of the rare disease community.

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

Each Uplifting Athletes Chapter has its own unique rare disease inspiration, but also serves as a teammate for the rare disease community to help inspire others with hope through the power of sport.

The Penn State Chapter is the charter Uplifting Athletes Chapter and started what has become a nationwide movement in 2003.

Proceeds from the Penn State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes annual Lift For Life supports rare disease research and patient focused programs. The 2016 Lift For Life raised nearly $75,000 and the total for Penn State over 14 years is more than $1.2 million.

“I just want to thank all the fans who came out for the event and everyone who supported us with donations that help the rare disease community,” Penn State Chapter President and DE Garrett Sickels said. “It’s an honor to be the leader of Uplifting Athletes’ Penn State Chapter. This cause started by Scott Shirley 15 years ago still matters. And it’s important to me and my teammates.”

The 2016 Penn State Lift For Life consisted of five events between teams of offensive players versus defensive players. There was a 225-pound bench press competition, sled push, tire flip, obstacle course, and head-to-head farmers carry. Every player competed in one or two events before the tug-a-war finished off the workout.

“It’s a great event for me personally, for sure,” center Brian Gaia said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to keep the tradition alive that Scott Shirley started 15 years ago to raise money for rare diseases and get out here and compete a little bit.”

During the Lift For Life, the Penn State Chapter also conducted a kids clinic run by the incoming Nittany Lions freshman class. Additionally, the Penn State Police Department had a patrol car on hand and the Centre LifeLink EMS brought along an ambulance for kids to explore.


Former Penn State Nittany Lions Ben Kline and Austin Johnson enjoy a laugh at the 14th annual Uplifting Athletes Penn State Chapter Lift For Life.

Recent Nittany Lions football alumni Ben Kline, the former Penn State Chapter President, Jesse James, Carl Nassib, Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel all returned to campus for the 2016 Lift For Life.

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

“This is my first year being involved with Uplifting Athletes and I’ve learned a lot about what this organization is,” Penn State quarterback and Chapter leader Trace McSorley said. “We put in a lot of hard work this summer to put on a great event to support the rare disease community. It’s good to see it come to fruition.”

At the end of the event, all fans and spectators were ushered onto the field and handed a new 2016 team poster for the autograph session.

2016 Penn State Chapter Lift For Life Photo Gallery (PennLive)

14th annual Lift For Life stays fresh for founder, Penn State football players (Centre Daily Times)

Penn State football players stage annual Lift For Life event (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Penn State players lift for a good cause (Reading Eagle Times)

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