UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin became the 10th winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award.
Griffin earned more votes than any of the other three 2018 finalists in a public online vote that started last month and saw more than 10,000 total votes cast.
The Knights’ senior outlasted a field of finalists that included: Minnesota holder Casey O’Brien, Louisiana Tech running back Jaqwis Dancy and Syracuse quarterback Zack Mahoney.
“Congratulations to Shaquem on becoming this season’s Rare Disease Champion. His uplifting story embodies the spirit of all the finalists and nominees,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Scott Shirley said. “All of our champions have had a unique way of leveraging their personal experiences to make a positive impact on the rare disease community and I’m proud of Shaquem leading by example.”
The Rare Disease Champion Award is presented annually by Uplifting Athletes to a leader in the world of college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.
Griffin will be presented the 2018 Rare Disease Champion trophy at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 9th at The Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City.
A Florida native, Griffin was born with the rare disorder amniotic band syndrome. As a youngster, Griffin tried to “play through” the pain. But, the pain became unbearable and the decision was made to remove his left hand when he was four years old.
In every phase of life, Griffin refused to let his rare disease to slow him down or hold him back — especially on the football field as a Knight. The star linebacker was named the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. This season he was nominated for the Allstate Good Works Team that honors football student-athletes for their community service, as well as, the Butkus, Nagurski and Bednarik awards for his play on the field for the undefeated Knights.
Griffin works with Limbitless Solutions at UCF to help children who have a need for prosthetic limbs. He also speaks to children with disabilities of all types as often as possible, and he performs a great deal of community service work not tied to his particular rare disease.