You could feel the electricity in the air Saturday on campus as the Princeton football team prepared to host rival Penn in the final game of the season.
The Tigers were on the cusp of an undefeated season and claiming the Ivy League championship.
Saturday was also a special day for the Rare Disease Community inside Princeton Stadium.
The leaders of the Uplifting Athletes chapters at each university picked this match-up to serve as a Rare Disease Awareness Game to show their ongoing support for the rare disease cause.
Players from each team wore Uplifting Athletes stickers on their helmets and pulled on blue #WeTackleRare wristbands in a show of unified support for the Rare Disease Community each chapter champions.
And with the help of Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long and Director Sports Impact Brett Brackett, the Masciantonio family from The For The Love Of Grace Foundation was able to attend their first college football game together.
It was a busy Saturday in Princeton, New Jersey.
Gianna Masciantonio is a 4-year-old rare disease patient who is diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. Her parents, Joe and Kristen, started the For The Love Of Grace Foundation in honor of their daughter.
“We wanted to help others in the same situation,” Kristen Masciantonio said. “We give 100 percent of what we raise to research and to help families. We don’t have any overhead. I mean, who can you not help other families, right?”
In between the first and second quarters Gianna, her older brother Dominic, Joe and Kristen and Uplifting Athletes staff were recognized on the field as an extension of the hard work Princeton and Penn football programs put forth to support the Rare Disease Community.
“People just don’t fully understand what families like ours and others like ours go through,” Kristen Masciantonio said. “This is an important part of the support we need to feel. Support is important.”
Princeton went on to beat Penn to complete their perfect season and hoist the trophy as Ivy League champions. On the field they are competitors, but off the field the Tigers and Quakers football student-athletes share a common bond of shining a spotlight on the Rare Disease Community.
Thank you to the athletic departments at Princeton and Penn for supporting the football student-athletes of each chapter to make this a special day that extends well beyond 60 minutes of football.