The Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award, part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), is given annually to a leader in college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the Rare Disease Community.
We afforded each finalist for the 11th Rare Disease Champion Award the opportunity to be featured in our Beyond The Finalist series.
Name: Nick Allegretti
University: University of Illinois
Position: Offensive Line
What about your journey do you always make sure to share when telling your story?
Allegretti: When my brother was diagnosed with his rare disease, I was extremely scared to hear the word cancer and as a young child and I was afraid of all of the negative things that would come with it. However, the doctors and my parents assured me that the treatment plan would get rid of his tumor and there would be nothing to worry about. I believed in this and after years of battling my brother was cured. As a naïve child I believed that this was how all illnesses worked and I did not realize that many people were turned away without a treatment plan. When I realized this, I finally understood how important the work that Uplifting Athletes is doing was to the Rare Disease Community and I knew that I had to help in any way possible.
Can you tell us your ‘welcome to college football (either as a player or coach) moment’?
Allegretti: I can remember the first time we had “optional workouts” over my first summer. In high school I played many sports and had multiple extra curriculars that would conflict with certain sports optional workouts. As a college athlete you have school and then football, and if it’s not class…it’s not a conflict.
What is the one piece of advice or encouragement that’s stuck with you over time? Who gave it to you and what is it?
Allegretti: As a true freshman we were playing a game at Nebraska, which is an electric environment and I remember our offensive coordinator, Bill Cubit, telling us before the game to enjoy the moment and realize the magnitude of the event. From that game on I always tried to take a few seconds out of every game to truly understand how special playing college football is and how much it has meant to me.
What is your favorite movie and why?
Allegretti: Four Brothers – It is a movie about a group of four adopted brothers trying to avenge their mother’s death. I have probably seen some better movies before, but the connection that the brothers share is similar to the relationship that I have with my brother. And the family aspect of the movie, although quite violent, is one of a kind.
If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
Allegretti: Alexander Hamilton – He is one of the founding fathers of our country and the first ever Secretary of Treasury and is largely responsible for the beginning of our country’s monetary system. As a coin collector that would go on the study and collect this system, I am very appreciative.
Your favorite aspect of being a part of college football?
Allegretti: My favorite part about being a college football player is the camaraderie that is built with your teammates. When you commit to a university, you usually know very few players and their backgrounds but by the end of your time you have built hundreds of relationships with people you never would have met without college football. And a lot of these relationships will last for life.
Last few songs you downloaded?
Allegretti: My Top 5 songs: The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band; It’s a Great Day to Be Alive – Travis Tritt; In Color – Jamie Johnson; Watching You – Rodney Atkins; Springsteen – Eric Church
What would winning the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award mean to you?
Allegretti: Winning this award would mean the world to me. From working with uplifting athletes over the past four years I have met some incredible people and heard some unbelievable stories within the organization. I have also learned how helpful Uplifting Athletes is for the Rare Disease Community and how important it is to spread the word to continue battling rare diseases. To be able to represent this organization and community as the Rare Disease Champion would be an incredible honor.