Meet the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team


Uplifting Athletes is pleased to announce the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team.

For 12 years, Uplifting Athletes has recognized a Rare Disease Champion. Starting in 2019, the focus of the Rare Disease Champion Award shifts from highlighting an individual leader in college football to a team concept that provides an opportunity to recognize leaders in college football that have made a positive and lasting impact on the Rare Disease Community. 

The five members of the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion team are: Kent State wide receiver Antwan Dixon, Davidson linebacker George Hatalowich, Syracuse offensive lineman Sam Heckel, Penn student assistant Anthony Lotti and Kentucky linebacker Josh Paschal.

Uplifting Athletes couldn’t be more proud to share these inspiring rare disease stories of leaders in college football.

“We feel strongly that our obligation to the Rare Disease Community is to share the powerful and compelling stories of people inside college football who have lived the rare disease journey, as patients and advocates,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “I believe this will be the start of a tradition recognizing those in college football who are inspiring, serving and supporting those who need it the most.”

The Rare Disease Champion Team powered by Sanofi Genzyme is an Uplifting Athletes awareness campaign that is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The Rare Disease Champion Team will be celebrated at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. on March 6, 2020 and at Uplifting Athletes’ Young Investigator Draft at Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia March 7, 2020.

Nominees for the award were solicited from any NCAA FBS, FCS, Division II or Division III institution or college football program nationwide.

Past Rare Disease Champion winners consist of seven FBS players including USC long snapper Jake Olson (2016), UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin (2018) and Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates (2015), one FCS player, a Division III quarterback, an FBS assistant coach and an administrator from AFCA. 

Former Austin Peay State University Offensive Coordinator and current University of Kansas Assistant Coach Joshua Eargle was honored as the winner of the Rare Disease Champion Award last year.

The Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935.

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