Chapter Update: Northwestern opens season with a bang and two other teams pick up Week 7 victories


Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald earned his 100th victory as the Wildcats’ skipper behind a balanced offense led by Indiana transfer Peyton Ramsey and a defense that surrendered only a first-quarter field goal to fellow chapter school Maryland.

The 40-point margin of victory is the ‘Cats’ largest against a Big Ten opponent since 1970 when Northwestern beat Illinois 48-0. Ramsey accounted for 259 total yards (212 passing, 47 rushing) and two touchdowns. He completed 23 passes, the most completions by a Northwestern quarterback in his first start since Gavin Hoffman in 1999.

Maryland Chapter leader, running back Jake Funk, led the Terrapins with 35 rushing yards on six carries and added nine more yards receiving on a pair of receptions. Northwestern Chapter Vice President, defensive lineman Joe Spivak, finished with one tackle on defense and also lined up on offense at fullback on the goal line.

Notre Dame: For the first time since 2012 the No. 3 ranked Fighting Irish held back-to-back opponents to fewer than 10 points with a road victory at Pittsburgh. Quarterback Ian Book finished with 312 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, while the Irish defense limited the Panthers to a first-quarter field goal and only 162 yards of total offense. With a three-yard run early in the second quarter, Book became just the second quarterback in Notre Dame history to eclipse the 8,000 total offensive yards plateau in his career – joining Brady Quinn ‘07 (11,944). Notre Dame Chapter President, linebacker Drew White, finished with two tackles and was in on a tackle for a loss as well.

Clemson: The top-ranked Tigers were in a tight spot with fellow chapter school Syracuse at home before Clemson’s defense took control with a momentum-swinging strip-sack in the third quarter that was returned for a touchdown by Andrew Booth, Jr. Clemson Chapter President, punter Will Spiers, not only celebrated his 23rd birthday on game day but averaged 53.6 yards on five punts, including four of 50 yards or more. It was his third straight game with a punting average of 50.0 yards or more, a career-long streak. He tied his career long with a 64-yard bomb in the first quarter. Spiers also converted a fourth-and-3 on a fake punt with a six-yard rush in the second quarter. It was his third career first down on a fake punt but his first via a rush. Syracuse Chapter President, long snapper Aaron Bolinsky, handled all the Orange long snap duties.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions rallied to take an eight-point lead late in regulation before Indiana tied it late in regulation and won it in the first overtime by narrowly scoring on a two-point conversion by quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. Former Penn State Chapter President, quarterback Sean Clifford, accounted for 357 yards of total offense (238 passing, 119 rushing) and four touchdowns.

Round-Up: NC State struggled in its first game without their regular starting quarterback, Devin Leary who is out for the season. The Wolfpack fell behind North Carolina on the road 17-7 at halftime before the Tar Heels ripped off 21 unanswered points to start the second half. … Playing for the first time in three weeks because of pandemic issues, Baylor saw its offense show plenty of rust for three quarters before finding its way in the fourth quarter at Texas. The Bears had nearly half of their 316 yards in the fourth quarter and scored twice. … Illinois Chapter President, offensive lineman Alex Palczewski, started his 37th consecutive game for the Fighting Illini in a road loss to Wisconsin. … Florida State saw Louisville score on its first five possessions to fall behind 31-14 at halftime and never recovered. … Georgia Tech turned it over early and fell behind 24-0 at Boston College. The Yellow Jackets were outgained by only 47 total yards, but lost the turnover battle 3-0 and had 10 penalties.

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This week we feature Maryland running back and Chapter President Jake Funk.

Chapter Update: NC State rallies late to upset No. 24 Pitt and two other teams pick up Week 4 victories


NC State redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Leary made his first start of the season a memorable one by guiding the Wolfpack on a late scoring drive and tossing a touchdown pass in the final minute to Emeka Emeze that completed a one-point upset at No. 24 Pitt.

Leary marched the Wolfpack 79 yards in eight plays for the winning score after Pitt took a 29-24 lead with 1:44 to play. Leary finished with 336 yards through the air and four touchdown passes.

In a back-and-forth game that featured more than 900 yards of total offense and zero turnovers, penalties played a huge role. Pitt was penalized 13 times for 125 yards and eight of the Wolfpack’s 28 first downs came via penalties.

Clemson: The Tigers extended their winning streak on Saturdays to 46, passing the 1953-57 Oklahoma Sooners for the longest such streak in FBS history by taking out Virginia at home. QB Trevor Lawrence threw for 329 and three touchdowns. RB Travis Etienne rang up 187 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns. Etienne set a Clemson record for receiving yardage by a running back with 114 yards on five receptions. He broke C.J. Spiller’s running back record of 108 yards from 2008, and is only the second running back in Clemson history to surpass 100 receiving yards in a game.

Florida State: Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jordan Travis came off the bench and guided the Seminoles to five consecutive scoring drives to rally the Seminoles to a come-from-behind victory over FCS Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks led 21-14 at halftime. It was FSU’s first win for new head coach Mike Norvell. Florida State Chapter Leader Keyshawn Helton had 162 all-purpose yards and a touchdown for the Seminoles. Helton had three catches for 53 yards and totaled 109 on four kickoff returns including a pair of 30-plus yard returns.

Baylor: The Bears couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities in regulation on the road at West Virginia and fell in double overtime to the Mountaineers. Baylor missed three  field goals and was stopped on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard-line in the fourth quarter trailing 14-7. The Bears forced four turnovers, but misfired on first-half field goal attempts from 46 and 48 yards and had a 51-yard attempt on the final play of the first half blocked.

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This week we feature Illinois offensive lineman and Chapter President Alex Palczewski.

Why support rare now?


Nearly 30 million Americans are living with a rare disease and  COVID-19 continues to present a myriad of challenges that is not only impacting the patients but their families and caregivers as well.

At the top of the list is reduced access to vital medical care which, in turn, has exacerbated already existing challenges. Among those already existing challenges include an accurate diagnosis of a complex disease, limited treatment protocol options, financial struggles, absence of hope and mental fatigue for patients, families and caregivers. 

“I don’t think you need to have a rare disease to have had all of this impact you mentally,” said Dr. Justin Hopkin, the father of a son with a rare disease and a rare disease advocate. “Managing the mental aspect of all this has been difficult for everybody. Finances, jobs, social issues … all those things have weighed heavily on most of us, but we know it’s been especially hard on those living with a rare disease.”

The isolation some Americans are feeling as we navigate the obstacle course of this pandemic is how some rare disease patients feel everyday. 

Since March, medical research on diseases other than COVID-19 has taken a huge hit. There have been countless research studies abandoned, suspended or postponed. 

Much is still unanswered about the ultimate impact the pandemic will have on clinical trials, too. That’s because it is unclear how many of these studies will eventually restart and how long it will be before they begin again.

Clinical trials play a critical role physically and mentally for rare disease patients. They show researchers and doctors what does and doesn’t work, and are a critical vehicle for rare disease patients to receive or obtain life altering therapy.

A clinical trial being delayed, interrupted or canceled can be a tipping point for a rare disease patient . They don’t have the luxury in most cases of multiple clinical trials. And the delay, interruption or cancelation of that trial jeopardizes any hope they might have had and could even be life threatening.

All this is going to lead to a healthcare system already pushed to its extreme limits by this pandemic becoming backed up and slowed even more. And it will directly and adversely impact a Rare Disease Community that faces an uphill climb under optimal conditions.

“Like everyone else, what we are hearing from the patients in our community has been tough,” said Kathi Luis, a rare disease advocate. “There was a lot of hopelessness, without their rehab, medication, treatments, clinical trials delayed or canceled … they didn’t have any hope. They are really defeated.”

In April, the National Organization For Rare Diseases (NORD) reached out to patients to gauge the best way to guide support and help for the Rare Disease Community.

Nearly 800 people responded to the survey from NORD’s research team and the results were made public last month.

95 percent of the respondents said they have been impacted at a cost to both their immediate and long-term health and well-being. Nearly three-quarters have had a medical appointment canceled and, of those, 65 percent were offered an alternative appointment via phone or video. 69 percent of the respondents have concerns about medication and medical supply shortages.

“Treating rare and medically complex cases like mine takes multimodal approaches. Remove one piece of the puzzle and the care patients receive results in sub-optimal outcomes. COVID-19 further exposed a glaring problem in the healthcare system by asking us what defines essential medical treatments,” said Marni Cartelli, a rare disease patient. “What if a treatment on its face doesn’t keep someone alive but is supplemental to one that does? Also, we must ask ourselves, is keeping someone alive the only essential medical service? What about keeping someone’s ability to feed themselves? These are all questions I ask myself every single day but society only had to ask itself in this pandemic.”

The time for action to support the Rare Disease Community is now. As we all adjust to what is the most recent new normal, the mental fatigue associated with the unknown for rare disease patients continues.

Uplifting Athletes is uniquely positioned to inspire hope in the Rare Disease Community. The 7,000 Mile Challenge is a way for YOU to get active and rally support for the rare diseases this summer.

Inaugural 7,000 Mile Challenge to support the Rare Disease Community set for July 17-26


Uplifting Athletes is proud to announce the inaugural 7,000 Mile Challenge – a 10-day event starting July 17th that will bring focus and attention to the more than 7,000 known rare diseases.

People affected by a rare disease are fighting against a finite clock that didn’t stop because of COVID-19. We’re letting the Rare Disease Community know that we won’t stop fighting for them!

“We are rallying our extensive network behind one initiative this summer so that we can continue to support our friends and partners in the Rare Disease Community,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “Our team has worked hard to find a way to afford everyone the opportunity to take action and help the Rare Disease Community.”

It does not matter whether you are a casual walker, an avid runner, swimmer or roll on wheels of any kind, you can help make a difference for the Rare Disease Community. To participate in the 7,000-Mile challenge join an existing team, create a new team for you and others, or participate as an individual.  

Track and add your mileage to the collective Uplifting Athletes total using any single day or combination of days throughout the 10-day challenge. You can collect pledges for every mile you contribute to the challenge to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes. 

Join Uplifting Athletes wherever you are July 17th to 26th and rally your support for the Rare Disease Community through activity, donation or both!

To pre-register and start helping Uplifting Athletes Tackle Rare Diseases, visit upliftingathletes.org. Now is a time for action so no one in the Rare Disease Community lives without hope.

Proceeds from the 7,000 Mile Challenge support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Leaders and Uplifting Experiences.

Any questions about the 7,000 Mile Challenge, please send an email to info@uplitingathletes.org.

Uplifting Athletes cancels all annual Lift For Life events for 2020


COVID-19 has led to many adjustments of the college athletic schedule. The football student-athletes and programs Uplifting Athletes work with face a condensed time frame to prepare for the upcoming season under heightened safety precautions.

In order to avoid any additional pressure, Uplifting Athletes made the decision to cancel all our annual Lift For Life events this summer.

On behalf of the Rare Disease Community Uplifting Athletes serves, thank you to everyone who has supported Lift For Life in the past. We look forward to a full Lift For Life schedule in 2021.

Lift For Life is the signature event for universities across the country that are part of the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of chapters.

It is more important than ever for Uplifting Athletes to be there for our friends and family affected by Rare Diseases. Please stay tuned for a big announcement on Monday June 22 on how you can help rally support for the Rare Disease Community this summer.

21 NFL Prospects join 2020 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign during NFL Combine


For the sixth consecutive year, Uplifting Athletes is empowering NFL prospects with the opportunity to use the NFL Combine as a platform to give back by raising funds and awareness in support of the Rare Disease Community.

Reps For Rare Diseases has been used as a way for athletes to give back at a pivotal point in their quest to play at the highest level as they put their skills on display for NFL teams.

Since its inception in 2015, more than 100 players have participated in this campaign through either the NFL Combine or NFL Pro Day workouts.

This year Uplifting Athletes currently has 21 players who chose to participate in Reps For Rare Diseases 2020 at the NFL Combine including: Grayland Arnold, JaMycal Hasty, Denzel Mims, Clay Johnston, James Lynch and Chris Miller from Baylor, Davion Taylor from Colorado, Jalen Elliott, Alohi Gilman, Tony Jones Jr., Cole Kmet, Chris Finke and Julian Okwara from Notre Dame, Juwan Johnson from Oregon, Rob Windsor from Penn State, Kevin Davidson from Princeton, Sterling Hofrichter and Kendall Coleman from Syracuse, Reggie Robinson and Trevis Gipson from Tulsa and Shaun Bradley from Temple.

“During Combine and Pro Day training, so much time and energy is focused by these young men on achieving their dreams of playing in the NFL,” former NFL player and Uplifting Athletes’ Chapter Success Manager Levi Norwood said. “It is amazing to see so many NFL hopefuls realize, especially during this tiring and grueling process, how impactful their platform can be. We are honored they chose to stand alongside Uplifting Athletes and the Rare Disease Community.” 

Fans and supporters can pledge towards the performance of any one of our NFL Combine participants this year and help Uplifting Athletes tackle rare diseases.

Visit the Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases 2020 team landing page, choose your favorite player and make your pledge today.

Horizon Therapeutics plc and Uplifting Athletes announced a new partnership for the 2020 Reps for Rare Diseases campaign. Horizon will match donations up to $35,000 through its #RAREis program, which is dedicated to providing individuals living with rare disease and families access to resources that connect, inform and educate as they navigate their daily lives.

“Thank you to all the athletes participating in Reps For Rare Diseases and good luck as you continue your football journey,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact and NFL veteran Brett Brackett said. “This group of athletes displays the empathy and character that helps them stand out amongst their peers. Any NFL team would be lucky to have one of these men representing their organization.”

The proceeds from the 2020 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Kent State posts first bowl game victory in program history and eight teams highlighted in Chapter Bowl Season Update


Kent State needed four tries to get the first bowl victory in school history. The Golden Flashes, making their first bowl appearance since 2012, upended Utah State in the Frisco Bowl to not only record the first bowl win for the program, but also record its first winning record in seven seasons.

Kent State won its final four games of the season to finish 7-6 overall. Sophomore kicker Matt Trickett drilled five field goals in the 10-point victory to give him 29 field goals this season. It was the third game Trickett posted four or more field goals in a game and his five made kicks is the most by a MAC player in a bowl game since 2013. Kent State Chapter President Antwan Dixon, a member of the 2019 Rare Disease Champion Team, had a career-best 99 receiving yards and recorded his first touchdown of the season.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had a record breaking outing to outgun Memphis in the Cotton Bowl and post their third 11-win season in the last four years. Led by redshirt sophomore running back Journey Brown, Penn State rolled up 396 rushing yards – the most ever in a bowl game for the Nittany Lions. Brown had a career-high 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 202 yards is the most by a Penn State running back in its storied bowl history – surpassing the 194 yards posted by Saquon Barkley in the 2017 Rose Bowl. Brown’s record performance earned him the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Bowl Season. Penn State’s seven total touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns both tied Cotton Bowl records. Sophomore All-American linebacker Micah Parsons tied a career-high with 14 tackles. He also had 3.0 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles to earn Defensive MVP honors for the game.

Notre Dame: A convincing 24 point win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl gave the Fighting Irish back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time since 1988-1989. Sparked by a balanced offense and another stingy effort from a Notre Dame defense that recovered a pair of fumbles in the game to give them an FBS-best 19 on the season, the Irish grabbed control early and never let the Cyclones have a say in determining the outcome. Notre Dame Chapter Leader Drew White finished with five tackles in the game. The linebacker ended the season tied for first in tackles with 80.

Clemson: For the third time in four years the Tigers will play for the College Football Playoff National Championship. The defending champions won their record 29th straight game, rallying from a 16-point deficit in the first half to edge Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson will play No. 1 seed LSU for the title on Monday, January 13 in New Orleans. Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence accounted for 366 total yards and three touchdowns, including a career-high 107 rushing yards. The Clemson defense sealed the victory with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions – including a Nolan Turner pick in the end zone with less than a minute remaining. Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields had thrown only one interception all season before the National Semifinal.

Western Michigan: The Broncos saw Western Kentucky kick a pair of field goals in the final two minutes – including a game winner from 52 yards out with no time left on the clock – to claim the First Responder Bowl. Western Michigan senior cornerback Kareem Ali, a transfer from Temple, picked off a pass in the second quarter and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown. Ali’s pick-six, the first interception of his career, was the first interception ever returned for a touchdown by a Bronco in a bowl game. The 88 yards he covered is the most for an interception return by any Mid-American Conference (MAC) player ever in a bowl game – surpassing the previous mark by 32 yards. The three-point loss dropped WMU to 7-6 overall for the season.

Illinois: Making its first appearance in a bowl game since 2014, the Fighting Illini fell to California in the Redbox Bowl – the first bowl game appearance for Illinois since 2014. Turnovers fueled the Illini as they had a program-best 28 takeaways during the regular season. Despite outgaining Cal 450-395, the Illinois defense did not produce a single turnover for the first time all season. Junior punter Blake Hayes had five punts for 208 total yards with a long of 55 yards and dropped four of those five boots inside the 20-yard line. Hayes owns three of the top 11 single-season punting averages in Illinois history and no fewer than six single-season program punting records. Illini senior linebacker Dele Harding had six tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss in his final game. Harding finish his senior year with 153 tackles to finish sixth on the Illinois all-time list for a single season and the most by an Illini player in the last 25 years.

Florida State: The Seminoles had nearly 200 more yards of total offense than Arizona State in the Sun Bowl, but Florida State was undone by six turnovers that the Sun Devils converted into 14 points on their way to a seven-point victory. Seminoles redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tamorrion Terry had a career-best nine catches and 165 receiving yards including a 91-yard catch-and-run touchdown.That 91-yard touchdown catch was the longest passing play in Sun Bowl history (86 years). Terry’s six touchdown catches this season of 60 or more yards ties him with Oklahoma All-American Dede Westbrook in 2016 for the most in a season nationally since at least 2010.

Baylor: For the third time in seven years, the Bears went to a bowl game with 11 wins and chance to register 12 victories for the first time in program history. Undone in the first half of the Sugar Bowl by a dominant Georgia squad, Baylor fell behind 19-0 and despite a strong second half never fully recovered and ultimately fell to the Bulldogs by 12 points. Still, only two years removed from a 1-11 season, playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl with a chance to make program history was not on the Bears’ radar when the season kicked off.

Chapter Update: Clemson makes college football history with fifth ACC crown and eight teams earn bowl invitations


Defending National Champion Clemson became the first team in college football history to win five consecutive conference championships when it overpowered Virginia in the ACC Championship game.

The Tigers extended their nation-best winning streak to 28 games and have now won 19 ACC championships and 25 overall championships in Clemson program history.

Led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Tee Higgins, Clemson scored the first five times it had the ball on its way to an ACC Championship game record 62 points and 619 total yards.

Higgins finished with three touchdown receptions and 182 receiving yards, each setting an ACC Championship Game record. With those three TD catches the junior tied Clemson’s all-time receiving touchdowns record with 27 and earned the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Lawrence set an ACC Championship game record with four touchdown passes. He finished with 302 passing yards and for the eighth consecutive game threw at least three TD passes.

Tigers running back Travis Etienne chipped in with 114 yards and a touchdown to eclipse 1,500 yards on the ground this season. It’s the second year in a row he went over the 1,500-yard mark, becoming the first player in program history to accomplish the feat.

For the fifth consecutive year the undefeated Tigers will participate in the College Football Playoff. Clemson was awarded the No. 3 seed and will face second-seeded Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on December 28 in one CFP semifinal.

The Tigers’ fifth CFP playoff appearance ties Alabama for the most appearances in the brief history of the four-team playoff.

Learn more about Clemson Chapter President and punter Will Spiers in our Beyond The Trophy series

Baylor: Forced to use its second and third string quarterbacks, the Bears still took the Big 12 Championship game into overtime before falling to Oklahoma by a touchdown. Twice Baylor rallied from double-digit deficits to force extra time in its first appearance in the conference title game. After losing starting quarterback Charlie Brewer in the first half, the combination of redshirt freshman Gerry Bohanon and true freshman Jacob Zeno combined to throw for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns without an interception to keep Baylor in the hunt. The Bears had a crack to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, moving inside the OU 20 before stalling and settled instead for John Mayers 27-yard field goal as the final points in regulation. Junior defensive lineman James Lynch had 2.0 sacks in the championship game, setting the Baylor single-season mark for sacks in a season with 12.5.

The Bears’ only losses this season came at the hands of College Football Playoff-bound Oklahoma. Baylor finished No. 7 overall in the rankings and earned an invitation to a New Year’s Six Bowl invite to the 86th playing of the Sugar Bowl. The Bears, who were 1-11 two years ago, will play No. 5 Georgia in New Orleans. This is the reward for a senior class that played under three different head coaches and lost 16 of 18 games during one stretch.

Penn State: For the first time since 1975 the Nittany Lions will play in the Cotton Bowl to commemorate the 50th bowl game appearance in program history. Penn State finished No. 10 in the final rankings and earned an invitation to play American Athletic Conference (AAC) champion and 17th ranked Memphis (12-1) in Dallas on December 28. This will be the Nittany Lions’ third New Year’s Six bowl appearance in the last four years under head coach James Franklin and the sixth straight season Penn State has been bowl eligible.

Illinois: Ending a five-year drought of making an appearance in a bowl game, the Fighting Illini earned the 19th bowl invitation in program history with a trip to the Bay Area. Illinois will play Cal from the Pac-12 in the Redbox Bowl on December 30. Although Illinois and Cal have played 10 previous times, this will be the first meeting in a bowl game.

Notre Dame: Coming off its third consecutive 10-win season, the Fighting Irish will play their 148th different opponent in program history when they face Iowa State from the Big 12 Conference in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando on December 28. This is the ninth time in 10 years head coach Brian Kelly has taken Notre Dame to a bowl game and will mark appearance No. 36 in the postseason for the Fighting Irish.

Kent State: After winning their final three games just to reach six wins, the Golden Flashes are headed to a bowl game for only the fourth time in program history and the first since 2013. Kent State will play Utah State from the Mountain West Conference in the Frisco Bowl on December 20 in Frisco, Texas. With wins over Buffalo, Ball State and Kent State, the Golden Flashes are the only FBS team to win their final three games of the season to become bowl eligible.

Western Michigan: For the third time in the last four years the Broncos are bowl bound. Western Michigan earned an invitation to the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on December 30 and will face 8-4 Western Kentucky from Conference USA. This is the 10th overall bowl appearance for Western Michigan since it earned its first bowl invitation in 1961.

Florida State: The Seminoles will appear in the postseason for an NCAA-best 38th time in the last 40 seasons after receiving an invitation to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on December 31. Florida State will play Arizona State from the Pac-12 for the fifth time in program history. The last time FSU played in the Sun Bowl was 1966 and the last time the Seminoles and Sun Devils squared off was 1984.

Uplifting Athletes team expands with hiring of Baylor Chapter founder Levi Norwood as Chapter Success Manager


Uplifting Athletes is excited to welcome Levi Norwood to our team in the role of Chapter Success Manager.

Levi is a former student-athlete at Baylor where he played football and basketball. During his time at Baylor he was inspired by a high school classmate battling Cerebral Palsy and, in early 2014, founded the Baylor Uplifting Athletes Chapter.

His passion and commitment to the rare disease cause started more than a half-decade ago, so when the opportunity to dedicate himself full-time to the Rare Disease Community as a member of the Uplifting Athletes team materialized, Levi was excited for the chance to serve.

“Since my time as a student-athlete at Baylor, I have been involved with Uplifting Athletes. First while in grad school trying to get the Baylor chapter rolling again and then getting guys interested while working in the athletic department at New Mexico,” said Norwood, who was a Rare Disease Champion Award finalist in 2015. “When Brett (Brackett) brought up the idea of working full-time with Uplifting Athletes, for me it was a no brainer.”

At Uplifting Athletes, Levi will be responsible for overseeing the success of our nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters while working diligently to elevate the rare disease cause as a national priority through the organization’s mission.

“Uplifting Athletes is fortunate to add a valuable piece to our team with the hiring of Levi Norwood,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “Levi brings a passion for the rare disease cause and a familiarity with the organization that will make for a seamless transition to his full-time position. His unique skill set and a high level of emotional intelligence make him a perfect addition to help move the organization onward and upward.”

Levi received his undergraduate degree in 2014 from Baylor University where he obtained a B.A. in Public Relations. He obtained his graduate degree, M.Ed. in Sport Management, in 2018.

On the football field at Baylor, Levi was a part of the winningest class in school history and helped Baylor win their first two Big 12 Conference Championships in 2013 and 2014. As the primary punt returner, he holds the school record for career punt return touchdowns (2) and as a receiver caught 128 passes and scored 11 touchdowns. He also has one career point for the Baylor Bears basketball team.

After his career at Baylor, Levi spent a short time in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Like many coaches’ kids, Levi does not consider one place home but currently resides in Waco, Texas. Prior to joining Uplifting Athletes as a full-time employee on November 18th, Levi worked in higher education at the University of New Mexico and most recently Baylor University.

Chapter Update: Penn State matches program standard with another 10-win season and seven teams post Week 14 victories


Penn State won for the 10th consecutive time at Beaver Stadium and, in the process of upending Rutgers on Senior Day, the Nittany Lions tied a double-digit victory standard for the program.

For the third time in four years Penn State has won at least 10 games. It marks the first time the Nittany Lions have accomplished three double-digit win seasons in a four-year span since 1993-1996.

Penn State has been stellar at home during this historic run – capping a third unbeaten slate at Beaver Stadium in the last four years. The last time that happened was 1972-1975.

Backup quarterback Will Levis made his first start and rushed for 108 yards. Running back Journey Brown chipped in with 103 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. The last time Penn State had a pair of 100-yard rushers was 2015 and the last time that combination was a QB and RB was 2005.

The Nittany Lions finished solo second in the Big Ten East behind undefeated Ohio State and are in line for a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

Baylor: Two years ago the Bears were a one-win team in head coach Matt Rhule’s first season in Waco. Their only victory in 2017 was on the road at Kansas. Two years later Baylor returned to Memorial Stadium in Lawrence and thumped the Jayhawks to complete a 1-11 to 11-1 turnaround and punched their ticket to the Big 12 Championship game Saturday. Baylor is the first Power 5 program to go from 1-11 to 11-1 in two years. In one of its most dominant conference victories in program history, the Bears rang up 264 yards on the ground, scored on five of their first six possessions and the defense produced six turnovers.

Clemson: The Tigers won their 27th game in a row, nailed down the eighth undefeated regular season in program history and third under head coach Dabo Swinney, by knocking off Palmetto State rival South Carolina. Junior running back Travis Etienne broke the ACC record for career rushing touchdowns with a three-yard blast in the fourth quarter for his 53rd career touchdown on the ground. His historic touchdown earned Etienne the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 18 consecutive passes against the Gamecocks to set a school record for consecutive completions, surpassing the previous mark of 15. The 18 straight completions also tied the ACC record for consecutive completions.

Learn more about Florida State Chapter President and linebacker DeCalon Brooks in our Beyond The Trophy series

Northwestern: The Wildcats used a powerful running game and a stingy defense to subdue Illinois and claim the Land of Lincoln Trophy for a program-record fifth time in a row. Northwestern posted 378 yards on the ground and eclipsed the 350-plus yard mark rushing for the first time since 2012. Senior defensive lineman Trent Goens had a career day in his final game with three tackles for a loss (TFL), a quarterback hurry (QBH) and a forced fumble. Only one Wildcat has replicated that stat line since 2000 – Malcolm Arrington in 2008. Goens also finished with six tackles, five of them solo stops, and a pass break-up to power a defense that limited the Fighting Illini to 160 total yards.

Notre Dame: Trailing by 10 points in the first half, the Fighting Irish ripped off 24 unanswered points to reach the 10-win plateau for the third consecutive season and the fourth time in the last five years. Senior quarterback Ian Book became the first Fighting Irish in program history with 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 touchdown passes in a season. He also became the first Notre Dame quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in a game five times in the victory over Stanford. 

Syracuse: Sophomore defensive back Trill Williams ripped the ball from Wake Forest’s Kendall Hinton at the six and raced 94 yards to the end zone to secure a six-point overtime victory for the Orange at home. Syracuse scored first in OT on a 40-yard field goal. The Demon Deacons were on the move in extra time before Williams stepped in. Each team kicked a 40-plus yard field in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.

Kent State: For the first time since 2012, the Golden Flashes are headed to a bowl game after posting their third consecutive win to reach 6-6 overall by taking out Eastern Michigan on Black Friday. This is only the fourth season Kent State in bowl eligible in the last 30 years. Jamal Parker put the Golden Flashes in the driver’s seat by returning the second-half kickoff 96 yards to give Kent State a three-score lead on the road. EMU pushed back and made it a one-score game in the fourth quarter before the Golden Flashes defense picked off a pass late to earn a bowl invitation for 2019. Junior quarterback Dustin Crum completed 68.3 percent of his passes this year and finished the regular season with an NCAA QB Rating of 155.97. Both those numbers are the best in Golden Flashes program history.

Illinois: The Illini held their 118th annual football banquet Sunday and Illinois Chapter President and tight end Bobby Walker was recognized for his work with Uplifting Athletes in receiving the Service Above Self Award. Despite the loss at home to Northwestern on Senior Day, the Fighting Illini finished 6-6 this year and are bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. Junior kicker James McCourtnailed a 50-yard field in the third quarter against the Wildcats to give him four field goals this season of 50 or more yards. Those four long-range kicks ties the Fighting Illini program record for number of 50-yard or longer field goals in a season.