Seven Uplifting Athletes chapter leaders up for off-the-field awards in 2017

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Uplifting Athletes is proud to have seven college football student-athlete chapter leaders nominated for national off-the-field awards this year.

Five players are nominated for the AFCA Good Works Team and four are on the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy.

Syracuse quarterback Zach Mahoney and kicker Adam Greene of Maryland made the grade on both lists.

Joining those two as nominees for the AFCA Good Works Team are center Nick Allegretti from Illinois, defensive lineman Kurt Holuba from Princeton and Nebraska linebacker Chris Weber.

Since 1992, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team has brought together a select group of college football players from across the country to honor their dedication to volunteerism and enriching the lives of others. While players are often recognized for their accomplishments and achievements on game day, these student-athletes have made significant contributions to the greater good of society, inspiring future generations of young athletes and the larger college football community.

Uplifting Athletes has placed at least one player on the AFCA Good Works Team every year since 2012.

Joining Mahoney and Greene on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list are Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and Florida State center Alec Eberle.

The Wuerffel Trophy is presented annually by the All Sports Association in Fort Walton Beach Florida.  Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel from the University of Florida, the Wuerffel Trophy is awarded to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

Congratulations to these seven Uplifting Athletes chapter leaders for making the rare disease cause a priority and using the power of sport for social good.



Saint Francis Uplifting Athletes Community Day featuring Lift For Life will also include a 5K run and Punt, Pass & Kick

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The Saint Francis Uplifting Athletes Community Day featuring the SFU Chapter Lift For Life is scheduled for Sunday, April 30 starting at Noon.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

The Saint Francis Chapter is sharing its Lift For Life as part of a Community Day and will also offer a 5K run and a punt, pass & kick event for children. The Punt, Pass & Kick is exclusively for kids in grades K-8 only. The age group breakdowns are by grade: K-2, 3-5 and 6-8.

Kicking off the Community Day is the 5K run at noon. The race is open to runners of all ages and registration is $3 for children ages 12 and under and $5 for adults. The starting point will be the Saint Francis University Science Building.

Following the 5K run at approximately 1 p.m., the punt, pass & kick will take place on the turf inside DeGol Field.

The SFU Chapter Lift For Life featuring student-athletes from the 2017 Red Flash football team will start at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Fans can support the SFU Chapter and its Lift For Life fundraising efforts or register for any of the Community Day events by visiting the Saint Francis Uplifting Athletes Community Day fundraising site.

All proceeds (including registration fees) from the Saint Francis Uplifting Athletes Community Day featuring its annual Lift For Life supports Uplifting Athletes and its commitment to life skills development, patient focused programs and rare disease research.

Today, the challenges faced by the rare disease community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Saint Francis Chapter, along with a nationwide network of teams, is uniquely positioned to educate and engage the local community and shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

The Saint Francis Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2012 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led Saint Francis Chapter serves the rare disease community in honor of the younger brother of former Red Flash wide receiver Jeff Wasilewski.

Please support the Saint Francis Uplifting Athletes Community Day and help the Red Flash reach their $5,000 fundraising goal.

Thanks for helping the Saint Francis Chapter of Uplifting Athletes tackle rare diseases. Together…We Are…Stronger!


Sixth annual Uplifting Athletes Gridiron Gala was a night of inspiration

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Uplifting Athletes held its sixth annual Gridiron Gala last weekend at the Keystone Building in Harrisburg, Pa. It was a fantastic evening of celebration focused on positively impacting the rare disease community.

We truly appreciate Dr. Phillip Abbosh, BethAnn Telford, Rob Long and Brett Brackett for joining us and sharing their inspirational stories shining a light on the four Uplifting Athletes programming initiatives.

Dr. Abbosh is a researcher at Fox Chase in Philadelphia and received a research grant from Uplifting Athletes. Telford is a rare brain cancer survivor who has become an advocate and fundraiser. Long is also a rare brain cancer survivor and serves as the inspiration for Syracuse starting an Uplifting Athletes Chapter and Brackett is a former NFL player who served as a past president of the Penn State Chapter.

The support of our Gridiron Gala guests and sponsors goes a long way in helping Uplifting Athletes bring our mission to life across the country as we inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.


Thanks to everyone who came out for the celebration and a special thank you to our sponsors for making the 2016 Uplifting Athletes Gridiron Gala our most successful ever.

Together … We Are … Stronger!



Notre Dame Chapter annual bowling event set for June 12


The Notre Dame Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual community bowling event on Sunday, June 12.

This will be the third consecutive year the Notre Dame Chapter is holding this event to support its mission of using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

Once again the Notre Dame Chapter bowling event will take place at the Strikes & Spares Event Center in Mishawaka, Indiana from 10 a.m. until Noon.

Fans of the Fighting Irish will have the opportunity to bowl with members of the football student-athlete led Notre Dame Chapter for an hour.

Each registrant will hit the lanes for an hour with three other registrants and two members of the Notre Dame Chapter. The cost for registration is $30 and includes personal interaction and photo opportunities with the Fighting Irish players and Notre Dame Chapter members in attendance.

In order to register for the Notre Dame Chapter Bowling Event visit the online registration page at

Fans are encouraged to come out and support this event and the Notre Dame Chapter as it helps bring the vision of Uplifting Athletes to life; which is to empower people to take action against rare diseases and inspires the medical community to find cures.

The challenges faced by the rare disease community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The grassroots effort of the Notre Dame Chapter, along with a nationwide network of teams, is uniquely positioned to educate and engage the local community and shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

The Notre Dame Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2012 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led Notre Dame Chapter serves the rare disease community in honor of rare disease patient Sam Grewe.

Diagnosed with the rare disease osteosarcoma in 2011 as a teenager, Grewe is a huge Irish fan and the Notre Dame football program formed a close relationship with Grewe as he battled his rare disease.

Please consider helping the Notre Dame Chapter of Uplifting Athletes tackle rare diseases.



Surviving the second GORUCK Challenge in Harrisburg


My name is Amy Ladas, I’m 36 years young, and I currently live in Harrisburg, Pa. I love anything that challenges me and forces me outside of my comfort zone… intellectually, emotionally, physically. I love strongman training, heavy weight lifting, the camaraderie of CrossFit, and anything that gets me to move. I’m an artist and musician at heart. I grew up as a tomboy and country girl and determination is my middle name. I love meeting inspirational people that also believe in things bigger than themselves. This was my first experience with a GORUCK event.

Everybody has experienced that moment in time where you’ve agreed to do something completely unique, and you have to keep quieting the thoughts in your head that tell you that you might regret it.

These thoughts will cause you to question your sanity, tell you that you might fall down and possibly not make it to the end and fail.

I used to fear these thoughts and stick to my familiar routines, my comfort zone.

So what better way to shake it up than trying something completely out of your comfort zone?

“Please don’t let my personal experience here frighten you,” Andy Shay told us when we met to consider registering for this GORUCK Challenge. “This is a beater.”

I couldn’t agree more!

Our GORUCK Challenge team of 27 individuals started at City Island, right outside the walking bridge and the baseball stadium. I believe each of us was antsy for the 10 p.m. start.

Number one rule: Never let the ruck touch the ground.

In the vacant field, where the grass was not yet wet with dew, Cadre Dakotah had us do warm-up PT. Squats, lunges, push-ups, overhead presses, bear crawls, team drags, burpees, flutter kicks, hill sprints… all with the rucks on our backs, stomachs, overhead, whatever was asked of us.

We did about 15 total miles – broken into an average, 2.5-3.5 mile trips spanning the capital region (back and forth across the very scenic Susquehanna river).

On one trip we carried all of our normal weight plus a number of sand bags of various weights – from 120 pounds down to 40 pounds.

Then, on another trip we carried all of that plus rocks of varying shapes and weights. One of the rocks required 2-3 guys, and several of the bulky rocks required us to have small teams that could swap out.

We eventually covered the required distance in the middle of the night and were finally put down the sand bags and rocks.

GORUCK BLOG1Next we found ourselves in Camp Hill in the middle of a park where we raced each other pushing picnic tables on the wet grass in the middle of the night.

Then the team pushed a padded football sled about four or five times around the entire football field. Each trip was preceded by a humorous story that Dakotah would pull from his witty brain, all with the biggest grin and a crazy twinkle in his eyes.

We each battled our internal thoughts, exhaustion and cramps, reminding each other to keep fueled and hydrated. Above all we learned to rely and trust each other.

My breakthrough was learning how to not be afraid of asking for help. The reality was that none of us could have done anything we did alone.

At one point before sunrise, we pushed ourselves to make it from the middle of Camp Hill back to the gardens on Front Street in Harrisburg all in 60 minutes – jogging a lot of the time to try to make it.

The penalty for not making it was additional PT when we were “done” with everything else in the morning. We all tried our best and came in close at 64 minutes. The frustration was visible on our tired faces, but we had to keep in mind how to keep the team stronger and more together as one unit.

The toughest leg of the journey was from the gardens on Front Street right after sunrise all the way to the National Civil War Museum and amphitheater … with a beastly telephone pole.

Because some members of the team were too short for their shoulders to help carry the weight, the team carrying the pole was a slimmer crew.

We tried subbing in and out, but it was brutal, painful and agonizing. Some said it was soul-crushing, and it really felt like it.

After getting rid of the telephone pole, we were treated to some burpees and sprints up and down a steep hill. We hooked up with the GORUCK Light team, which started at 5 a.m., and took a break to sit and listen to each Cadre talk about their special operations experiences.

These are amazing men with passionate souls and experiences that far surpass movie scripts. The break was nice, but our adventure wasn’t over.

We were all stiff from sitting still, but now under Cadre Michael’s guidance, we rucked it back to Walnut Street walking bridge.

Synchronized walking lunges for about half the length of the bridge seemed at first impossible, considering how exhausted we all were. But the silent synchronized beats of our footsteps coming together sounded awesome. Like River Dance for GORUCK.

We returned to City Island, to the place where it all started more than 12 hours earlier. The Cadre placed patches in the palms of our incredibly heavy outstretched arms, said we could drop our arms to our sides and remove our rucks for the final time.

Beer never tasted so good. We survived. We each have stories we’ll forever remember. As much as it wiped me out and knocked me down, I know I’ll do it again.

I love the quote that says: “when life knocks you down, do a burpee!”

Whether during an exhausting and liberating GORUCK Challenge, or just going about your daily life in your own little world where sometimes it feels like we are alone in our journey … never forget that: Together … We Are … Stronger!


GORUCK events evaporate individual mindset with powerful team building concepts

GORUCK BLOG1Uplifting Athletes staff member Andy Shay wrote this first-hand account of his GORUCK experience last year when he was a sportswriter for PennLive/The Patriot-News.

Coming full circle to the exact spot where we started nearly 12 hours earlier on the steps of the state Capitol Building, our 2013 Uplifting Athletes GORUCK Challenge team of 29 members knew the moment was upon us.

When our GORUCK Cadre, a military Special Operations veteran named Silver, said “class 723 remove your rucksacks and put them on the ground you are finished,” I hesitated for a second.

I knew the rule – one of five we had to follow the entire 12 hours – your rucksack may not ever touch the ground.

When Silver said put them down, I didn’t know whether to cry, cuss or jump up and down with joy. So I just stood there for a second and soaked in what we had just accomplished.

After nearly 12 hours of physically exhausting and mentally punishing missions, our entire 29-person team was officially GORUCK Tough.

These missions saw us carry more than a ton of weight nearly 15 miles in and around Harrisburg. We lugged concrete parking dividers, rocks and a ridiculously heavy telephone pole.

We made a visit to a nasty pond in Wildwood Park, but that dirty water never felt so good. Our team also took a dip in the Susquehanna River on City Island then played in the sand.

The finisher was bear crawling and sprinting across the Walnut St. Bridge from City Island before carrying eight of our female teammates through the city back to the State Capitol.

Somehow, summing this grueling adventure up in three paragraphs makes it sound pretty simple.

Trust me, it wasn’t.

But part of the magic of what GORUCK has forged through these challenges is the concept of teamwork.

We started this journey several months ago as 29 individuals. We formed bonds and friendships along the way in training. And we solidified those ties that bind at another level by coming together as one team over the course of 12 hours.

Military Special Operations is a brotherhood that GORUCK gives civilians an opportunity to taste for one day. And our 2013 team was drinking the Kool-Aid.

Our private Facebook page was filled with hundreds of post-event comments, jokes and memories. Each of us in GORUCK Class 723 now looks at those other 28 members of the team as our brothers and sisters.

During this grueling and demanding 12-hour stretch we formed a unique bond that’s hard to replicate in the civilian world. Each mission started and completed together.

Early on in our 2013 challenge my body threw me a nasty curve. For some reason my blood sugar, I think, bottomed out. I’m not a diabetic, but I do have low blood sugar.

And mine went south on me after two hours. I was dizzy, light headed, weak, pale, suffered from the cold sweats and was in no condition to help carry those heavy cement parking dividers.

My teammates recognized I wasn’t doing well. Several offered to hump my nearly 40-pound ruck for stretches and had me just carry the flag and walk. I ate peanut M&M’s and drank water for an hour.

Cadre Silver kept shining his light in my eyes and asked me if I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to quit, but I knew if the worm didn’t turn soon I might not have any choice.

Eventually my body cooperated, and by the time we reached the Farm Show Complex I was feeling strong enough to join the cement parking divider lifting party.

I will forever be grateful to my teammates for picking me up and allowing my body to recover and finish this challenge.

We started with 29 and finished with 29. We raised more than $22,000 for rare disease research through Uplifting Athletes.

And we literally, for 12 hours lived the motto “Together … We Are … Stronger.

The patch Cadre Silver gave each of us is stitched with the words “GORUCK Tough.” You have to live it for those 12 hours to fully understand it.

The bond we formed as a team has stayed strong over the course of a year. We still have plenty of lively Facebook conversations about almost anything. Nearly a dozen members of our team went out for a night together at the Uplifting Athletes Gridiron Gala earlier this year.

And as we embark on putting together two teams in 2014, plenty of 2013 team members have already answered the bell again in the fight against rare diseases.

Spots for the 2014 GORUCK Challenge and GORUCK Light events are open and available for registration. It was a rugged 12 hours finishing a Challenge event, but that wasn’t the hardest part. Having the courage to say yes and sign up takes courage. The training and team building takes care of the rest.





Sneak Peak at Gridiron Gala Silent Auction Items – Bid Now!

The Uplifting Athletes Gridiron Gala is just hours away and we’re busy displaying the items for this year’s silent auction. With some of the best items we’ve ever had to offer, we want to give you ALL the opportunity to place a bid, even if you cannot attend the gala.


Take a look at the awesome list of items below, decide on your maximum bid (remember, it all goes to support Uplifting Athletes!) and email to secure your spot. NOTE: All bids must be received by 7:00pm ET to count!

1. The Spa Hershey

Description: Spa Rain Shower, Chocolate sugar scrub, or hydrating body wrap and a 50 minute Cocoa Massage

Minimum Bid: $100

2. Chocolate Basket

Description: Luxurious Carmina-Cristina makeup products and Marcis Chocolates Basket

Minimum Bid: $70

3. Downtown Harrisburg Date Night

Description: (4) Tickets for Theatre Harrisburg Mainstage productions “Sweeny Todd” or “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers” and $50 gift card to Stocks on 2nd

Minimum Bid: $50

4. Weekend Getaway

Description: Wyndham Gettysburg Accomodations for two nights and breakfast for 2 in 1863 each morning

Minimum Bid: $50

5. Harrisburg Senators single game dugout suite rental and “swag bag”

Description: One single game dugout suite rental, Jordan Zimmerer bobblehead, Christian Garcia autographed baseball, 2013 team poster, Senators t-shirt and visor, 2 senators player posters, 2 rascal cereal bowls.

Minimum Bid: $250

6. Philadelphia Flyers Jersey

Description: Autographed by Claude Giroux

Minimum Bid: $200

7. Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Stick

Description: Autographed by Scott Hartnell

Minimum Bid: $50

8.  Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins Jersey

Description: Autographed by the 2013-2014 team

Minimum Bid: $100

9. Hershey Bear Autographed Photos

Description: Autographed by Philipp Grubaur

Minimum Bid: $50

10. Washington Wizards Basketball

Description: Autographed by Bradley Beal

Minimum Bid: $25

11. Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Puck

Description: Autographed by Scott Hartnell

Minimum Bid: $40

12. Hershey Bears Hockey Puck

Description: Autographed by Philipp Grubaur

Minimum Bid: $25

13. Washington Capitals Jersey

Description: Autographed by the 2013-2014 team

Minimum Bid: $250

14. Washington Wizards Jersey

Description: Autographed by the 2013-2014 team

Minimum Bid: $100

15. Philadelphia 76ers Jersey

Description: Autographed by Thaddeus Young

Minimum Bid: $75

16. Boomer Esiason Ball

Description: Autographed by Boomer Esiason

Minimum Bid: $100

17. Cincinnati Bengals Autographed Jersey

Description: Autographed by Boomer Esiason

Minimum Bid: $250

18. Cincinnati Bengals Helmet

Description: Autographed by Boomer Esiason

Minimum Bid: $250

19.  Jacksonville Jaguars Jersey (adult XL)

Description: Autographed by Paul Posluszny

Minimum Bid: $200

20. Philadelphia Eagles Autographed Jersey

Description: Autographed by Fletcher Cox

Minimum Bid: $250

21. Philadelphia Eagles Autographed Helmet

Description: Autographed by DeSean Jackson

Minimum Bid: $300

22. Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Tickets

Description: Friday May 30th, vs New York Mets (4) Hall of Fame club tickets Section 223, row 7, seats 1-4 and reserved Parking Pass

Minimum Bid: $200

23. Hershey Park

Description: (4) one-day admission passes

Minimum Bid: $100

Again, if you are interested in bidding on any of these items and cannot attend the gala, please reference the auction item and submit your highest bid to by 7:00pm ET tonight!

Together…WE ARE…stronger!