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!

 

 

Taking a look back at 2016 for Uplifting Athletes


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In a year of change on many fronts for Uplifting Athletes, taking time to reflect is time well spent.

Our purpose as a national nonprofit remains unaffected. We serve the 30 million Americans that comprise the rare disease community. But our scope and mission underwent a natural evolution to kick off the year.

We expanded our scope of support to the larger rare disease community as a whole and settled on five categories of rare disease groups, rare cancers, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders, rare autoimmune disorders and rare muscular disorders.

Our mission has remained the same since 2007, but we overhauled the words to more adequately reflect where we want to go in the future. Uplifting Athletes is a national nonprofit organization that inspires the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

In February we crowned our eighth Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion. And we celebrated USC long snapper Jake Olson and his amazing rare disease story at the annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala in March.

Our annual Gridiron Gala was also in March, and for the first time we put the focus of our annual fundraising event squarely on rare disease patients and their families. It was a celebration of battling, and in some cases overcoming, the challenges of a rare disease journey.

In May we welcomed a record 30-plus leaders in college football to Northwestern University for our annual Chapter Leadership Conference. The weekend painted a promising picture for the future of our nationwide network of student-athlete led chapters.

Over the course of the late spring and into the summer, 19 chapters ran a Lift For Life event. This is the signature fundraising and rare disease awareness event, but trust us when we say no two events are the same.

Penn used its annual Iron Quaker lifting competition to hold its Lift For Life, Notre Dame holds a bowling event to engage the community, at Arizona it’s a kids clinic and Nebraska holds an annual 5K/Fun Run as its signature event.

Clemson, Georgia Tech, Washington and Northern Arizona each held their inaugural Lift For Life events in 2016. And the charter chapter of Uplifting Athletes, Penn State, held its 14th annual Lift For Life.

The funds that are raised from these annual Lift For Life events supports rare disease research and patient focused programs. And this fall, Uplifting Athletes allotted research funds to support translational research being done at UPMC in Pittsburgh, Fox Chase in Philadelphia and Penn.

August was a month of more transition for the organization. Former Chapter Manager Becky Mayes left after nearly four years with Uplifting Athletes and Director of Marketing Mark Mihalik took a similar position with PledgeIt.

Those departures provided Uplifting Athletes the opportunity to hire Rob Long as the Director of Strategic Development and Chapter Liaison. Long is the inspiration behind Syracuse forming a chapter, a former rare disease patient who overcame his rare brain cancer and played college football.

In addition, John Trzeciak was looking for passion and purpose in his journey and as a long-time resident of State College and a Penn State alumnus and fan, he knew about Uplifting Athletes. Trzeciak is a full-time volunteer and mentor with a wealth of knowledge and skills that will help Uplifting Athletes maximize its resources in the future.

At the peak of their football season, 11 members of the Uplifting Athletes Chapter network donated their time and hard work to run Touchdown Pledge Drives.

In its third year of existence, Arizona, Clemson, Colgate, Florida State, Maryland, Penn State, Penn, Princeton, St. Francis, Stony Brook and Syracuse hosted Touchdown Pledge Drive games.

Penn, who shared the Ivy League title with Princeton, ran a campaign that included all of its Ivy games and included the offense, defense and kicking game. Colgate and Princeton each ran offense vs. defense drives. The remaining eight chapters ran a pledge drive based solely on touchdowns.

We are grateful for all the blessings of this past year that allowed us to serve the rare disease community. We are excited for 2017.

Together … We Are … Stronger!

 

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.

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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 info@upliftingathletes.org 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 info@upliftingathletes.org by 7:00pm ET tonight!

Together…WE ARE…stronger!