Uplifting Athletes announces five finalists to determine 11th winner of the Rare Disease Champion Award


RDC 1819 GRAPHIC 1Uplifting Athletes is pleased to announce that five finalists have been chosen for the 11th Rare Disease Champion Award winner.

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.

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

The five finalists chosen to determine the 11th winner of the award are: Illinois offensive lineman Nick Allegretti, Stanford linebacker Ryan Beecher, Kent State wide receiver Antwan Dixon, Austin Peay offensive coordinator Joshua Eargle and Syracuse offensive lineman Sam Heckel.

“We are privileged to recognize these five finalists and are humbled to share their stories,” said Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long. “We are excited to see who the public chooses as our 11th Rare Disease Champion, but we know all five of these finalists would make a great winner.”

A public online vote will be live from noon November 12th until midnight December 4th to determine this year’s Rare Disease Champion. You can vote once each day for your favorite finalist on the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion website.

The finalist with the most votes after voting closes at midnight on December 4th will be the winner. The champion will be officially announced on the red carpet from the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on December 6th.

Uplifting Athletes’ 11th Rare Disease Champion will be honored as part of the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 8th in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Tropicana Casino & Resort and as part of the Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft/Rare Disease Champion Celebration on March 9th at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Past Rare Disease Champion winners include seven FBS players, one FCS player, a Division III quarterback and an administrator from AFCA.

Former UCF and current Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin was the 10th winner of the Rare Disease Champion Award.

 

 

 

Baylor pulls off upset of Oklahoma State highlights Week 9 Chapter Upate


BAYLOR GRAPHICIn his second season in charge at Baylor, head coach Matt Ruhle declared the goal for this season was to become bowl eligible. The Bears were 1-11 a year ago and are in the midst of a massive program re-build.

What might be considered normal preseason coach speak was exactly what Ruhle believed was possible for this team. And with an impressive home upset of Oklahoma State in come-from-behind fashion, Baylor is one victory away from achieving that goal.

Quarterback Charlie Brewer, who didn’t start but entered the game in the second half on the heels of spending time in concussion protocol during the week, led the Bears on three touchdown drives in the final 16 minutes.

Brewer completed only four passes, but his final one to Denzel Mims covered six yards for a touchdown with 7 seconds remaining to give Baylor a dramatic come-from-behind victory. It was Mims’ only catch of the day after sitting out almost the entire game with an illness.

Nick Rinella goes old-school and does a little bit of everything for Saint Francis to earn Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honors

Princeton: The No. 17 ranked Tigers moved to 8-0 for the first time since 1995 and took over sole possession of first place in the Ivy League with an emotional and dramatic come-from-behind victory over No. 20 Dartmouth in a battle of two previously unbeaten squads. In a game dominated by defense, Princeton QB John Lovett powered over from the 5-yard-line with 6:33 to play for the winning touchdown. Dartmouth held a 9-7 lead for nearly two quarters after notching a safety in very early stages of the second quarter.

Colgate: The No. 11 ranked Raiders wrapped up their 10th Patriot League title and third in the last four years with perhaps its best showing of the season, a 41-0 blanking of Fordham. Colgate scored 14 points in the first quarter and led 31-0 at halftime. The Raiders not only rushed for a season-high 364 yards – best total since 2012 – but the Colgate defense set a program record by limiting the Rams to minus-50 yards rushing. The shutout was No. 5 on the season for the Raiders, who have not surrendered a touchdown since the 6:59 mark of the fourth quarter in the season opener against Holy Cross. That’s a streak of nearly 430 minutes.

Illinois: Led by a running game that gashed Minnesota for a 430 yards – the most since 2010 – the Orange and Blue improved to 4-5 overall this season. Junior running back Reggie Corbin racked up a career-high 213 yards on just 13 carries (16.4 yards per carry). Corbin found a hole on the Illini’s second offensive snap of the game and outraced the Gopher defense for a 72-yard touchdown to put Illinois in front for good. Corbin also added a 77-yard touchdown in the third quarter, giving him four runs of 70-plus yards on the year.

Syracuse: Playing as a ranked team for the first time since 2001, the Orange pounded Wake Forest by running the ball 60 times for 264 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. A little sluggish early, Syracuse fell behind 10-0 early, but responded with 28 unanswered points to seize control. The road victory was the first in the ACC for the Orange since 2016.

Saint Francis: Using a defense that notched four turnovers, three sacks and nine tackles for a loss, the Red Flash won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Junior safety Nick Rinella led Saint Francis in rushing yards, tackles and kick returns yards. He also iced this game with a late fourth-quarter interception in the end zone.

Catch up with Saint Francis Chapter leader Nick Rinella in the latest installment of our Beyond The Trophy Series

Lehigh: Sophomore wide receiver Jorge Portorreal had a career-high nine catches for 216 yards and a pair of touchdowns to pace a Mountain Hawks offense that piled up 550 yards and scored 45 points to end Lehigh’s seven-game losing streak.

Clemson: The Tigers offense exploded for a season-high 77 points to move to 9-0 and remain square in the middle of the College Football Playoff picture as the consensus No. 2 ranked team in the country. The run game powered the Tigers offensively, accounting for 492 of the 661 total yards. Travis Etienne, Lyn-J Dixon and Tavien Feaster each eclipsed 100 yards rushing and combined for four touchdowns. It was the second time this season a trio of Clemson running backs went over the 100-yard mark in the same game.

Penn: For the second game in a row the Quakers defense allowed only a single touchdown, and the offense scored 17 second-half points to nudge past Cornell. The defense for the 6-2 Quakers limited Cornell to 317 total yards while recording eight tackles for a loss and three sacks.

NC State: Freshman running back Ricky Person, Jr. scored three touchdowns and kicker Christopher Dunn kicked four field goals as the duo combined for 35 points in a victory over Florida State that halted the Wolfpack’s two-game slide. NC State is bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive season. Person’s three touchdowns is the most for a freshman since 2013.

Notre Dame: Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book overcame a sluggish first half to rally undefeated Notre Dame on the road against Northwestern. Book was 15 of 19 for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the second half. He finished with 399 total yards for the Irish (343 passing, 56 rushing) including a 23-yard touchdown run to ice the victory with 2:45 to play.

WEEK 10 SCOREBOARD

Penn State Chapter leader Trace McSorley announced as finalist for NFF William V. Campbell Trophy


NFF William V Campbell_ TraceCongratulations to Penn State Uplifting Athletes Chapter Leader Trace McSorley on being named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, which annually recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.

The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced 13 finalists, who will each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the 60th NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class.

“Trace is a tremendous leader on and off the field. He has been a pleasure to work with in his roles as our Penn State Chapter President and Vice President,” Uplifting Athletes Director Sports Impact Brett Brackett said. “He has a passion for the Rare Disease Community and is far more than just one of the best quarterbacks in the nation … he is one of the most well-rounded student-athletes I’ve ever met or had the privilege to work with.”

All 13 finalists will travel to New York City for the 61st NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Dec. 4, where their accomplishments will be highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports.

At the event, which will take place at the New York Hilton Midtown, one member of the class will be declared the winner of the 29th William V. Campbell Trophy and have his postgraduate scholarship increased to $25,000.

The 13 finalists were selected from a nationwide pool of 179 exceptional semifinalists chosen from all NCAA divisions and the NAIA.

Nominated by their schools, which are limited to one nominee each, candidates for the Campbell Trophy and NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

Three other finalists, Drue Tranquill (Notre Dame), Ryan Finley (NC State) and Christian Wilkins (Clemson), participated in Uplifting Athletes chapter events at their schools.

Illinois Chapter President Nick Allegretti and Saint Francis Chapter President Mike Ames were among the 179 semifinalists.

 

 

 

October meant much more than six points per touchdown for the Rare Disease Community


TDPD 18 WRAP-UP GRAPHICFor the participating members of our nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters, touchdowns during the month of October meant more than six points on the board. Each touchdown provided support to the Rare Disease Community.

The Touchdown Pledge Drive 2018 month-long campaign took place on 15 university campuses. Clemson, Colgate, Davidson, Fordham, Illinois, Lehigh, NC State, Northwestern, Penn, Penn State, Princeton, Saint Francis, Stony Brook, Syracuse and Western Michigan all participated.

“I am very impressed with our chapter leaders and how they took advantage of their platform to provide much needed awareness and support to the Rare Disease Community,” Uplifting Athletes Director Sports Impact Brett Brackett said.

Using the on-field performance of touchdowns scored is a simple way for chapter leaders to share the rare disease cause with their fan bases and leverage their platform when they are most relevant. This year the 15 schools combined to score 222 touchdowns in October.

Raising awareness for the cause on behalf of the Rare Disease Community is another pillar of the Touchdown Pledge Drive campaign. With the help of university athletic communications, individual student-athletes and coaches commitment to raising awareness, this year the campaign generated four million impressions on social media.

“We are grateful to everyone who supported this month-long campaign, chapter leaders, coaches, athletic departments and fans,” Brackett said. “Thanks for being part of our team during October and using your performance on the field to have a real impact off the field.”

The direct impact on the Rare Disease Community came through the fundraising for each touchdown scored. And those 222 touchdowns scored raised more than $25,000 to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Illinois, Penn State and Western Michigan chapters were the top three on the fundraising impact leaderboard with the Fighting Illini leading the pack.

The challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The grassroots effort of our nationwide network of teams is uniquely positioned shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

Through Touchdown Pledge Drive our chapters came together as one team each working hard to meet their individual goal in order to help us all Tackle Rare Diseases.

Illinois Chapter President and offensive lineman Nick Allegretti a leader on and off the field


NICK 1Illinois football senior offensive lineman Nick Allegretti is the President of Illinois Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. This story, authored by Logan Hanson, is being re-posted courtesy of FightingIllini.com with permission.

Champaign, Ill. – There has been one common trait for the offensive line for the past three seasons for the Illini, number 53 in the trenches. For the 30th straight game, senior offensive lineman Nick Allegretti lined up for the Illini. Allegretti’s experience is respected by the Illini who named the veteran a team captain for the 2017 and 2018 seasons and his leadership has helped strengthen the Illini offensive line.

Perhaps more impressive than Allegretti’s on-field prowess is his off the field kindness. Allegretti, a 2017 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honoree, was recently nominated for the Senior CLASS Award as well as named a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy.

The Senior CLASS Award honors student-athletes with notable achievements in four areas of excellence: Community, Classroom, Character and Competition. The Campbell Trophy is given to a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility who has a GPA of at least a 3.2, have outstanding football ability as a starter or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.

For Allegretti this was not an individual effort, but a collection of lessons and knowledge learned from his family.

“I’ve got to give all that credit to my family,” said Allegretti, “I was raised the right way, my parents whatever they did they emphasized giving back to the community, serving others, taking advantage of the opportunity you have to give back to those who are less fortunate.”

Allegretti has certainly been able to give back to the community. As a member of the Illini, Allegretti serves as the president of the Illinois Uplifting Athletes chapter which raises money for rare disease research and treatment and is the “Lift For Life” organizer which has raised over $88,000 for charity in the last two seasons. But Allegretti has a favorite of his charitable exploits: volunteering for the Tom Jones Challenger Baseball League (TJCL). TJCL, which practices and plays in Urbana, is a baseball league that helps children with varying degrees of physical and mental challenges to be able to play a sport by providing a safe environment for the kids.

“I worked with them since the first summer I got on campus. I just immediately gravitated towards the kids there,” said Allegretti about TJCL,”The players are incredible. They are all Champaign community kids, families that love Illini. They are just so grateful for you to be out there and when you take a step back and realize that you doing something so simple had such a large impact, it just makes it easy to go out there and help them. Working with that organization has been really special.”

NICK 2

After earning his bachelor’s degree in accountancy in December, Allegretti wants to leave his mark on a community that he has called home for four years. It all comes back to leaving the community better than when he first arrived for Allegretti and giving back to those who love the University so much.

“When I leave this school I obviously want to leave it better than I found it,” said Allegretti,”I want to leave it with a program with a good offense, a good program, a winning team and then have the players see what it’s like to have an impact on the community. This community cares a ton about us as a team, they support us a ton, so take an hour out of your day occasionally and go volunteer in the community it means a lot.”

Allegretti wants his impact to have an effect both on the community and the other members of his team. With his final campaign halfway over, Allegretti has a message for those players both coming up in the program and in the future.

“Use your platform,” said Allegretti, “You don’t understand how large your platform is and how effective you can be when you’re a Big Ten football player. We’re in a small town community and you have an incredible platform to help people, so use your platform and just give back to those people who have supported you during your career.”

The Illini offensive line will certainly miss having number fifty-three on their side next season, but the Champaign-Urbana community may miss Allegretti even more so. With four years of service to the community, Allegretti’s charity will not be forgotten.

 

Illinois claims first Big Ten victory since 2016 to highlight Week 6 Chapter Update


WEEK 6 GRAPHICIllinois has already won more games in 2018 than it did all of last year when the Fighting Illini ran past Rutgers by 21 points on the road.

The Illini are now 3-2 overall and the triumph over the Scarlet Knights ended a 13-game losing streak in the Big Ten Conference.

Prior to Saturday, the last conference victory for Illinois came over Michigan State in November of 2016.

The key against Rutgers was a commitment to the ground game that produced a pair of 100-yard rushers and the Illini defense forcing turnovers.

Illinois picked off three passes against Rutgers, including the first pass attempt of the game, and now has 10 interceptions in five games.

Catch up with Stony Brook Chapter leader Marc Nolan in the latest installment of our Beyond The Trophy Series

Northwestern: The Wildcats ended their three-game slide by improving to 2-0 on the road and knocking Michigan State out of the Top 25 for the second year in a row. QB Clayton Thorson had four total touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing) and Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald picked up victory No. 50 in the Big Ten Conference.

Baylor: Kicker Connor Martin had a brutal day for the Bears until it came time to kick the winning field goal. Martin, who had already misfired on three field goals and an extra point, provided Baylor with victory No. 4 this season by nailing a 29-yard field goal in the closing seconds to knock off Kansas State.

Princeton: From the start of the second quarter when it was a 7-7 game, Princeton scored on eight of its next nine drives to run away from Lehigh. The FCS nationally ranked Tigers posted a single-game school record 733 yards of total offense and improved to 4-0 overall.

Princeton Tigers quarterback John Lovett accounts for nearly 400 yards as part of a record setting day to earn Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honors

Davidson: The Wildcats moved to 5-1 overall and won back-to-back conference games for the first time since 2007 by holding on to edge Jacksonville. That same year, 2007, was also the last time Davidson won at least five football games in a season. The Wildcats posted more than 300 yards rushing again and scored six of the first seven times they had the ball.

NC State: Powered by a running game that totaled a season-high 225 yards, the Wolfpack remained unbeaten by jumping out to a 28-3 lead before holding off a late Boston College rally. NC State is 5-0 for the first time since 2002 when Phillip Rivers was the quarterback and the Wolfpack started 9-0.

Western Michigan: Sparked by a defense that produced three sacks, eight tackles for losses and a critical turnover, WMU held on to edge Eastern Michigan on homecoming. The Broncos have won four in a row after starting the season 0-2.

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish continue to move up in the polls – now No. 5 in the country – after running away from Virginia Tech in the second half on the road. Notre Dame outscored the Hokies 28-7 the final 30 minutes and is now right in the center of college football playoff discussions.

Colgate: The nationally ranked Raiders cruised to 5-0 overall behind a defense that has not allowed a touchdown in four consecutive games. James Holland Jr. had a pair of touchdowns and QB Grant Breneman threw for a season-high 254 yards to power the Colgate offense.

Clemson: Travis Etienne, Lyn-J Dixon and Adam Choice each eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark on only 10 carries to power a Tigers offense that rolled up 471 yards on the ground – the most under head coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers averaged 11.8 yards per carry, breaking the previous school record of 11.2 set in 1903 against Georgia Tech.

Penn: The Quakers coughed up a 24-0 lead, then put together a clinching 8-play, 87-yard drive in the dying minutes to come-from-behind and knock off Sacred Heart on the road. Karekin Brooks rushed for 191 yards on 28 carries to pace a ground game that churned out 364 yards.

Chapter Scoreboard Week 6

Get ready for Touchdown Pledge Drive 2018 coming in October


TDPD 18 GRAPHICUplifting Athletes is pleased to announce that every touchdown scored throughout October by members of our nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters will help support the Rare Disease Community.

Clemson, Davidson, Fordham, Illinois, Lehigh, NC State, Penn, Penn State, Saint Francis, Stony Brook, Syracuse and Western Michigan, chapters have each committed to help Uplifting Athletes Tackle Rare Diseases in Touchdown Pledge Drive 2018.

Fans can simply make a pledge to their favorite team for each touchdown they score in October and then follow along each week to see the impact they are helping the players make.

“This is a very busy time of year for college football players, but our student-athlete led chapters still make time to leverage their position to help make a difference in the Rare Disease Community,” said Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett. “Touchdown Pledge Drive affords the student-athletes an opportunity to garner support for their cause during their most visible time of year based on their on-field performance.

“This is a great example of college football student-athletes using their platform to inspire others.”

The proceeds from Touchdown Pledge Drive 2018 support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

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

Find your favorite Uplifting Athletes Chapter led by college football student-athletes and support their efforts to make a difference in the Rare Disease Community by joining the Touchdown Pledge Drive 2018 team today!