Uplifting Athletes to welcome 40-plus college football student-athletes for 10th Leadership Development Conference in Atlanta


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The bedrock of the Uplifting Leaders program at Uplifting Athletes is the college football student-athletes that guide our nationwide network of chapters.

These student-athletes already have the drive and passion to help others and that is why they chose to step up and become chapter leaders to help us serve the Rare Disease Community.

In order to help them become even stronger leaders and advocates, Uplifting Athletes will gather these college football student-athletes together in late January for three days of education, training and networking at the 2019 Leadership Development Conference in Atlanta.

This will be the 10th consecutive year Uplifting Athletes has put together a weekend of intense leadership development and relationship building for current and prospective chapter leaders.

“We are thrilled to host a fantastic group of student-athletes for a three-day conference focused on enhancing life skills, transferable skills recognition, and leadership development through Uplifting Athletes programming,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett said. “Our goal is to provide the student-athletes with the skills necessary to returned to campus empowered to make a positive impact on the Rare Disease Community.

This year 44 current football players from 22 universities across the country will travel to Atlanta on Friday, January 25 to kick off a busy weekend of engaging work sessions, networking and relationship building.

Among the 22 schools that will be represented in Atlanta, four of those are prospective Uplifting Athletes Chapters. Kent State, New Mexico, Mississippi State and Duquesne have student-athletes attending for the first time.

Current Chapter leaders from Clemson, Colgate, Davidson, Florida State, Lehigh, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Syracuse, Illinois, Saint Francis, Penn, Northwestern, Maryland, Princeton, Stony Brook, Fordham and Western Michigan will also be in attendance.

The 2019 Leadership Development Conference will kick off with a team meal Friday night prior to a full weekend agenda.

The conference content is developed and driven by the Uplifting Athletes staff, but will also feature a panel of former student-athletes answering questions about the transition to the professional world.

Included in the workshop sessions on Saturday and Sunday are an overview of Uplifting Athletes, Lift For Life and Touchdown Pledge Drive event planning and transferable life skills development.

The highlight of Saturday will be an Uplifting Experience for the student-athletes to interact with local Atlanta area rare disease patients.

We are very excited to bring this group together to learn from each other, to strategize together and to foster the sense of teamwork that inspires us all.

A successful 2018 Year In Review


HappyHolidays-UAMay your days be filled with Peace, Hope and Joy this Holiday Season!

On behalf of the 30 million Americans that comprise the Rare Disease Community, our staff and team of college football student-athletes thank you for your loyalty and support in 2018!  It has been a memorable year and we thank you for helping us achieve our mission.

Most recently, our team was able to be a part of an Uplifting Experience in Seattle. Former University of Illinois and current Seattle Seahawks wide receiver, Malik Turner, hosted a rare disease patient family for the day at the Seahawks facility. Turner continued to build on that relationship during the NFL My Cause My Cleats campaign by securing tickets for ADNP patient Tony Sermone and his family for the game. One of his cleats had the initials “T” and “S” on the back in Tony’s honor. After the game Malik was able to present the signed cleat he wore in the game to Tony.

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Without your support this type of Uplifting Experience would not be possible. Would you consider making a year-end donation to Uplifting Athletes?

2018 also featured plenty of new and exciting milestones for Uplifting Athletes including:

-New Uplifting Athletes chapters established at Western Michigan, Davidson and Lehigh.

-38 NFL prospects participated in our Reps For Rare Diseases campaign during their NFL Combine and individual pro day workouts.

-Held our inaugural Young Investigator Draft in August at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and scheduled our 2019 event for March 9th back at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Young Investigator Draft is the result of our ongoing commitment to rare disease research. In 2018 we distributed six $10,000 grants to six individual researchers.

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-During the 2018 season, the first ever Rare Disease Awareness Games were held involving Uplifting Athletes Chapter match-ups between Syracuse vs. Western Michigan and Penn vs. Princeton. The chapters wore Uplifting Athletes helmets stickers, #WeTackleRare wristbands and recognized local rare disease patient families during a game break.

-We crowned Coach Joshua Eargle from Austin Peay State University as the 11th winner of the Rare Disease Champion Award – given 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. We also enjoyed seeing our 10th winner of the award, Shaquem Griffin from UCF, selected in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

These are just a few of the 2018 highlights. We have bigger and bolder plans for 2019. As always, though, we need your help.

Please consider giving a gift to support the Rare Disease Community we serve. We can’t do any of this without you!

#WeTackleRare

Scott, Rob, Brett, John, Karen and Andy

 

 

Five Uplifting Ambassadors shine a spotlight on rare diseases during NFL My Cause My Cleats


CAM CLEATS 2We are proud to share that five NFL players have chosen to shine a spotlight on the rare disease cause with their cleats.

The NFL’s annual My Cause My Cleats kicked off this week and Uplifting Athletes cleats will be worn in NFL games by Cameron Lynch, Riley Dixon, Malik Turner, Garry Gilliam and Zaire Franklin.

All five of these players are from schools that have a college football student-athlete led Uplifting Athletes Chapter.

“What strikes me is these NFL players supporting the Rare Disease Community have a choice to make when it comes to their cleats. This is very personal decision for them. We are thrilled they chose their platform to support our cause with their cleats. Collectively we are shining a spotlight on rare diseases and inspiring others with hope.” – Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long

Cameron Lynch, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Lynch arrived at Syracuse University when the Orange players were working to start an Uplifting Athletes Chapter. This is the second consecutive year Lynch has made rare diseases his cause.

“During My Cause, My Cleats, I have decided to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and the 30 million Americans affected by rare diseases. Approximately 50 percent of people affected by rare diseases are children and I am proud to help spread the word so that those battling rare diseases know they are not alone.” – Cameron Lynch

Riley Dixon, Punter, New York Giants

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Dixon came to Syracuse when Long was a GA and the common bond of being punters sparked a lasting friendship. This is the second year Dixon has supported the Rare Disease Community with his cleats.

“Uplifting Athletes raises money as well as empowers people to take action against rare diseases – when I was at Syracuse, our long-snapper Sam Rodgers, started Uplifting Athletes for former Syracuse punter Rob Long, who had brain cancer in 2010 and is seven years cancer-free. Through the college sports platform, we raise money for these rare diseases.” – Riley Dixon

 Malik Turner, WR, Seattle Seahawks

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The rare disease cause has become very personal for the Seahawks rookie and former Illinois standout. He was introduced to the cause through the Illini Chapter, was moved by a personal story of a fellow Illinois student he met in class and has extended that 1-on-1 relationship to the NFL by recently hosting a rare disease patient family for an Uplifting Experience at the Seahawks facility.

“What draws me closer to the rare disease cause is personally connecting with someone that has gone through the struggle. That definitely drew me closer to it.” – Malik Turner

Zaire Franklin, LB, Indianapolis Colts

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Franklin participated in every Lift For Life during his time at Syracuse and has become an Uplifting Ambassador in 2018. The Colts rookie participated in Reps For Rare Diseases in conjunction with his NFL Pro Day and is now using his cleats to show the Rare Disease Community his commitment to the cause to inspire them with hope.

Garry Gilliam Jr., OL, San Francisco 49ers

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This is the second in a row year Gilliam has used his cleats to highlight the rare disease cause. During his time at Penn State Gilliam participated in Lift For Life and was a strong fundraiser to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes. Gilliam played high school football in the same Central Pennsylvania conference as Uplifting Athletes Founder Scott Shirley so Gilliam was familiar with the rare disease cause when he arrived at Penn State and has remained a supporter for nearly a decade.

In conjunction with My Cause My Cleats each member of the Uplifting Athletes team has agreed to run a fundraising campaign to support the cause and help Tackle Rare Diseases.

Please consider making a donation to one of these five Uplifting Ambassadors today!

The proceeds from My Cause My Cleats support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Beyond The Finalist: Get to know University of Illinois offensive lineman Nick Allegretti


ALLEGRETTI 1819 FINALIST GRAPHICThe 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.

We afforded each finalist for the 11th Rare Disease Champion Award the opportunity to be featured in our Beyond The Finalist series.

Name: Nick Allegretti

University: University of Illinois

Position: Offensive Line

What about your journey do you always make sure to share when telling your story?

Allegretti: When my brother was diagnosed with his rare disease, I was extremely scared to hear the word cancer and as a young child and I was afraid of all of the negative things that would come with it. However, the doctors and my parents assured me that the treatment plan would get rid of his tumor and there would be nothing to worry about. I believed in this and after years of battling my brother was cured. As a naïve child I believed that this was how all illnesses worked and I did not realize that many people were turned away without a treatment plan. When I realized this, I finally understood how important the work that Uplifting Athletes is doing was to the Rare Disease Community and I knew that I had to help in any way possible.

Can you tell us your ‘welcome to college football (either as a player or coach) moment’?

Allegretti: I can remember the first time we had “optional workouts” over my first summer. In high school I played many sports and had multiple extra curriculars that would conflict with certain sports optional workouts. As a college athlete you have school and then football, and if it’s not class…it’s not a conflict.

What is the one piece of advice or encouragement that’s stuck with you over time? Who gave it to you and what is it?

Allegretti: As a true freshman we were playing a game at Nebraska, which is an electric environment and I remember our offensive coordinator, Bill Cubit, telling us before the game to enjoy the moment and realize the magnitude of the event. From that game on I always tried to take a few seconds out of every game to truly understand how special playing college football is and how much it has meant to me.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Allegretti: Four Brothers – It is a movie about a group of four adopted brothers trying to avenge their mother’s death. I have probably seen some better movies before, but the connection that the brothers share is similar to the relationship that I have with my brother. And the family aspect of the movie, although quite violent, is one of a kind.

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

Allegretti: Alexander Hamilton – He is one of the founding fathers of our country and the first ever Secretary of Treasury and is largely responsible for the beginning of our country’s monetary system. As a coin collector that would go on the study and collect this system, I am very appreciative.

Your favorite aspect of being a part of college football?

Allegretti: My favorite part about being a college football player is the camaraderie that is built with your teammates. When you commit to a university, you usually know very few players and their backgrounds but by the end of your time you have built hundreds of relationships with people you never would have met without college football. And a lot of these relationships will last for life.

Last few songs you downloaded?

Allegretti: My Top 5 songs: The Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Band; It’s a Great Day to Be Alive – Travis Tritt; In Color – Jamie Johnson; Watching You – Rodney Atkins; Springsteen – Eric Church

What would winning the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award mean to you?

Allegretti: Winning this award would mean the world to me. From working with uplifting athletes over the past four years I have met some incredible people and heard some unbelievable stories within the organization. I have also learned how helpful Uplifting Athletes is for the Rare Disease Community and how important it is to spread the word to continue battling rare diseases. To be able to represent this organization and community as the Rare Disease Champion would be an incredible honor.

For Seattle Seahawks WR Malik Turner the rare disease cause is personal


Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver Malik Turner is passionate about the rare disease cause.

He took part in Lift For Life as a member of the Illinois Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Turner also supported his cause by participating in the Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases campaign for his NFL Pro Day.

It was during his Reps For Rare Diseases campaign that Turner made the connection that one of his University of Illinois classmates, Holt Erikson, was a rare disease patient. Once he learned more about Holt’s story, Turner felt a deeper connection to his friend.  The rare disease cause became personal.

“What draws me closer to the rare disease cause is personally connecting with someone that has gone through the struggle,” Turner said. “That definitely drew me closer to it.”

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That deep and personal relationship moved Turner to do everything in his power to use his platform as an elite athlete to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope.

And Turner was not going to let an injury derail his commitment to making a difference for the Rare Disease Community.

Two weeks prior to his Pro Day workout Turner suffered a fracture in his foot. That injury meant he would not be able to participate in the biggest workout of his life.

Turner felt compelled, though, to honor his commitment to the rare disease cause and on his Pro Day still participated in the bench press. With his friend Holt on his mind, Turner went out and beat his bench press goal by one repetition despite being injured.

MALIK 1When he made it to the NFL, Turner wanted to continue that deeply personal 1-on-1 relationship with those battling rare diseases.

Once Turner secured a spot on the Seahawks roster, he almost immediately started looking for ways to do even more to support his cause. Working together, Turner and Uplifting Athletes teamed up to host an Uplifting Experience for a rare disease patient family in the greater Seattle area.

Earlier this month Turner hosted ADNP patient Tony Sermone, his twin brother Rocco and Tony’s parents, Sandra and Rich at the Seattle Seahawks’ Virginia Mason Athletic Center for several hours.

They toured the Seahawks locker room, interacted with other Seattle players, worked out on the practice field together and Turner walked them through a day in the life of an NFL player.

It was during this experience that Turner was able to show his passion for the rare disease cause – unveiling the cleats he will wear for the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign during this Sunday’s game at home against San Francisco.

MALIK FAMILY GAME

 

Above the Seattle skyline painted on the on the back of his right cleat, are the initials “T” and “S” in Tony’s honor. The initials “H” and “E” are on the back of left cleat above the block “I” University Illinois logo to honor Holt.

“I needed to be more aware of exactly what rare means and how it’s not funded and needs more attention. Connecting to Holt and Tony made me want to dig deeper,” Turner said. “I didn’t know whom I impacted and when I saw that … it impacted me.

“Those little things that are bigger than me and bigger than football is something that’s important to me.”

Turner has chosen the Rare Disease Community as his cause and is supporting Uplifting Athletes during the NFL My Cause My Cleats campaign.

He is asking you to support his cause by making a donation through his Tackle Rare Diseases campaign.

The proceeds raised by Turner’s My Cause My Cleats campaign supports the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

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Notre Dame sends 12-0 resume to College Football Playoff committee highlights Week 13 Chapter Update


NOTRE DAME LEADNotre Dame submitted its resume to the College Football Playoff committee unblemished after rallying from a season-high 10-point deficit on the road to edge USC and finish the regular season 12-0.

This marks the third time since 1998 Notre Dame has finished the regular season 12-0. The Fighting Irish, an NCAA Independent university, is looking to be part of the College Football Playoff for the first time.

USC raced to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter before Notre Dame reeled off 24 unanswered points, capped by quarterback Ian Book’s 51-yard catch-and-run screen pass to running back Tony Jones Jr with 3:09 to play to make it a two-score game. It was Jones’ first career touchdown.

Book threw for a career-high 352 yards to rally the Irish. The Notre Dame defense stood tall in the second half, surrendering only a late fourth-quarter touchdown and limiting the Trojans to 154 total yards.

Baylor: One year after the Bears went 1-11 under new head coach Matt Ruhle, Baylor became bowl eligible by rallying to upend Texas Tech in Arlington at AT&T Stadium. Baylor outscored Texas Tech 21-7 in the second half to erase a three-point halftime deficit. Quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns and added a 1-yard rushing touchdown on the first possession of the second half to put the Bears ahead for good.

NC State: The Wolfpack used a school-record tying five touchdowns from senior running back Reggie Gallaspy Jr. to post a come-from-behind overtime victory over rival North Carolina. It was the third time in a row NC State beat the Tar Heels. Gallaspy, who scored the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter and punched it over from 1-yard out in overtime to win it, also had a career-high 129 yards on the ground.

NC State running back Reggie Gallaspy Jr. tied a school record with five touchdowns and had a career-high 129 yards to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor.

Penn State: On senior day at Beaver Stadium it was the Nittany Lions’ young defense that stood out in a 35-point victory over the Terrapins. Penn State’s defense limited Maryland to a field goal and less than 100 yards rushing. The Nittany Lions also recorded 15 tackles behind the line of scrimmage – the most by Penn State in a Big Ten game since 2007. Sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos had a career-high 3.5 tackles for a loss giving him 20 on the season, becoming the 12th PSU player to reach 20 TFL’s but the first since 2008 (Aaron Maybin). Gross-Matos has recorded at least 1 TFL in 8 straight games.

Northwestern: The Wildcats completed a perfect regular season against Big Ten West foes by edging Illinois on Senior Day at Ryan Field. Northwestern will play Ohio State Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game. The win over the Illini gave the ‘Cats their 11th-straight victory versus West Division foes and Northwestern earned its 15th win in its last 16 Big Ten games, matching the best 16-game conference stretch in program history.

Syracuse: Quarterback Eric Dungey accounted for nearly 400 yards of total offense and was responsible for a career-high six touchdowns in the road victory at Boston College. The win gave the Orange nine regular-season victories, program’s most since the 2001 season. This was the eighth time Syracuse has scored 40 or more points this season. Those six touchdowns, three rushing and three passing, give Dungey 32 for the season, surpassing the school-record of 30 set by Donovan McNabb in 1998.

Clemson: The Tigers, set to play Pitt in the ACC Championship game, posted the highest total yards ever against South Carolina with 744 to finish the regular season 12-0. Clemson also went for more than 300 yards rushing and passing for the first time ever against the Gamecocks. The Tigers also set a record with three drives of 95 or more yards, the first time that’s ever happened in program history.

Chapter Scoreboard Week 13

 

 

 

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.