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.

NC State Chapter Leader Thomas Ruocchio values opportunity to come together and support a common cause


When NC State tight end Thomas Ruocchio headed to Philadelphia for his first Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference in 2017, he was anticipating a weekend of business and logistics meetings.

Four years later, the outgoing NC State Chapter President appreciates the weekend of connecting with other college football student-athletes bound together by the rare disease cause.

The 2020 conference, held in late January, was Ruocchio’s fourth as a chapter leader and gives him the unique distinction of attending the single most Leadership Development Conferences by a student-athlete.

“I remember the first time I came, I thought this was going to be all about business and logistics,” Ruocchio said. “I’ve learned over my coming four times there is a logistical aspect to this because there has to be. But even more than just the nuts and bolts of running a chapter, it’s about becoming a leader and getting some valuable life skills for everyone involved.”

The annual Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference provides an opportunity for college football student-athlete leaders from different schools to develop relationships that stretch beyond the field, absorb enhanced mission and vision knowledge based on Uplifting Athletes’ four programs and plot a chapter strategy for the upcoming year.

Ruocchio is drawn to the relationships established at the conference and the ability to have 30-40 guys going through the same experiences on different campuses around the country sharing those unique aspects of their journey.

“I was telling my mom about this conference before this year, about what a unique opportunity this is,” Ruocchio said. “The only way to share what you are going through as a college football player is with a teammate. And he’s going through the exact same experience you are.

“Here in Atlanta this year, you get to hear about 30-something unique individual experiences from guys at 20 different football programs. I really enjoy being able to hear everybody’s unique story. It’s a chance to come together to support a common cause and to each share our unique individual stories. You can’t get that anywhere else.”

This year because the conference had an odd number of student-athletes, as the veteran of the group, Ruocchio was offered his own room. But part of the charm of this conference, in his opinion, is being paired up with a roommate from a different school each year.

“I could have probably come to one or two of these and been able to run our chapter at NC State. It’s run so well and we are given all the right tools to be successful at this conference,” he said. “Coming back for the whole experience and meeting people has kept me coming back. I’m sad it’s my last one as a player and chapter leader.”

A lot has changed at Uplifting Athletes during Ruocchio’s tenure as a chapter leader at NC State. His four years of experience has helped, but overall he sees the leadership conference as a strong foundation to have a successful year as a chapter. And recent additions, such as the player panel and an Uplifting Experience, provides an all-around better foundation for young chapter leaders.

“My favorite part has always been the player panel. I always find the questions are so real-life and you don’t run into too many people on campus who can provide you those real-life answers to some of those questions we have about life after football,” Ruocchio said. “I’m on the cusp of being that guy who will start a life after football with the clock ticking, it’s been so valuable to hear from others.”

From a fundraising perspective, the four programs and the Young Investigator Draft have also helped everybody from teammates, to compliance, to each individual donor understand the value of each dollar raised and how it’s being put to good use.

“It’s helped from my perspective as a chapter leader so much to see exactly how the organization is using some of the funds we raise at the chapter level. It’s also given me a much more personal connection to the cause,” Ruocchio said. “Instead of just focusing on raising cash, we are able to connect to the cause. It’s a much clearer understanding of what we are doing together. Early on as a chapter leader I couldn’t really see the entire picture and I don’t know if that was just me being a young chapter leader or what? But I know and understand the cause and our part much clearer today.”

On behalf of the Rare Disease Community we serve, Uplifting Athletes would like to thank Thomas for his dedicated commitment and service to the rare disease cause during his time as a college football student-athlete at NC State.

39 Uplifting Athletes Chapter Leaders put through paces in Atlanta during 11th annual Leadership Development Conference


The cornerstone of the Uplifting Leaders program is our network of Chapters on campuses across the country led by college football student-athletes.

This past weekend, 39 leaders from 20 schools gathered in Atlanta for a high impact and fast paced weekend of learning and development during our 11th annual Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

The 2020 conference provided an opportunity for our Chapter leadership to develop relationships that stretch beyond the football field, to absorb enhanced mission and vision insight based on Uplifting Athletes’ four programs – Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders – and to plot a chapter strategy for 2020.

“The difference for me this year was it’s a new group of guys mostly, but you establish similar quality of relationships,” said Clemson Chapter leader and Tigers’ long snapper Jack Maddox, who was attending his second conference. “I have a year of experience now, so I know more about what’s going on. I’m not overwhelmed as much and I know what we can and can’t do at our chapter. It’s such a valuable weekend.”

Following a meet-and-greet dinner Friday night, the conference kicked off Saturday with a full day of programming. Four breakout sessions led by Uplifting Athletes staff were followed by an “entering the real world” question-and-answer session with former college athletes.

The highlight of Saturday was the Uplifting Experience at the College Football Hall of Fame where 24 rare disease patients, caregivers and families were connected with the Chapter leaders to spend a couple hours experiencing the Hall of Fame together.

“I loved that the athletes had an opportunity to meet individuals with rare diseases outside of a hospital setting,” said Carol Unger, whose 32-year-old son Matthew is diagnosed with the ultra rare disease WAGR Syndrome. “I feel it is important to note that our children grow up, although some may still be at the maturity level of a 7 or 8 year old, and cherish those opportunities to meet with folks from the outside world.”

The first day of the conference closed out with a work session on three of Uplifting Athletes’ main events – Lift For Life, Reps For Rare Diseases and Touchdown Pledge Drive.

“Since Penn State is such an established chapter, my journey here is to learn what else can we do next to help support the Rare Disease Community,” said Penn State Chapter leader and long snapper Chris Stoll, who is in line to be the next PSU Chapter President taking over for quarterback Sean Clifford.

“I’m very excited to be more involved at another level. Sean did a great job and put a lot into it. But he’s our starting quarterback now and that’s a big job. I’m pumped to be here again and to meet so many guys who have passion for the rare disease cause and for using their platform to make a difference. And I’m very excited to get more involved at the next level.”

Sunday started with Dr. David Fajgenbaum, a former Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft grant recipient, founder of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network and rare disease research pioneer, sharing his story via a live video conference.

The conference wrapped up with some additional highlights of Uplifting Athletes’ programming that is available to support the rare disease cause and a work session to kick off 2020 at the chapter level.

A special thank you to all our sponsors and supporters who made this conference possible, Deloitte, Sanofi Genzyme, Jean Campbell and JFC Consulting and the College Football Hall of Fame. With your help, these young men are making a difference in the Rare Disease Community.

Chapter Update: Dramatic comeback makes Illinois bowl eligible and 10 teams post Week 11 victories


With a flair for the dramatic, Illinois became bowl eligible for the first time since 2014 with an improbable come-from-behind victory at Michigan State.

The Illini trailed 28-3 in the second quarter and 31-10 entering the fourth quarter.  In the end, Quarterback Brandon Peters threw a 5-yard touchdown to Daniel Barker with five seconds remaining to complete the rally and seal the victory.

On the final drive, Illinois converted a fourth-and-17 and drew a fourth-down pass interference call in the end zone before scoring. Peters finished with 369 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, a transfer from USC, had four receptions for 178 yards and two touchdowns. The junior’s 178 yards is the most receiving yards by an opponent at Spartan Stadium since at least 2000 and the most by an Illinois player ever in the 47-game series history against Michigan State.

The Illini, who forced four turnovers to help fuel the comeback, have won four straight.

Baylor: The Bears stayed undefeated thanks to a triple overtime victory at TCU. The opportunity to win the game in overtime came courtesy of redshirt freshman kicker John Mayers. His previous long field goal was 38 yards. His career-best 51-yard kick with 36 seconds remaining in regulation pulled the Bears level at 9-9. Charlie Brewer’s 4-yard TD pass to Denzel Mims in the third OT was the game winner. Baylor is 9-0 for the second time in program history after opening the 2013 season with nine victories in a row.

Penn: The Quakers’ eventual game winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter came on a trick play that started in the hands of the backup quarterback who threw back to a transfer quarterback/returner/receiver who then uncorked an 80-yard touchdown pass to a converted defensive back who’d never caught a touchdown before. The long distance catch-and-run by Eric Markes from Owen Goldsberry gave Penn a 21-14 lead. Cornell scored a touchdown to cap a 16-play, 94-yard drive with 50 seconds remaining to pull to within a point. The Big Red opted to go for the win with a 2-point conversion, but Penn freshman DB Kendren Smith knocked down the pass to preserve the victory.

Notre Dame: Senior quarterback Ian Book threw four touchdown passes and rushed for 149 yards in the win over Duke to become the first player in Notre Dame history to rush for more than 100 yards in a game and throw four touchdown passes. Notre Dame Chapter Vice President and linebacker Drew White led the Irish with seven total tackles including a sack and a tackle for a loss.

Learn more about Notre Dame Chapter Vice President and tight end Brock Wright in our Beyond The Trophy series

Davidson: On a day when the Wildcats rushing attack rolled up more than 450 yards and amassed a 33-point second quarter, this victory was also one for the program record books. Junior running back Wesley Dugger took over as the all-time leading rusher in school history as part of his 118-yard effort in the win over Butler. Dugger moved past John Leverett’s mark of 3,165 yards posted in 2004 to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week. Davidson Chapter President and linebacker George Hatalowich had six tackles for a defense that limited Butler to one touchdown and only 257 total yards.

Western Michigan: Senior quarterback Jon Wassink had a career-high 131 rushing yards in the victory over Ball State. Wassink became the first WMU quarterback to rush for more than 100 yards since Paul Jorgenson had 128 against Northern Illinois in 1973. The victory made the Broncos bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive season. WMU also completed its third undefeated season at home since 2000. 

Clemson: Running back Travis Etienne added three more touchdowns to his career resume in the victory over NC State to pass C.J. Spiller’s mark of 51 career touchdowns and take over as the all-time leader at Clemson with 54 career touchdowns. His 50 career rushing touchdowns is tied for second most in ACC history. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns. It was the fifth consecutive game Lawrence threw at least three touchdowns passes to become the first quarterback in school history to pass for three scores in five straight games.

Florida State: The Seminoles scored 14 unanswered points in a 45-second span inside the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to pull away from Boston College. D.J. Matthews’ 60-yard touchdown pass from James Blackman with 1:48 to play made it 31-24 FSU. Jordan Travis made it a two-score game with a 66-yard gallop only 45 seconds later to extend the lead to 38-24. Blackman finished with 369 passing yards and wide receiver Terry Tamorrion had seven catches for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Colgate: Quarterback Grant Breneman rushed for a career-high 105 yards and added 195 yards through the air with a touchdown to help the Raiders notch their first home victory of the season with a win over Fordham. Colgate’s defense limited the visiting Rams to only 33 rushing yards and 208 total yards. The Raiders’ defense also added five tackles for a loss and three sacks.

Eastern Illinois: The Panthers used a furious second-half comeback that included a third-quarter successful onside kick to rally past Tennessee State for their first win of the season. EIU outscored TSU 28-3 in the second half after falling behind 35-21 at intermission. Darshon McCullough led a pair of Panthers running backs with 155 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown.

Chapter Update: Touchdown with 16 seconds left propels Fordham and 10 team post Week 7 victories


Down to its last gasp, Fordham quarterback Tim DeMorant hit Fotis Kokosioulis on a fourth-down touchdown pass from 17 yards out with 16 seconds remaining to cap a thrilling come-from-behind Patriot League victory at Georgetown.

Fordham was on the cusp of losing its second game this season by a single score when DeMorant was picked off at the Rams 34 with 2:57 remaining.

The defense set the table for victory by holding serve against the Hoyas offense, coming up with a fourth-down stop. Fordham took over 73 yards from the end zone with 81 seconds remaining and no timeouts.

Three completions covering 55 yards moved the ball to the Georgetown 17 before three straight incompletions set up the final-play drama.

Rams RB Zach Davis notched his fourth straight 100-yard game and the 30 points by Fordham was the most surrendered by the Hoyas defense this year who came into the game ranked No. 2 in FCS scoring defense.

Penn State: Head coach James Franklin recorded his first career road victory in 12 attempts against a ranked opponent by edging Iowa to remain unbeaten. Penn State’s defense produced the only turnovers of the game in the second half and freshman RB Noah Cain had his second consecutive 100-yard effort to power the Nittany Lions.

NC State: For the second consecutive game the Wolfpack defense recorded eight sacks to subdue Syracuse in a low-scoring affair.  The Pack’s 16 total sacks in back-to-back games are the most in consecutive games in school history. The previous high was 14 (vs. UVA and UNC) in 1982.

Learn more about Syracuse Chapter Vice President and Punter/Kicker/Holder Nolan Cooney in our Beyond The Trophy series

Penn: The Quakers finished the non-conference portion of their schedule 2-2 thanks to four touchdowns and 178 rushing yards from Karekin Brooks.  The senior had three rushing touchdowns, caught a TD pass and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.

Kent State: Behind a defense that limited rival Akron to fewer than 300 yards, the Golden Flashes soared to the top of the MAC standings and claimed the Wagon Wheel game by rolling the Zips. Kent State Chapter President Antwan Dixon had five catches for Kent State.

Princeton: The Tigers improved to 4-0 and have now won 14 straight after overwhelming winless Lafayette. Collin Eaddy had three touchdown runs to power the Princeton offense and the defense limited the visitors to seven first downs and 162 yards of total offense on 57 plays.

Colgate: Defensive tackle Nick Wheeler registered two sacks against Bucknell to break a 38-year-old Colgate career sack record. Wheeler bumped his sack total to six for the season and 29½ for his career, passing Kelly Robinson, who tallied 28½ from 1979-81. Wheeler earned the Week 7 Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Baylor: The upstart Bears moved to 6-0 with a double OT victory over Texas Tech in a wild back-and-forth contest that saw the lead changed hands six times. Baylor QB Charlie Brewer struggled at times, but came through with three rushing touchdowns and an 81 yard march down the field late in the fourth quarter for a field goal to force overtime. In the second OT, Baylor won it with a 5-yard touchdown run by JaMycal Hasty.

Western Michigan: A 21-point second quarter explosion powered the Broncos to a homecoming victory over Miami (Ohio). Western Michigan is 4-0 at Waldo Stadium this season. Grad transfer Keith Mixon Jr. sparked the offense with touchdown catches covering 46 and 37 yards. WMU Chapter President Justin Tranquill tied for the team high in tackles with nine and also had a pass break-up. 

Notre Dame: Powered by running back Tony Jones’ career 176 rushing yards, the Fighting Irish jumped to a 17-3 halftime lead and held off a late charge from USC. Jones had 120 of those yards in the first half. 

Clemson: Behind a defense that produced four takeaways and limited Florida State to only 253 total yards, the defending National Champion Tigers became just the 15th FBS program to reach 750 all-time wins, and the first ACC program to reach that mark. Clemson RB Travis Etienne finished with 127 yards, three touchdowns and became the seventh player in school history to rush for more than 3,000 yards.

Chapter Update: Late field goal propels Baylor to 4-0 and 13 teams post Week 5 victories


Baylor redshirt freshman kicker John Mayers missed a 38-yard field goal early in the game, but drilled one from the same distance into a stiff wind with just 21 seconds remaining to propel the Bears to 4-0 overall with the victory in their Big 12 opener over Iowa State.

Late in the third quarter, the Bears led 20-0 before the Cyclones offense caught fire and ripped off 21 unanswered points on three consecutive drives to surge in front with 3:45 to play.

Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer rallied his squad with a clutch 13-play, 54-yard drive that set up the winning field goal. Brewer was 7-of-10 on the decisive drive and converted three times on third-down plays.

The Bears have won six straight games (dating back to 2018 season) for the first time since opening the 2016 season 6-0.

Penn State: Sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford had a career night and set a school record in only his fourth start. The Penn State Chapter President set personal records for yards passing (398) and completions (26) and he set a school record for passing yards in a half with 287 in the blowout of Maryland. Clifford also scored the first rushing touchdown of his career on the Nittany Lions first snap from scrimmage. The shutout by the Penn State defense was the first at Maryland since 1970.

Penn: Senior running back Karekin Brooks scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs covering 2 and 31 yards to seal a road victory at Lafayette for the Quakers’ first win of the season. Penn was nursing a four-point lead entering the final 15 minutes before Brooks found the end zone twice. He finished with 202 yards on 29 carries.

Brooks’ 202-yard game was the third 200-plus yard game of his career and in the process he became the first player in program history to post three career 200-plus yard games to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Western Michigan: The Victory Cannon will stay in Kalamazoo for the seventh time in the last nine years after the Broncos rolled over in-state rival Central Michigan. The WMU defense limited the Chippewas to 107 rushing yards and shut them out for three quarters. Western Michigan Chapter President Justin Tranquill recorded the first sack of his career, his second interception in 2019 and also had a tackle for a loss. 

Lehigh: It took one of the best defensive efforts in recent Mountain Hawks history for Lehigh to post its first victory of the season. Despite being on the field a whopping 37 minutes, the Mountain Hawk defense held Merrimack to minus-25 yards rushing, recorded six sacks, posted two takeaways and the only points Lehigh surrendered was a second-quarter field goal. 

Notre Dame: Behind a defense that posted eight sacks and five turnovers, the Fighting Irish rallied from its first halftime deficit of the season to outscore Virginia 21-3 in the second half in a battle of previously Top 20 ranked teams. Defensive end Julian Okwara led the defense with 3 sacks, two quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles, both of which led to Irish touchdowns. Notre Dame Chapter President Drew White tied for the team-high in tackles with seven including five solo stops.

Saint Francis: A blocked punt set up the Red Flash for the only touchdown of the game in a defensive tussle in Rhode Island with Bryant. In it’s three wins, Saint Francis has only surrendered 14, 13 and six points. In a game that saw the two squads combined for 20 punts, the Red Flash defense limited Bryant to 210 total yards, a pair of field goals and 2 of 17 on third down. SFU Chapter President Nick Rinella paced the defense with eight tackles including seven solo stops and a tackle for a loss.

Florida State: Quarterback Alex Hornibook, a graduate transfer from Wisconsin, made his first career start for the Seminoles and threw for a career-high 316 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over NC State. The victory over the Wolfpack marked the first time since 2016 that FSU has posted back-to-back victories in ACC games since the 2016 season.

Learn more about NC State Chapter Vice President Dylan Autenrieth in our Beyond The Trophy series

Stony Brook: Junior quarterback Tyquell Fields scrambled 50 yards for a touchdown on a fourth-down play to score with 11 seconds remaining to give the Seawolves a dramatic come-from-behind road victory in their CAA opener. Stony Brook and Rhode Island combined to score 37 points in the wild fourth quarter that saw URI score a pair of touchdowns in less than 30 seconds inside the final 2 minutes to erase a 10-point deficit.

Syracuse: Quarterback Tommy DeVito, the first-year starter for the Orange, threw four touchdown passes for the second consecutive game becoming only the second Syracuse quarterback in program to have multiple four-plus touchdown games during his career in the comfortable win over Holy Cross. Former Orange signal caller Ryan Nassib threw four TD passes in a game four times during his career.

Princeton: Senior quarterback Andrew Davidson, making only his second start for the Tigers, broke the Princeton and Ivy League single-game record for touchdown passes in a game with seven in the victory over Bucknell. Senior wide receiver Andrew Griffin hauled in four of those touchdown passes to tie the 28-year-old school and Ivy League record for touchdowns by a wide receiver in a game. 

Fordham: Rams linebacker Ryan Greenhagen, coming off back-to-back Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors, appears to be a strong candidate to make it three in a row after posting 13 tackles, including 10 solo, a career-high 4.5 tackles for a loss and one sack in a victory over Richmond. Defensive back Dervin Hylton Jr. knocked down a pair of passes in the end zone in the dying seconds to preserve the second win of the season for Fordham.

Clemson: The defending National Champions made it 20 victories in a row thanks to its defense stuffing North Carolina on a two-point conversion attempt inside the final two minutes to preserve a one-point victory over the Tar Heels. It was the first road victory for the Tigers at North Carolina since 2002.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know NC State tight end and Chapter Vice President Dylan Autenrieth


Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Dylan Autenrieth

College: North Carolina State University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-4, 240-pound, redshirt junior, tight end

High School: North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga.

About Dylan: This is the third consecutive year Dylan has been a regular and consistent contributor for the Wolfpack as a tight end and on special teams. Saw action in every game as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and in 2018 was the Co-recipient of the team’s Bo Rein Award, given to the player who provides vital contribution in an unsung role. Last season Dylan also registered his first career catch in a road win at Louisville. Several recent NC State Chapter Leaders have come out of the Wolfpack’s tight end room, and Dylan stepped up in 2019 to serve the Rare Disease Community by attending the Leadership Development Conference and serving at the Vice President. The two-time Academic All-ACC selection already has three catches for 40 yards this season – both career-high numbers.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

AUTENRIETH: It would have to be running out of the tunnel every Game day. Doesn’t get much better than that.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

AUTENRIETH: One of my teammates told me about it and about the cause and I wanted to be a part of something special like Uplifting Athletes.  

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

AUTENRIETH: I have learned from this how having a good cause and motivation can get you a long way, and you can impact a lot of people!

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

AUTENRIETH: Just be yourself.  Do not try to act like someone you are not to fit in.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

AUTENRIETH: Tom Brady because of how consistent he is and how long he has been dominate for… It is just impressive how he still tears apart defenses as a 42 year old.

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

AUTENRIETH: Kobe Bryant just because of his competitive nature. I would love to just pick apart his brain and see what he has to share with me.  

DYLAN ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

AUTENRIETH: Meat lovers

All time favorite movie?

AUTENRIETH: Law Abiding Citizen

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

AUTENRIETH: Subway

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

AUTENRIETH: New York Football Giants

What is the most used app on your phone?

AUTENRIETH: Twitter

Get ready for Touchdown Pledge Drive 2019 coming this October


Every touchdown scored during the month of October by participating members of the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters will help support the Rare Disease Community.

Uplifting Athletes chapters are run by college football student-athletes. So, for fans, this is a great way to support the players on your favorite team in their off-the-field efforts by supporting their on-field performance.

“Uplifting Athletes’ college football chapters provide a unique platform to raise awareness for the Rare Disease Community. Touchdown Pledge Drive is an in-season student-athlete led initiative to shine a national spotlight on rare diseases,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett said. “We are grateful to each and every school that is participating this year by spreading awareness and encouraging their fans to pledge per touchdown scored during games in October to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes.”

Clemson, Colgate, Davidson, Fordham, Illinois, Kent State, Lehigh, Marist, NC State, Northwestern, Penn, Penn State, Saint Francis, Stony Brook,  Syracuse and Western Michigan chapters have each committed to helping Uplifting Athletes Tackle Rare Diseases by participating in Touchdown Pledge Drive 2019.

Fans can simply make a pledge to their favorite college-football student-athlete led chapter for each touchdown they score in October. Then as the games unfold, watch and cheer as each touchdown scored helps raise money to support the Rare Disease Community.

The proceeds from Touchdown Pledge Drive 2019 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 using college football as a platform to shine a spotlight on the Rare Disease Community, and support their efforts by signing up for Touchdown Pledge Drive 2019 today!