Annual Leadership Development Conference arms student-athlete chapter leaders with tools for success


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As Uplifting Athletes continues to evolve and expand its footprint as a champion of the rare disease community, our nationwide chapter network led by current college football student-athletes continues to be the rock of our foundation.

Educating and training these leaders on the mission and vision of Uplifting Athletes is critical to being able to use the power of sport to inspire the rare disease community with hope. We want to enable these student-athletes to have the biggest impact they can.

This past weekend in Philadelphia, 23 chapter leaders from 14 universities came together for Leadership Development Conference 2017.

Led by the Uplifting Athletes staff, the conference was three days of education, training and relationship building all centered around making a greater impact on the rare disease community.

“I wasn’t aware of how much Uplifting Athletes has done and is doing. The platform we have is such an opportunity,” said Christian Groomes, a chapter leader from Clemson. “It was cool to see all the opportunities we have to raise money and support rare diseases. I think we are going to be a hit at Clemson with some of the ideas we have now.”

Chapter leaders from Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Syracuse, Illinois, Florida State, Maryland, Stony Brook, Penn and Saint Francis committed a weekend of their short offseason to attend the conference.

Included in the workshop sessions on Saturday and Sunday were an overview of Uplifting Athletes, a team building exercise, Lift For Life and Touchdown Pledge Drive event planning, transferable life skills development, communication and social media training, and an introduction to rare disease patient engagement through Uplifting Experiences.

There was also a breakout session hosted by Kristen Angell from the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD).

In between work sessions, the student-athletes were able to experience some of the unique sights of Philadelphia. There was a cheesesteak lunch in Logan Park followed by a trip to the Art Museum and the “Rocky Steps” for team pictures. Lunch on Sunday was outside the famous City Hall, and the players were free Saturday evening to explore the city and spend some off time together.

“It was a great experience overall. I learned a lot and it was great to get to know the guys from other schools,” Penn State Chapter leader Jason Cabinda said. “There was a lot I can take back to the rest of the guys and share that will help us going forward.”

 

Uplifting Athletes set to host 24 student-athlete chapter leaders for 2017 Leadership Development Conference


LDC 17 GRAPHICFor our eighth consecutive year, we will gather college football student-athletes that are current or future chapter leaders together for three days of education and training during the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

This year 24 current football players from 13 universities across the country will travel to Philadelphia on Friday, May 19 to kick off a busy weekend of engaging work sessions, networking and relationship building.

Chapter leaders from Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Syracuse, Illinois, Florida State, Maryland, Stony Brook, Penn and Saint Francis will start the 2017 conference with a team meal Friday night prior to a full Saturday agenda.

The weekend agenda is driven by the Uplifting Athletes staff, but will also feature a breakout session focused on the rare disease community hosted by Kristen Angell from the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD).

Included in the workshop sessions on Saturday and Sunday are an overview of Uplifting Athletes, a team building exercise, Lift For Life and Touchdown Pledge Drive event planning, transferable life skills development, communication and social media training, and an introduction to rare disease patient engagement through Uplifting Experiences.

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.

 

Clemson Tigers highlight Uplifting Athletes Chapter bowl season by winning National Championship


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Clemson became the second university with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter to win the college football National Championship with its dramatic victory over defending champion Alabama.

Florida State won the final BCS National Championship in 2014 to cap a perfect 14-0 season.

Two of the last four champions of college football, Clemson and Florida State, are part of Uplifting Athletes student-athlete chapter network.

The Clemson Chapter held its inaugural Lift For Life event this past summer and also held a Touchdown Pledge Drive for the Syracuse game this season in support of the rare disease community.

Congratulations to the Tigers on winning their first National Championship since 1981 and thanks to Clemson Chapter President and punter Andy Teasdall for all his hard work in making 2016 a success on and off the field.

Big Ten champion Penn State and Pac-12 winner Washington each finished its respective seasons with losses, but that won’t diminish the huge strides forward each program made nationally.

The Huskies fell to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal and the Nittany Lions were part of a thrilling and record setting Rose Bowl game won by USC.

Clemson climbed the highest mountain in college football by winning it all, but five other programs with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter ended the 2016 campaign on a high note with a victory in their respective bowl game.

Florida State edged Michigan in the Orange Bowl, Northwestern held off Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl, Georgia Tech nearly doubled up Kentucky in the Taxslayer Bowl, NC State put up 42 points on Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl and Baylor snapped its losing streak by rolling Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.

Maryland, Nebraska and South Carolina were also part of the 2016 bowl slate but came up just short.

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!

 

Plenty of success on the field in 2016 for Uplifting Athletes Chapters including pair in College Football Playoff and duo sharing Ivy League crown


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The 2016 season was another strong year for Uplifting Athletes Chapter schools on the football field.

Two of the four teams in the College Football Playoff are aligned with Uplifting Athletes. Three programs won a Power 5 FBS Conference Championships, and a pair our FCS schools shared the Ivy League title.

Pac-12 champion Washington and ACC winner Clemson will compete in the College Football Playoff as the Nos. 4 and 2 seeds, respectively.

Penn State joined the Huskies and Tigers in claiming conference bragging rights when the Nittany Lions stormed back to edge Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

The Nittany Lions just missed out on the College Football Playoff, finishing No. 5 overall, but the consolation prize is a trip the Rose Bowl.

Congratulations to the Princeton Tigers and Penn Quakers on winning the Ivy League crown. This was the second consecutive year Penn shared the Ivy title. Princeton last won at least a share of the Ivy League championship was 2013.

Joining Washington, Clemson and Penn State in the college football bowl season are Baylor, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, NC State, Nebraska, Northwestern and South Carolina.

Thank you to all the Uplifting Athletes Chapters for making the rare disease community a priority in 2016.

 

 

NC State Chapter uses player-run practice as Lift For Life event to support rare disease community



For the second consecutive year the NC State Chapter used its player-run practice to hold its annual Lift For Life inside the Close-King Indoor Practice Facility Wednesday night.

This was the sixth Lift For Life held by the NC State Chapter as part of Uplifting Athletes and continued its mission of using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

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

“This year, a lot like last year, we decided to do our Lift For Life on a Wednesday when we do our player-run practices. We do 7-on-7 and one-on-ones and fans could come out and actually see us practice,” said NC State Chapter President and quarterback Josh Taylor.

“When I first heard about Uplifting Athletes at NC State it was something I wanted to get involved in. As college football players this is something we can use our platform as athletes to make a difference in the community.”

Wolfpack fans were able to watch the 2016 team work out and then interact with the squad all in support of the rare disease community.

You can still support the NC State Chapter and help the Wolfpack reach their fundraising goal by making a donation to the NC State Chapter fundraising site.

Proceeds from the NC State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes annual Lift For Life supports rare disease research and patient focused programs.

“One thing we’ve been able to do is get the word out to the triangle community about how rare disease affect Americans and raise money to support this great cause,” said NC State Chapter Vice President and tight end Cole Cook. “Thanks to everybody who came out to watch us and donated. We really appreciate it and we hope to use what we’re doing here to make a further impact and help find a cure for rare diseases.”

The NC State Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2011 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led NC State Chapter serves the rare disease community in honor of former offensive coordinator Dana Bible, who battled the rare disease acute promyelocytic leukemia in 2009.

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

Please consider helping the NC State Chapter tackle rare diseases by making a donation to support the rare disease community.

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NC State Chapter annual Lift For Life set for July 20th


NC STATE LFL 16 GRAPHICComing off its biggest Lift for Life fundraising effort ever a year ago, The NC State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its 2016 Lift For Life event on Wednesday, July 20th.

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

The Wolfpack Chapter will continue its mission of using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport. This will be the sixth NC State Chapter Lift For Life as part of Uplifting Athletes.

This year the NC State Chapter Lift For Life will take place at the Close-King Indoor Practice Facility starting at 6:30 p.m. The NC State Lift For

Fans are encouraged to come out and support the 2016 Wolfpack football team as they help bring the vision of Uplifting Athletes to life; which is to empower people to take action against rare diseases and inspires the medical community to find cures.

NC State Chapter leaders chose to break down the Lift For Life fundraising by position groups. Each player on the Wolfpack roster is part of a team, so you can find your favorite player and make a donation for his team.

In order to support the NC State Chapter and help the Wolfpack reach their $7,500 Lift For Life goal, visit the NC State Chapter fundraising site.

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

The NC State Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2011 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led NC State Chapter serves the rare disease community in honor of former offensive coordinator Dana Bible, who battled the rare disease acute promyelocytic leukemia in 2009.

Bible continued to coach during his treatments, but the players showed compassion for their coach and filled the gaps when Bible struggled to physically perform some of his regular day-to-day tasks. Despite his struggles, Bible still managed to attend every practice.

Please consider helping the NC State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes tackle rare diseases.