Chapter Update: Record setting home opener for Western Michigan highlights Week 3


It was a record setting night inside Western Michigan’s Waldo Stadium, as the Broncos offense ran wild over Georgia State with nearly 700 total yards.

Four WMU running backs combined to score a program-record seven touchdowns. The seven rushing touchdowns are also the fifth most by a Mid-American Conference (MAC) team in a single game.

Senior running back LeVante Bellamy led the offensive explosion with 192 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Freshman Sean Tyler chipped in with 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns to give the Broncos two backs with 100-plus yards for the fifth time in the last 30 games.

Western Michigan Chapter President Justin Tranquill, a safety for the Broncos, had four tackles, his second career interception and also had a pass break up.

Davidson: Led by a scrappy defense that limited West Virginia Wesleyan to fewer than 200 total yards, the Wildcats improved to 3-0 for the second consecutive season and posted its first shutout since the 2014 season. The Davidson offense registered a season-high 357 yards on the ground and for the third consecutive game did not surrender a point in the first half – grabbing a 17-0 lead at intermission. Davidson Chapter co-founders and leaders, linebacker George Hatalowich and safety Kevin Stipe, combined to make four tackles.

Northwestern: The Wildcats won their home opener over UNLV on the strength of nearly 450 yards of total offense and a defense that forced three turnovers and held the Rebels scoreless in the second half. Running back Drake Anderson had a career day, posting 141 yards on 26 carries, including a seven-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Defensive end Joe Gaziano had a monster game with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Gaziano is only the fourth Wildcats player since 2000 to have a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in a game. Northwestern Chapter Vice President Joe Spivak recorded the first solo tackle, sack and tackle for a loss of his career.

Learn more about Northwestern Chapter Vice President Joe Spivak in our Beyond The Trophy series

Penn State: Bolstered by a fourth-quarter goal line stand and a third quarter touchdown run by freshman running back Noah Cain, the Nittany Lions edged in-state rival Pitt in the 100th meeting between the two schools. The Panthers had first-and-goal from the 1-yard-line with less than five minutes to play trailing by a touchdown and came away with zero points. PSU Chapter President, starting quarterback Sean Clifford, threw for 222 yards. Nittany Lions kicker Jordan Stout broke the school record with a 57-yard field goal in the second quarter to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week award. The previous record was held by Chris Bahr, who booted three 55-yard field goals in 1975. Penn State Chapter Vice President Chris Stoll is the Nittany Lions’ long snapper and was part of Stout’s record kick.

Marist: Fifth-year senior wide receiver Anthony Olivencia hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass with 8:52 to play to vault the Red Foxes to their first victory of the season. Kicker Luke Paladino’s 49-yard field goal in the first quarter tied the school record, previously set in 2011. 

Stony Brook: The Seawolves won for the 11th consecutive time at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium behind a balanced offensive attack that overwhelmed visiting Wagner. Stony Brook had 551 total yards – 282 passing and 269 rushing. Quarterback Tyquell Fields, in his first season as the starter, registered his career-best in completions (11) and yards (282). Fields’ 282 yards was the most by a Stony Brook quarterback since the 2013 season. Stony Brook Chapter President, tight end Zach Lucas, had a pair of catches for 15 yards.

Clemson: The No. 1 team in the country set a school record for consecutive victories with win No. 18 on the road at Syracuse. The 18th win in a row surpassed the mark of 17 set in 2014-15. The Tigers defense recorded eight sacks and limited the Orange to fewer than 200 total yards. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence set a new career-high in passing yards with 395 and three touchdowns. Clemson Chapter President, punter Will Spiers, averaged 40.5 yards on six punts with a long of 53 yards.

Saint Francis: The Red Flash improved to 2-1 overall on the strength of a balanced offense and a strong second half to pull away from Merrimack in its home opener. Saint Francis outscored the visitors 22-0 over the final two quarters and were a perfect 7-for-7 in the red zone with five touchdowns.

Notre Dame: Behind a defense that produced three first-half interceptions including a pick-six to open the scoring and a 31-point second quarter the Top 10 nationally ranked Fighting Irish rolled over New Mexico to record their 12th consecutive victory at home. Notre Dame Chapter co-Vice President, linebacker Drew White, registered four tackles including one tackle for a loss.

Fordham: The Rams exploded in the fourth quarter with 23 unanswered points to rally from behind to knock off Bryant on the road to record victory No. 1 of the season. Limited to a trio of field goals for more than three quarters, Fordham ripped off touchdowns covering 48, 45 and 20 yards in a 5-minute span the second half of the fourth quarter to pull away.

Chapter Update: 13 teams committed to Tackling Rare Diseases open 2019 season with victories


Terrell Johnson hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass with 77 seconds remaining and Trevor Thompson nailed the extra point to help Saint Francis win its season opener in come-from-behind fashion on the road at Lehigh by a point.

The Red Flash victory wasn’t without plenty of late drama, though. Lehigh moved the ball down the field from its own 3-yard-line in the dying seconds and had a 40-yard field goal attempt to win it. Mountain Hawks kicker Austin Henning nailed his first attempt, but SFU had called timeout to ice him before the kick. His second attempt sailed wide right.

Saint Francis Chapter President Nick Rinella came up with the key play of the second half to keep the Red Flash on the comeback trail. After trailing 13-0 at halftime, Saint Francis cut the deficit to 13-7 late in the third quarter. Lehigh answered with a solid drive and was inside the SFU 10 when Rinella jumped a slant route on second down and returned the interception 34 yards.

Learn more about Lehigh Chapter President Jorge Portorreal in our Beyond The Trophy series.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions rolled up the third most total yards in school history – 673 – while limiting Idaho to five first downs and less than 150 total yards in the blowout victory. The Nittany Lions saw five running backs score seven rushing touchdowns, PSU Chapter President Sean Clifford threw for 280 yards and a couple scores in his first career start and the defense totaled seven sacks and 11 tackles for a loss.

Stony Brook: Powered by a balanced offense and a stingy run defense the Seawolves won at home for the 10th time in a row. Stony Brook’s defense set the tone when DB Synceir Malone returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown to open scoring in the first quarter.

Syracuse: The nationally ranked Orange rode a defense that posted eight sacks, limited Liberty to minus-4 yards rushing and pitched a shutout to overcome a new-look offense that sputtered at times. It was Syracuse’s first away-game shutout since the Orange won at Tulane (24-0) on Sept. 28, 1991.

Davidson: Running back William Wicks capped an 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to propel the Wildcats past Georgetown. Davidson led 20-0 at halftime before the Hoyas rallied with 20 third-quarter points off a trio of Wildcat turnovers. 

Illinois: New Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters threw for a trio of touchdowns and rushed for another and the Illinois defense limited Akron to fewer than 200 yards in a comfortable and complete victory. This was the 22nd victory for the Illini in a home opener – the fourth longest active streak in the country.

Western Michigan: Senior quarterback John Wassink threw for 368 yards and tied a career-best with five touchdown passes to power the Broncos to an impressive 35-point home victory over Monmouth. It was the third 300-plus yard passing game of Wassink’s career and the second year in a row he reached that number in the season opener after throwing for 379 a year ago against Syracuse.

Clemson: The consensus No. 1 team in the country opened the defense of its National Championship by running past Georgia Tech. Powered by a career day from running back Travis Etienne, the Tigers rushed for 411 yards – the most by Clemson in a season opener since 1957 and the most allowed by the Yellow Jackets since 1975. Etienne rushed for 205 yards and three touchdowns. His 90-yard gallop in the first quarter tied for the longest run in school history and is the longest run by a Tiger at Memorial Stadium to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor.

Notre Dame: The final score might say this was a comfortable road opener for the Fighting Irish, but it wasn’t. Notre Dame trailed 14-7 in the first quarter and relied on an 11-yard touchdown run by QB Ian Book just before the half to pave the path to victory. Turnovers were key, as the Irish defense forced five fumbles and recovered three of them.

NC State: New Wolfpack quarterback Matthew McKay became only the third NC State quarterback since 1970 to throw for more than 300 yards in his first career start in their victory over East Carolina. He joins Phillip Rivers (2000) and Harrison Beck (2007) in this exclusive club. McKay totaled 308 yards through the air with a touchdown and also added a pair of rushing scores for an NC State team that is rebuilding. Six players made their first college start and 17 players made their NC State debut including 10 freshmen.

Maryland: New starting quarterback Josh Jackson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, threw four touchdown passes in his Maryland debut to help the Terrapins shatter the school record for points in a half with 56 in the blowout of Howard. 

Baylor: RB Trestan Ebner and WR R.J. Sneed combined to score five touchdowns for the Bears in a rout of Stephen F. Austin at home.

Richmond: The Spiders used 31 first-half points to subdue Jacksonville and record their 14th straight victory in a home opener – a streak that started in 2005 and is inside the Top 10 for FCS schools nationally.

Lift For Life 2019 was a tremendous success and saw a record 21 college football chapters hold events


Over the course of five months, earlier this year, a record 21 members of the Uplifting Athletes’ chapter network held our signature event, Lift For Life, to raise awareness and funds in support of the Rare Disease Community.

Lift For Life 2019 was conducted in two phases. It started in Philadelphia with Penn on February 23 and finished in Waco, Texas with Baylor on July 24.

In between, the impact these student-athletes had on the Rare Disease Community, using their platform and voice as college football players to inspire others and support the cause, was staggering.

“While each program uses their platform in their own unique way, the common thread that unifies our chapter network is the forward thinking that enables these special student-athletes to empower their teammates to share their spotlight in order to shed light on a community that truly needs, values and appreciates the support,” said Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett. “Uplifting Athletes is humbled to work with such incredible student-athletes.”

During this year’s Lift For Life season, the audience created by these 21 chapters was over 52 million. More than 34 million of that came through social media followers and another 18.5 million was generated by online news focused on the 2019 events.

Every Lift For Life is unique at each university campus, but the driving force behind the event is the same for all our chapters nationwide. Lift For Life is an opportunity for teams to take a regular strength and conditioning workout and use it to raise money and awareness for the Rare Disease Community.

This year, Lift For Life raised nearly $175,000. The proceeds from Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Once Penn kicked off Lift For Life 2019, Phase 1 charged into high gear with Stony Brook, Saint Francis, Davidson, Lehigh, Marist and Princeton holding events in March, April and May.

Phase 2 of Lift For Life was ignited by Northwestern and Western Michigan lighting the fuse with events in May and June, respectively.

That set the table for the Rare Road Trip 2019 – the final Lift For Life blitz that saw 12 chapters hold events over a 12-day period in July.

Kent State started the Rare Road Trip 2019 ball rolling and was followed by Penn State, Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Syracuse, Maryland, Notre Dame, Colgate, Illinois, Eastern Illinois and was capped off by Baylor.

The record 21 FBS and FCS chapters that gave their all to support the Rare Disease Community represented 10 NCAA Football Conferences including: Ivy League, Colonial Athletic Association, Northeast Conference, Pioneer Football League, Big Ten Conference, Mid-American Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Patriot League, Big 12 and Ohio Valley Conference.

Congratulations to Lehigh, Marist, Western Michigan, Kent State and Eastern Illinois for each holding its inaugural Lift For Life this year. It’s an honor to have those programs join our team.

“Lift For Life 2019 reached new heights with a record number of chapters hosting events and five programs holding their first Lift For Life as part of our team,” Brackett said. “We are grateful to everyone involved for making Lift For Life a success and joining us to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope.”

Rare Road Trip 2019 closes the curtain on Lift For Life season


Phase 2 of Uplifting Athletes’ network of chapters Lift For Life season was culminated with Rare Road Trip 2019.

In the spring, seven of our chapters held these signature events to support our mission to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

Those seven schools set the table for the other 14 chapters to finish strong.

Before the road trip officially launched, Northwestern and Western Michigan kicked off the second phase of Lift For Life season. 

It was the inaugural Lift For Life for the Broncos from Western Michigan and Northwestern held its first outdoor event at the Wildcats’ new facility bordering Lake Michigan.

Then Rare Road Trip 2019 kicked into high gear with 12 chapters holding events in 12 days between July 12-24.

Kent State, Penn State, Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Syracuse, Maryland, Colgate, Notre Dame, Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Baylor were the dozen schools that comprised  Rare Road Trip 2019.

For the Kent State and Eastern Illinois Chapters, being part of the Rare Road Trip was their first experience as members of the Uplifting Athletes team.

“Having the opportunity to give back to others as a member of the Rare Disease Community myself is very important to me,” Kent State Chapter President and Golden Flashes wide receiver Antwan Dixon said. “Also, having my teammates and coaches being all-in so that we can raise money for raise disease patients is such a blessing. We are all proud to be part of a team that is working so hard to Tackle Rare Diseases.”

Every Lift For Life is unique at each university campus, but the driving force behind the event is the same for all our chapters nationwide. Lift For Life is an opportunity for teams to take a regular strength and conditioning workout and use it to raise money and awareness for the Rare Disease Community.

The Notre Dame Chapter had a remarkable summer. In June the Fighting Irish held their annual Uplifting Experience Bowling event and welcomed a record number of patients, siblings and caregivers for a few hours of recreation and fun. Then Notre Dame football student-athletes used their platform to raise a chapter record $20,000-plus at Lift For Life while also using social media to raise awareness for the Rare Disease cause.

“Uplifting Athletes is an incredible opportunity for us to use our platform as college athletes to raise awareness for a great cause,” said Notre Dame Chapter Vice President and tight end Brock Wright. “It is very special for our program to be able to work with an organization that can make an impact in the fight against rare diseases. Lift for Life gave us a chance to contribute to this fight.”

Sharing a little about each stop on the Rare Road Trip: Penn State held it’s 17th annual Lift For Life, Maryland and Florida State held signature events again after a one-year absence on the schedule, and Colgate reached double-digits in years holding Lift For Life events as they were the second college football program to join our team.

Each year, Lift For Life at Syracuse grows stronger roots in the community, defending National Champion Clemson crushed its fundraising goal, NC State put on a great show for its fans with a unique 1-on-1 workout session, the Illinois Chapter flourished after the Fighting Illini made a few changes to their workout style under new strength coach Lou Hernandez and the Texas summer isn’t the only heat coming from Waco, Texas as the Baylor program turned in a fiery Lift For Life for the second straight year.

“At the University of Illinois, Uplifting Athletes and its Lift for Life are a tradition. Uplifting Athletes is a tremendous way for our teammates to use their platform as college athletes,” Illinois Chapter President and tight end Bobby Walker said. “We all care about what we do on the field, but the work outside of it is very important as well, which is why this event is so important to us.”

Today, the challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. Each chapter is part of the nationwide network of teams that are uniquely positioned to educate and engage their local community to shine a spotlight on the rare disease cause.

“It has been a privilege to be a small part of such a big impact in many families lives,” Penn State Chapter President and quarterback Sean Clifford said. “Penn State is driven to help the Rare Disease Community because we know how important this cause is, and we see the significance in the bigger picture.”

Notre Dame Chapter announces Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community set for July 19th


The Notre Dame Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Friday, July 19th.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Notre Dame Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Notre Dame is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes by using college football as a platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

The Notre Dame Chapter Lift For Life is a private event this year.

“Uplifting Athletes is an incredible opportunity for us to use our platform as college athletes to raise awareness for a great cause,” said Notre Dame Chapter Vice President and tight end Brock Wright. “It is very special for our program to be able to work with an organization that can make an impact in the fight against rare diseases. The Lift for Life gives us a chance to contribute to this fight.”

The 2019 Notre Dame Chapter Lift For Life will be a competition featuring max leg press repetitions between the eight football student-athlete led fundraising teams.

Fans and supporters can pledge to any of the eight Fighting Irish teams for the total number of leg press repetitions that particular team knocks out. So choose your favorite Notre Dame player and support their team by visiting Notre Dame Chapter Lift For Life fundraising site and pledging now! You can also make a flat donation to the Notre Dame Lift For Life.

The proceeds from the Notre Dame Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

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

The Notre Dame Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2012 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led Notre Dame Chapter was started by former Fighting Irish linebacker Joe Schmidt and serves the Rare Disease Community in honor of rare disease patient Sam Grewe.

Diagnosed with the rare disease osteosarcoma in 2011 as a teenager, Grewe is a huge Fighting Irish fan and the Notre Dame football program formed a close relationship with Grewe as he battled his rare disease.

Please support the Notre Dame Chapter and help the Fighting Irish reach their impressive $15,000 team Lift For Life goal.

Notre Dame Chapter welcomes Rare Disease patients, siblings and caregivers to Uplifting Experience bowling event


An important part of the Notre Dame Chapter heritage is the annual bowling event the Fighting Irish started in 2014.

This past weekend the Notre Dame Chapter used its event at the Strikes & Spares Event Center in Mishawaka, Indiana to host an Uplifting Experience for rare disease patients, families and caregivers.

More than 100 people – the largest attendance in the six-year history of the ND Chapter bowling event – packed the lanes for two hours of fun and inspiration.

“This was way bigger than anything we’ve ever had. It has been awesome to see how this event has grown and the impact the patients and football players have on each other,” said Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long, who attended the event Sunday morning.

“More than 30 Notre Dame football players showed up and they did a phenomenal job. There were more than 70 patients, siblings and caregivers The bowling alley staff did a phenomenal job. This is a community business giving back by donating their facility to make this possible. We are so proud of what this Uplifting Experience has become.”

When the Notre Dame Chapter joined the Uplifting Athletes team six years ago the annual bowling event was primarily an awareness event for Uplifting Athletes and the Rare Disease Community. 

As more rare disease patients, families and caregivers started coming to the event, the impact of those relationships spawned a shift in the focus of this event from just awareness to all about making this a special day for rare disease patients, their families and caregivers.

“It was great to see how happy the kids were and how great the players were with the kids,” Long said. “A bowling event like this a perfect Uplifting Experience and benefits everybody involved.”

32 players from 2019 Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases team join the NFL ranks


Earlier this year, Uplifting Athletes partnered with 56 NFL prospects to give them their first opportunity to share their new platform as professional athletes to inspire others with hope and to support the Rare Disease Community.

When the stakes were the highest in their football lives, these NFL prospects made a choice to pledge their performance at either the NFL Combine or their individual NFL Pro Day workouts to raise awareness and funds in support of Uplifting Athletes’ mission.

Of the 56 NFL prospects who participated in the Uplifting Athletes 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign, we are excited to share that 32 were either drafted or signed free agent contracts and are taking that next step, continuing their football career in the NFL.

Quite a feat considering less than 1 percent of high school football players actually go on to sign a professional NFL contract.  For those who climb to the top of the football ladder and take that next  step from NFL prospect to being drafted or signed by an NFL team, they are in rare air.

“Congratulations to each and every one of these men for earning this rare opportunity,” said Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett, who played in the NFL. “To those that give, much is received. It is fitting that the men who took the time to help those affected by rare diseases at such a pivotal time in their athletic careers get the opportunity to join a rare fraternity of men to sign an NFL contract after college.

“We wish each and every one of you good health, great success and to always help those in need with the platform bestowed upon you.”

Of the 56 players that took part in the 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign this past March, 12 of them were drafted and 20 have signed undrafted free agent contracts.

That group includes a pair of first-round picks in defensive lineman Christian Wilkins from Clemson who was drafted No. 13 overall by the Miami Dolphins and former NC State center Garrett Bradbury who was the No. 18 overall selection by the Minnesota Vikings.

The other 10 draft picks from our 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases team include: Miles Boykin from Notre Dame, taken in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens, and Fighting Irish teammates Julian Love and Drue Tranquill who were taken in the fourth round by the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers, respectively.

Former Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson was taken off the board by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round. A trio of players, Ty Johnson from Maryland to the Detroit Lions, former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley to the Baltimore Ravens and one-time NC State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon to the Washington Redskins, were selected in the sixth round.

Rounding out the 12 draft picks, University of Illinois guard and former Illini Chapter President Nick Allegretti was taken by Kansas City, Nick Scott from Penn State went to the Los Angeles Rams and Syracuse defensive lineman Chris Slayton was picked by the New York Giants. All three were seventh-round selections.

Collectively our 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases team raised nearly $45,000 in support of Uplifting Athletes’ mission and our four programs – Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Congratulations to all the members of our Reps For Rare Diseases squad that earned an opportunity to compete inside the lines at the highest level.