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.

21 NFL Prospects join 2020 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign during NFL Combine


For the sixth consecutive year, Uplifting Athletes is empowering NFL prospects with the opportunity to use the NFL Combine as a platform to give back by raising funds and awareness in support of the Rare Disease Community.

Reps For Rare Diseases has been used as a way for athletes to give back at a pivotal point in their quest to play at the highest level as they put their skills on display for NFL teams.

Since its inception in 2015, more than 100 players have participated in this campaign through either the NFL Combine or NFL Pro Day workouts.

This year Uplifting Athletes currently has 21 players who chose to participate in Reps For Rare Diseases 2020 at the NFL Combine including: Grayland Arnold, JaMycal Hasty, Denzel Mims, Clay Johnston, James Lynch and Chris Miller from Baylor, Davion Taylor from Colorado, Jalen Elliott, Alohi Gilman, Tony Jones Jr., Cole Kmet, Chris Finke and Julian Okwara from Notre Dame, Juwan Johnson from Oregon, Rob Windsor from Penn State, Kevin Davidson from Princeton, Sterling Hofrichter and Kendall Coleman from Syracuse, Reggie Robinson and Trevis Gipson from Tulsa and Shaun Bradley from Temple.

“During Combine and Pro Day training, so much time and energy is focused by these young men on achieving their dreams of playing in the NFL,” former NFL player and Uplifting Athletes’ Chapter Success Manager Levi Norwood said. “It is amazing to see so many NFL hopefuls realize, especially during this tiring and grueling process, how impactful their platform can be. We are honored they chose to stand alongside Uplifting Athletes and the Rare Disease Community.” 

Fans and supporters can pledge towards the performance of any one of our NFL Combine participants this year and help Uplifting Athletes tackle rare diseases.

Visit the Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases 2020 team landing page, choose your favorite player and make your pledge today.

Horizon Therapeutics plc and Uplifting Athletes announced a new partnership for the 2020 Reps for Rare Diseases campaign. Horizon will match donations up to $35,000 through its #RAREis program, which is dedicated to providing individuals living with rare disease and families access to resources that connect, inform and educate as they navigate their daily lives.

“Thank you to all the athletes participating in Reps For Rare Diseases and good luck as you continue your football journey,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact and NFL veteran Brett Brackett said. “This group of athletes displays the empathy and character that helps them stand out amongst their peers. Any NFL team would be lucky to have one of these men representing their organization.”

The proceeds from the 2020 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

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.

Kent State posts first bowl game victory in program history and eight teams highlighted in Chapter Bowl Season Update


Kent State needed four tries to get the first bowl victory in school history. The Golden Flashes, making their first bowl appearance since 2012, upended Utah State in the Frisco Bowl to not only record the first bowl win for the program, but also record its first winning record in seven seasons.

Kent State won its final four games of the season to finish 7-6 overall. Sophomore kicker Matt Trickett drilled five field goals in the 10-point victory to give him 29 field goals this season. It was the third game Trickett posted four or more field goals in a game and his five made kicks is the most by a MAC player in a bowl game since 2013. Kent State Chapter President Antwan Dixon, a member of the 2019 Rare Disease Champion Team, had a career-best 99 receiving yards and recorded his first touchdown of the season.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had a record breaking outing to outgun Memphis in the Cotton Bowl and post their third 11-win season in the last four years. Led by redshirt sophomore running back Journey Brown, Penn State rolled up 396 rushing yards – the most ever in a bowl game for the Nittany Lions. Brown had a career-high 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 202 yards is the most by a Penn State running back in its storied bowl history – surpassing the 194 yards posted by Saquon Barkley in the 2017 Rose Bowl. Brown’s record performance earned him the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Bowl Season. Penn State’s seven total touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns both tied Cotton Bowl records. Sophomore All-American linebacker Micah Parsons tied a career-high with 14 tackles. He also had 3.0 tackles for a loss, 2.0 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles to earn Defensive MVP honors for the game.

Notre Dame: A convincing 24 point win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl gave the Fighting Irish back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time since 1988-1989. Sparked by a balanced offense and another stingy effort from a Notre Dame defense that recovered a pair of fumbles in the game to give them an FBS-best 19 on the season, the Irish grabbed control early and never let the Cyclones have a say in determining the outcome. Notre Dame Chapter Leader Drew White finished with five tackles in the game. The linebacker ended the season tied for first in tackles with 80.

Clemson: For the third time in four years the Tigers will play for the College Football Playoff National Championship. The defending champions won their record 29th straight game, rallying from a 16-point deficit in the first half to edge Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson will play No. 1 seed LSU for the title on Monday, January 13 in New Orleans. Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence accounted for 366 total yards and three touchdowns, including a career-high 107 rushing yards. The Clemson defense sealed the victory with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions – including a Nolan Turner pick in the end zone with less than a minute remaining. Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields had thrown only one interception all season before the National Semifinal.

Western Michigan: The Broncos saw Western Kentucky kick a pair of field goals in the final two minutes – including a game winner from 52 yards out with no time left on the clock – to claim the First Responder Bowl. Western Michigan senior cornerback Kareem Ali, a transfer from Temple, picked off a pass in the second quarter and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown. Ali’s pick-six, the first interception of his career, was the first interception ever returned for a touchdown by a Bronco in a bowl game. The 88 yards he covered is the most for an interception return by any Mid-American Conference (MAC) player ever in a bowl game – surpassing the previous mark by 32 yards. The three-point loss dropped WMU to 7-6 overall for the season.

Illinois: Making its first appearance in a bowl game since 2014, the Fighting Illini fell to California in the Redbox Bowl – the first bowl game appearance for Illinois since 2014. Turnovers fueled the Illini as they had a program-best 28 takeaways during the regular season. Despite outgaining Cal 450-395, the Illinois defense did not produce a single turnover for the first time all season. Junior punter Blake Hayes had five punts for 208 total yards with a long of 55 yards and dropped four of those five boots inside the 20-yard line. Hayes owns three of the top 11 single-season punting averages in Illinois history and no fewer than six single-season program punting records. Illini senior linebacker Dele Harding had six tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss in his final game. Harding finish his senior year with 153 tackles to finish sixth on the Illinois all-time list for a single season and the most by an Illini player in the last 25 years.

Florida State: The Seminoles had nearly 200 more yards of total offense than Arizona State in the Sun Bowl, but Florida State was undone by six turnovers that the Sun Devils converted into 14 points on their way to a seven-point victory. Seminoles redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tamorrion Terry had a career-best nine catches and 165 receiving yards including a 91-yard catch-and-run touchdown.That 91-yard touchdown catch was the longest passing play in Sun Bowl history (86 years). Terry’s six touchdown catches this season of 60 or more yards ties him with Oklahoma All-American Dede Westbrook in 2016 for the most in a season nationally since at least 2010.

Baylor: For the third time in seven years, the Bears went to a bowl game with 11 wins and chance to register 12 victories for the first time in program history. Undone in the first half of the Sugar Bowl by a dominant Georgia squad, Baylor fell behind 19-0 and despite a strong second half never fully recovered and ultimately fell to the Bulldogs by 12 points. Still, only two years removed from a 1-11 season, playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl with a chance to make program history was not on the Bears’ radar when the season kicked off.

Chapter Update: Clemson makes college football history with fifth ACC crown and eight teams earn bowl invitations


Defending National Champion Clemson became the first team in college football history to win five consecutive conference championships when it overpowered Virginia in the ACC Championship game.

The Tigers extended their nation-best winning streak to 28 games and have now won 19 ACC championships and 25 overall championships in Clemson program history.

Led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Tee Higgins, Clemson scored the first five times it had the ball on its way to an ACC Championship game record 62 points and 619 total yards.

Higgins finished with three touchdown receptions and 182 receiving yards, each setting an ACC Championship Game record. With those three TD catches the junior tied Clemson’s all-time receiving touchdowns record with 27 and earned the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Lawrence set an ACC Championship game record with four touchdown passes. He finished with 302 passing yards and for the eighth consecutive game threw at least three TD passes.

Tigers running back Travis Etienne chipped in with 114 yards and a touchdown to eclipse 1,500 yards on the ground this season. It’s the second year in a row he went over the 1,500-yard mark, becoming the first player in program history to accomplish the feat.

For the fifth consecutive year the undefeated Tigers will participate in the College Football Playoff. Clemson was awarded the No. 3 seed and will face second-seeded Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on December 28 in one CFP semifinal.

The Tigers’ fifth CFP playoff appearance ties Alabama for the most appearances in the brief history of the four-team playoff.

Learn more about Clemson Chapter President and punter Will Spiers in our Beyond The Trophy series

Baylor: Forced to use its second and third string quarterbacks, the Bears still took the Big 12 Championship game into overtime before falling to Oklahoma by a touchdown. Twice Baylor rallied from double-digit deficits to force extra time in its first appearance in the conference title game. After losing starting quarterback Charlie Brewer in the first half, the combination of redshirt freshman Gerry Bohanon and true freshman Jacob Zeno combined to throw for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns without an interception to keep Baylor in the hunt. The Bears had a crack to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, moving inside the OU 20 before stalling and settled instead for John Mayers 27-yard field goal as the final points in regulation. Junior defensive lineman James Lynch had 2.0 sacks in the championship game, setting the Baylor single-season mark for sacks in a season with 12.5.

The Bears’ only losses this season came at the hands of College Football Playoff-bound Oklahoma. Baylor finished No. 7 overall in the rankings and earned an invitation to a New Year’s Six Bowl invite to the 86th playing of the Sugar Bowl. The Bears, who were 1-11 two years ago, will play No. 5 Georgia in New Orleans. This is the reward for a senior class that played under three different head coaches and lost 16 of 18 games during one stretch.

Penn State: For the first time since 1975 the Nittany Lions will play in the Cotton Bowl to commemorate the 50th bowl game appearance in program history. Penn State finished No. 10 in the final rankings and earned an invitation to play American Athletic Conference (AAC) champion and 17th ranked Memphis (12-1) in Dallas on December 28. This will be the Nittany Lions’ third New Year’s Six bowl appearance in the last four years under head coach James Franklin and the sixth straight season Penn State has been bowl eligible.

Illinois: Ending a five-year drought of making an appearance in a bowl game, the Fighting Illini earned the 19th bowl invitation in program history with a trip to the Bay Area. Illinois will play Cal from the Pac-12 in the Redbox Bowl on December 30. Although Illinois and Cal have played 10 previous times, this will be the first meeting in a bowl game.

Notre Dame: Coming off its third consecutive 10-win season, the Fighting Irish will play their 148th different opponent in program history when they face Iowa State from the Big 12 Conference in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando on December 28. This is the ninth time in 10 years head coach Brian Kelly has taken Notre Dame to a bowl game and will mark appearance No. 36 in the postseason for the Fighting Irish.

Kent State: After winning their final three games just to reach six wins, the Golden Flashes are headed to a bowl game for only the fourth time in program history and the first since 2013. Kent State will play Utah State from the Mountain West Conference in the Frisco Bowl on December 20 in Frisco, Texas. With wins over Buffalo, Ball State and Kent State, the Golden Flashes are the only FBS team to win their final three games of the season to become bowl eligible.

Western Michigan: For the third time in the last four years the Broncos are bowl bound. Western Michigan earned an invitation to the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on December 30 and will face 8-4 Western Kentucky from Conference USA. This is the 10th overall bowl appearance for Western Michigan since it earned its first bowl invitation in 1961.

Florida State: The Seminoles will appear in the postseason for an NCAA-best 38th time in the last 40 seasons after receiving an invitation to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on December 31. Florida State will play Arizona State from the Pac-12 for the fifth time in program history. The last time FSU played in the Sun Bowl was 1966 and the last time the Seminoles and Sun Devils squared off was 1984.

Chapter Update: Penn State matches program standard with another 10-win season and seven teams post Week 14 victories


Penn State won for the 10th consecutive time at Beaver Stadium and, in the process of upending Rutgers on Senior Day, the Nittany Lions tied a double-digit victory standard for the program.

For the third time in four years Penn State has won at least 10 games. It marks the first time the Nittany Lions have accomplished three double-digit win seasons in a four-year span since 1993-1996.

Penn State has been stellar at home during this historic run – capping a third unbeaten slate at Beaver Stadium in the last four years. The last time that happened was 1972-1975.

Backup quarterback Will Levis made his first start and rushed for 108 yards. Running back Journey Brown chipped in with 103 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. The last time Penn State had a pair of 100-yard rushers was 2015 and the last time that combination was a QB and RB was 2005.

The Nittany Lions finished solo second in the Big Ten East behind undefeated Ohio State and are in line for a New Year’s Six bowl bid.

Baylor: Two years ago the Bears were a one-win team in head coach Matt Rhule’s first season in Waco. Their only victory in 2017 was on the road at Kansas. Two years later Baylor returned to Memorial Stadium in Lawrence and thumped the Jayhawks to complete a 1-11 to 11-1 turnaround and punched their ticket to the Big 12 Championship game Saturday. Baylor is the first Power 5 program to go from 1-11 to 11-1 in two years. In one of its most dominant conference victories in program history, the Bears rang up 264 yards on the ground, scored on five of their first six possessions and the defense produced six turnovers.

Clemson: The Tigers won their 27th game in a row, nailed down the eighth undefeated regular season in program history and third under head coach Dabo Swinney, by knocking off Palmetto State rival South Carolina. Junior running back Travis Etienne broke the ACC record for career rushing touchdowns with a three-yard blast in the fourth quarter for his 53rd career touchdown on the ground. His historic touchdown earned Etienne the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed 18 consecutive passes against the Gamecocks to set a school record for consecutive completions, surpassing the previous mark of 15. The 18 straight completions also tied the ACC record for consecutive completions.

Learn more about Florida State Chapter President and linebacker DeCalon Brooks in our Beyond The Trophy series

Northwestern: The Wildcats used a powerful running game and a stingy defense to subdue Illinois and claim the Land of Lincoln Trophy for a program-record fifth time in a row. Northwestern posted 378 yards on the ground and eclipsed the 350-plus yard mark rushing for the first time since 2012. Senior defensive lineman Trent Goens had a career day in his final game with three tackles for a loss (TFL), a quarterback hurry (QBH) and a forced fumble. Only one Wildcat has replicated that stat line since 2000 – Malcolm Arrington in 2008. Goens also finished with six tackles, five of them solo stops, and a pass break-up to power a defense that limited the Fighting Illini to 160 total yards.

Notre Dame: Trailing by 10 points in the first half, the Fighting Irish ripped off 24 unanswered points to reach the 10-win plateau for the third consecutive season and the fourth time in the last five years. Senior quarterback Ian Book became the first Fighting Irish in program history with 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 touchdown passes in a season. He also became the first Notre Dame quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in a game five times in the victory over Stanford. 

Syracuse: Sophomore defensive back Trill Williams ripped the ball from Wake Forest’s Kendall Hinton at the six and raced 94 yards to the end zone to secure a six-point overtime victory for the Orange at home. Syracuse scored first in OT on a 40-yard field goal. The Demon Deacons were on the move in extra time before Williams stepped in. Each team kicked a 40-plus yard field in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.

Kent State: For the first time since 2012, the Golden Flashes are headed to a bowl game after posting their third consecutive win to reach 6-6 overall by taking out Eastern Michigan on Black Friday. This is only the fourth season Kent State in bowl eligible in the last 30 years. Jamal Parker put the Golden Flashes in the driver’s seat by returning the second-half kickoff 96 yards to give Kent State a three-score lead on the road. EMU pushed back and made it a one-score game in the fourth quarter before the Golden Flashes defense picked off a pass late to earn a bowl invitation for 2019. Junior quarterback Dustin Crum completed 68.3 percent of his passes this year and finished the regular season with an NCAA QB Rating of 155.97. Both those numbers are the best in Golden Flashes program history.

Illinois: The Illini held their 118th annual football banquet Sunday and Illinois Chapter President and tight end Bobby Walker was recognized for his work with Uplifting Athletes in receiving the Service Above Self Award. Despite the loss at home to Northwestern on Senior Day, the Fighting Illini finished 6-6 this year and are bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. Junior kicker James McCourtnailed a 50-yard field in the third quarter against the Wildcats to give him four field goals this season of 50 or more yards. Those four long-range kicks ties the Fighting Illini program record for number of 50-yard or longer field goals in a season.

Chapter Update: Northwestern freshman has breakout performance and 12 teams post Week 12 victories


Behind a breakout performance from true freshman running back Evan Hull, Northwestern won its second game of the season by rolling up 45 points against UMass.

Hull, making his first start of the season, rushed for 220 yards and tied the single-game program record with four touchdowns on the ground. He became the first Wildcat running back to rush for four touchdowns and more than 200 yards in a game since 2005. Hull scored on touchdown runs of 46, 38, 36 and 6 yards.

Northwestern also used a strong effort from its special teams to add points to the scoreboard. Joe Gaziano blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt and Chris Bergin grabbed the loose ball and scooted 85-yards for a scoop-and-score. The Wildcats also recovered a squib kick and turned it into a field goal.

Penn State: Junior quarterback Sean Clifford, the Penn State Chapter President, went over 3,000 total yards for the season and was responsible for three touchdowns as the Nittany Lions bounced back from their first loss of the season. Clifford, who posted 234 total yards of offense, two rushing scores and a passing touchdown against the Hoosiers, finished off a statement drive for Penn State to seal the victory. His 1-yard plunge on fourth down late in the fourth quarter gave the Nittany Lions a 10-point lead and capped an 18-play, 75-yard march that consumed 9:01 of the clock. 

Saint Francis: Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Brown connected with classmate E.J. Jenkins for three touchdowns to help the Red Flash post their most convincing win of the season. Joel Denley added 157 all-purpose yards and a career-high three rushing touchdowns as part of the 42-point outburst. Saint Francis Chapter President Nick Rinella, one of six seniors honored prior to the game, posted eight tackles and returned the opening kickoff 48 yards. 

In his first year as the starter, Brown’s three touchdown passes against Wagner gives him 23 on the season to take over as the program’s all-time leader in TD passes for a season and earned him the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Penn: The Quakers went on the road to Harvard and set a program milestone in close-to-the-vest Ivy League victories. For the first time in the Ancient Eight era of college football, Penn has won three consecutive games at Harvard Stadium. It was also the third straight win overall for the Quakers, all decided by four points or fewer. Six of Penn’s nine games this season have been decided by five or fewer points. The Quakers are 4-2 in those tight-squeeze affairs. Nick Robinson threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Rory Starkey midway through the fourth quarter to give the Quakers the lead for good. And the Penn defense locked it down with a late fourth-quarter stop on fourth down at its own 30-yard-line.

Clemson: Behind a career-high four touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence and 121 yards from RB Travis Etienne, the Tigers won their sixth consecutive game by 30 or more points – the longest streak in ACC history. Etienne’s 100-plus yard game was his sixth in a row and established a school record for consecutive 100-plus yard games. Wake Forest walked into Memorial Stadium bringing seven wins to the table behind a solid offense. The Tigers’ defense held the Demon Deacons to 105 total yards and five first downs.

Davidson: The Wildcats finished off the road portion of their schedule with a stellar 4-1 mark thanks to 28 unanswered second-half points to pull away from Stetson. Davidson moved to 5-2 in the Pioneer Football League, posting the most league wins by the program since 2006. Junior RB Wesley Dugger continued his assault on the record books with two more touchdowns to become the PFL’s all-time leading scorer and the Davidson single-season leader in rushing touchdowns with 20. Davidson Chapter President and team captain, linebacker George Hatalowich, led a defense that limited Stetson to less than 100 yards the final 30 minutes with a team-high 11 tackles.

Notre Dame: Senior wide receiver Chase Claypool had four touchdown receptions tying him for the most in a single game in Irish history with Maurice Stovall who caught four against BYU in 2005. Three of those touchdown catches came in the first half in the commanding win over Navy, marking the first time an Irish player has posted three touchdown receptions in a single half since at least 1950. Claypool finished with seven catches for 117 yards. Notre Dame Chapter Vice President and linebacker Drew White had a team-high 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. White now leads the Fighting Irish defense in tackles this season.

Learn more about Notre Dame Chapter Vice President and linebacker Drew White in our Beyond The Trophy series

Colgate: Sparked by a defense that found its stride late in the season, the Raiders closed out their 2019 season with three straight victories after blanking Lafayette on the road. It was the third straight season Colgate has blanked Lafayette. After starting 0-7, the Raiders won four of their last five and finished 3-3 in the Patriot League behind a defense that allowed only 27 total points the final 12 quarters of the season.

Syracuse: Fueled by its defense, Syracuse ended its four-game slide and kept its hopes for a bowl bid alive by posting its first win ever against Duke in four tries. Leading 14-6 at halftime, the Orange defense forced three turnovers in the third quarter that the offense turned into 21 points to break the game open. Andre Cisco started the turnover barrage with the first pick-six of his career covering 48 yards that quickly made it 21-6. The 43-point margin of victory was the largest ever for Syracuse in an ACC game.

Western Michigan: In a wild back-and-forth affair that saw the Broncos and Ohio University combine for 10 first-half points but then 31 total points in the fourth quarter, LeVante Bellamy’s four-yard touchdown run in overtime sealed the seventh victory of the season for WMU. After the Broncos’ defense surrendered a late touchdown in regulation that forced OT, they came up with a stand to start the extra session to force a field goal.

Kent State: Trailing Buffalo at home by 21 points with half of the fourth quarter remaining, the Golden Flashes exploded for 24 unanswered points down the stretch to keep their quest for a bowl big alive. Sophomore kicker Matthew Trickett nailed a 44-yard field goal as time expired to cap the biggest fourth-quarter comeback this season in FBS. The field goal to win it by Trickett was his 20th of the season and broke the single-season Kent State record established in 2012 by Freddy Cortez. 

Florida State: For the 38th time in the last 40 years the Seminoles will appear in a bowl game after roughing up FCS Alabama State for win No. 6 this season. In his second stint as interim head coach, Odell Haggins is now 4-0 with FSU averaging nearly 43 points a game in those contests. Haggins is 2-0 this season since taking over and the 49 points scored this week is a season high.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Penn State Chapter Vice President and long snapper Chris Stoll


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: Chris Stoll

College: Penn State University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-2, 245-pound, sophomore, long snapper

High School: St. Francis DeSales, Westerville, Ohio

About Chris: Took over the full-time long snapper duties this season, becoming one of 21 Nittany Lions to make their collegiate debut in 2019. He has appeared in all eight games this season. Chris had a passion for the cause when he arrived at Penn State. His grandfather suffers from a rare disease, so the sophomore understands the impact a rare disease can have on a family. Afforded the platform of being a starter, Chris was aware of the tradition of the Penn State Chapter and became part of the leadership group. He attended the Leadership Development Conference in 2019 and currently serves at the PSU Chapter vice President.

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

STOLL: Making a tackle on punt coverage in the 2019 “Whiteout” game against Michigan.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

STOLL: My grandpa suffers from a rare disease, so if I can make any sort of impact on the future of my grandpa’s health then I will, because I know how much it can affect a person and their loved ones.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

STOLL: I’ve learned that Uplifting Athletes is doing a lot of work in order to get more research started and awareness raised, which I think will be even more impactful in the future.

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

STOLL: For my position as a specialist, you really need to have good academics and need to go to college camps and perform well to get noticed. You always have to be at your best, but being in shape and showing your athleticism is very important.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

STOLL: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees because of his consistency in his preparation and the longevity of his career. Also the importance of his faith and family, which is what I hope for later in life.

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

STOLL: Jesus Christ because I would want to ask him important life questions.

CHRIS ON THE HOT SEAT

What is your perfect pizza?

STOLL: New York style pizza

All time favorite movie?

STOLL: Dark Knight

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

STOLL: Skyline Chili

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

STOLL: Columbus Blue Jackets

What is the most used app on your phone?

STOLL: Instagram