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: Last-second field goal propels Penn to come-from-behind victory and nine teams notch Week 10 wins


On a milestone day, where Penn played the 1,400th game in program history, the Quakers first Ivy League victory of the season came in dramatic fashion at Franklin Field.

Sophomore kicker Daniel Karrash made his first collegiate field goal attempt a memorable one, as the Philadelphia native drilled a 22-yard kick with two seconds remaining to vault the Quakers past Brown.

Junior linebacker Brian O’Neill gave Penn a 35-19 lead early in the third quarter with a 21-yard scoop and score on a fumble. After that, the Quakers’ offense sputtered and Brown scored 17 unanswered points to surge in front 36-35 with 4:10 to play.

Penn went on a 16-play, 74-yard victory march, including a fourth-and-7 conversion, to set up Karrash’s dramatic winning kick.

Notre Dame: Staring down the barrel of an upset by Virginia Tech at Notre Dame Stadium, the Fighting Irish’s struggling offense climbed off the deck in the dying minutes to rally for a one-point victory over the Hokies. Notre Dame, held scoreless in the second half up to this point, manufactured an 18-play, 87-yard drive in the final 3:22 to win it. Quarterback Ian Book capped the march with a seven-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds to play. Notre Dame Chapter President and linebacker Drew White led the Irish defense with eight tackles.

Marist: Running back Hunter Cobb had another big outing, as the Red Foxes won for the second consecutive week. The redshirt freshman accounted for 148 of Marist’s 166 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns. In leading the Red Foxes to back-to-back victories, Cobb has rushed for 324 yards and scored five times.

Clemson: Running back Travis Etienne rushed for a career 212 yards and the Tigers extended their nation best win streak to 24 games. Clemson scored 59 points in the victory to mark the fourth game in a row the Tigers have scored 45 or more points – the first time in program history that has happened. They also tied the school record for consecutive home victories with 21. Etienne’s 212 yards came on the fewest carries in school history (9), he reached 1,000 yards in the fewest number of games (9) to tie the school record and the senior also broke the school record for career rushing touchdowns with an 86-yard gallop to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Baylor: Backstopped by a defense that surrendered the fewest rushing yards allowed by a Bears team in more than four years, Baylor edged West Virginia at home to stay undefeated. The 8-0 Bears moved up in the polls to No. 11. Baylor’s defense gave up only 14 rushing yards and fewer than 225 total yards to win its first game when scoring fewer than 20 points since 2006. 

Davidson: The Wildcats never trailed, but it was a grind for the home squad against a pesky one-win Valparaiso outfit. Wesley Dugger’s 1-yard touchdown run with two minutes to play snapped a 21-all deadlock. And Davidson Chapter co-founder and President George Hatalowich iced the six-point victory with an interception inside the final minute. The victory guarantees Davidson back-to-back seasons with at least six victories for the first time since 2006 and 2007. Hatalowich finished with a team-high nine tackles.

Princeton: The Tigers ran their winning streak to 17 straight, cracking the Top Five for winning streaks during the program’s 150-year history. Princeton’s defense limited Cornell to seven points, forced three turnovers and surrendered only one third-down conversion in 11 attempts.

Learn more about Penn State Chapter Vice President and long snapper Chris Stoll in our Beyond The Trophy series

Illinois: For the first time since 2011 when they started 6-0, the Fighting Illini are on a three-game winning streak. Senior linebacker Dele Harding became the second player in the nation in the last 20 years to have 12-plus tackles, 2.0-plus tackles for a loss, 1-plus interception and 1-plus touchdown in a single game in the victory over Rutgers. Tied 10-10 at intermission, Illinois scored all 28 points in the second half to pull away.

Colgate: Two big punt returns by Abu Daramy-Swaray covering 78 total yards and the Raiders’ defense forced a pair of key second-half fumbles that led to points for victory No. 16 in 17 games against Georgetown.

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.

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!

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.”

Seven chapters make for a busy and successful Spring Lift For Life schedule


This was a busy spring with seven chapters holding Lift For Life events in support of Uplifting Athletes and its mission to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

Penn, Stony Brook, Saint Francis, Davidson, Lehigh, Marist and Princeton, all FCS college football programs, recently held their annual Lift For Life events.

2019 Penn Chapter Lift For Life

For the Lehigh and Marist Chapters, 2019 was their inaugural Lift For Life as part of the Uplifting Athletes team.

“Starting an Uplifting Athletes chapter at Marist is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up on. I’ve always wanted to get involved in the community and help those who need it and with Uplifting Athletes I believe that’s possible,” said Red Foxes safety and Marist Chapter founder Paul Olivett. “On behalf of Marist and the football team, we look forward to being a part of the many college teams tackling rare diseases.”

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

2019 Lehigh Chapter Lift For Life

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 Davidson Chapter reached a milestone this year when it became only the fourth Uplifting Athletes Chapter to raise more than $10,000 in each of its first two Lift For Life events joining Penn State, Boston College and Notre Dame in rare fundraising air.

“It’s been incredible to see the development and growth of our Uplifting Athletes Chapter at Davidson College,” Davidson Chapter leaders and co-founders George Hatalowich and Kevin Stipe said. “Our success is truly a testament to the players, coaches, and athletic department that bought into the organization and our chapter’s goals.

“We are extremely proud to be a part of Davidson’s Chapter and we can’t thank the Uplifting Athletes organization enough for their continuous support and guidance throughout this entire process.”

2019 Davidson Chapter Lift For Life

The seven events to kick off the 2019 Lift For Life schedule this spring raised more than $50,000 to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

“It is an honor to be able to use our platform to help raise awareness and support the Rare Disease Community through Uplifting Athletes,” Saint Francis Chapter President Nick Rinella said. “We are all proud to be part of a team that is working so hard to tackle rare diseases.”

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.

Lift For Life will continue throughout the summer with the FBS schools kicking their offseason training into high gear along with a couple FCS schools that opted for summer events instead of the spring.

“Uplifting Athletes has given me a humbling and incredible opportunity to help give back to the Rare Disease Community,” Princeton Chapter President and offensive lineman Luke Aschenbrand said. “Meeting rare disease patients who appreciate the effort we put in and are thankful for the outreach of their message makes what we do worth it.

2019 Princeton Chapter Lift For Life

Uplifting Athletes’ 10th Leadership Development Conference in Atlanta covered a lot of ground


The essential core of the Uplifting Leaders program is the college football student-athletes that steer our chapters at universities across the country.

This past weekend more than 40 individual leaders from 20 college football programs traveled to Atlanta for the 10th annual Leadership Development Conference.

The three-day conference was hosted by Uplifting Athletes, and run by Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett, a former Penn State Chapter President who attended the inaugural conference in 2010.

“Uplifting Athletes is grateful to be engaged with such enthusiastic student-athletes motivated to leverage their platform for good,” Brackett said. “I am excited to see how this group of student-athletes takes the knowledge gained from the conference and uses the power of sport to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope.”

Following a meet-and-greet team dinner Friday night, the conference kicked off Saturday morning with a full day of programming that was driven by Uplifting Athletes four program pillars – Uplifting Leaders, Uplifting Experiences, Rare Disease Awareness and Rare Disease Research.

Morning sessions covering the four programs were followed by a panel of former college football student-athletes sharing their stories and advice about making the transition from student-athlete to the professional world.

The lively and open discussion was spearheaded by panelists Pat Boyle, Drew Butler, Stephon Morris and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong.

“The conference was a great experience for me to learn more how to utilize my platform to impact the Rare Disease Community,” Penn State Chapter leader Sean Clifford said. “I am glad I had the opportunity to represent Penn State Football and grow as a leader.”

To kick off the afternoon, Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long shared his story about being a rare disease patient and how that shaped him to become a leader, advocate and difference maker for the Rare Disease Community.

Long’s hour-long presentation set the table for a tour of the College Football Hall of Fame and an Uplifting Experience where nearly 20 rare disease patients, caregivers and family members teamed up with the student-athletes.

“For me Leadership Development Conference 2019 was all about the people. You are surrounded with other college football players from all around the country and get to learn about their own connections with rare diseases and how much it affects us all,” Northwestern Chapter leader Joe Spivak said. “And then to be paired with a family going through the fight at the College Football Hall of Fame puts everything in that much more perspective.

“Those interactions, along with all the work with everyone from the Uplifting Athletes staff, showed me the true difference we can make in this community through the power of the sport we are all so blessed to be a part of.”

Gabe Low, a 17-year-old Hawaii native who was born with a rare genetic disorder, took center stage on Sunday to share his story about why he did the 3,500-mile Ride For Rare Diseases and talked about the impact of awareness created by using his platform.

The conference also featured sessions on Lift For Life and Touchdown Pledge Drive and next steps moving forward as these leaders prepare for 2019.

“If their attentiveness and commitment at the conference is any sign of what’s to come from this group of leaders … I believe 2019 could be something special,” Brackett said. “Their level of engagement leads me to believe we will see a high level of awareness and fundraising for the Rare Disease Community through Uplifting Athletes chapters across the country.”

Among the 20 schools that were represented in Atlanta, two of those are prospective Uplifting Athletes Chapters. Kent State and New Mexico had student-athletes attending for the first time.

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

A special thank you to all our supporters who made this conference possible. With your help, these young men are making a difference in the Rare Disease Community.

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


ldc 19 graphic

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

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

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

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

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

This year 40 current football players from 20 universities across the country will travel to Atlanta on Friday, January 25 to kick off a busy weekend of engaging work sessions, networking and relationship building.

Among the 20 schools that will be represented in Atlanta, four of those are prospective Uplifting Athletes Chapters. Kent State and New Mexico have student-athletes attending for the first time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A successful 2018 Year In Review


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

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

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

MALIK YEAR END GRAPHIC

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

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

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

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

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

YID MAILCHIMP 1

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

-We crowned Coach Joshua Eargle from Austin Peay State University as the 11th winner of the Rare Disease Champion Award – given to a leader in college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the Rare Disease Community. We also enjoyed seeing our 10th winner of the award, Shaquem Griffin from UCF, selected in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.

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

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

#WeTackleRare

Scott, Rob, Brett, John, Karen and Andy