Uplifting Athletes to host third annual Young Investigator Draft presented by CSL Behring on March 7 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia

Uplifting Athletes, a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization that inspires the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport, announced plans today for the third annual Young Investigator Draft, presented by CSL Behring, taking place on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL).

The football theme of the Young Investigator Draft is inspired by the NFL Draft. Instead of drafting emerging young football talent, this unique draft turns the spotlight on the next generation of promising young medical researchers who are “drafted” and awarded research grants by Uplifting Athletes in order to help them pursue new treatments and potential cures for many of the world’s rarest diseases. 

“The Young Investigator Draft serves as a powerful celebration of research within the field of rare diseases, providing a platform to distribute research funding to up-and-coming young researchers and honoring our ‘Rare Disease Champion Team’,” says Rob Long, Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes. “We’re proud to have already awarded $180,000 in grants over the past two years alone and look forward to continued success. With every new year, we discover brilliant young researchers who help us learn more about these underserved diseases.”

“CSL Behring is proud to continue sponsoring this innovative program that supports emerging science and rare disease research,” added Kevin Kovaleski, Vice President, Global Commercial Development, Transplant, CSL Behring.  “The Young Investigator Draft reinforces our promise to patients by empowering researchers to focus on the rare disease community.”

Uplifting Athletes and its annual Young Investigator Draft focus on rare diseases because they are often underserved and so diverse.  Rare diseases are so prevalent that 1 in 10 Americans are affected by rare diseases. That’s a higher percentage than cancer and AIDS combined. Additionally, they transcend gender, race, age, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, due to the large variety and complexity of rare diseases, there is very little support for rare disease research, especially compared to funding for more common diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Uplifting Athletes exists to close this significant funding gap. 

Uplifting Athletes emphasis for the 2020 Young Investigator Draft is on building greater audience participation for the draft event on Saturday, March 7, 2020, as well as inviting more medical research-related corporate sponsorship and involvement in the event. By doing so, Uplifting Athletes believes it can help transform the way society views, engages with and supports the research that will benefit many future generations. Please visit the Young Investigator Draft Facebook event page to participate in the draft.


Founded in 2007, Uplifting Athletes fulfills its mission to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport with a powerful network of over 20 college football student-athlete led chapters, Uplifting Ambassadors and Team UA participants.

Since its inception, Uplifting Athletes has raised more than $5 million to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders. To learn more, please visit upliftingathletes.org

About CSL Behring

CSL Behring is a global biotherapeutics leader driven by its promise to save lives. Focused on serving patients’ needs by using the latest technologies, we develop and deliver innovative therapies that are used to treat coagulation disorders, primary immune deficiencies, hereditary angioedema, respiratory disease, and neurological disorders. The company’s products are also used in cardiac surgery, burn treatment and to prevent hemolytic disease of the newborn.

CSL Behring operates one of the world’s largest plasma collection networks, CSL Plasma. The parent company, CSL Limited (ASX:CSL;USOTC:CSLLY), headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, employs more than 25,000 people, and delivers its life-saving therapies to people in more than 70 countries. For inspiring stories about the promise of biotechnology, visit Vita CSLBehring.com/vita and follow us on Twitter.com/CSLBehring

Uplifting Athletes Media Contact: 

Frank Keel 

Office: +1 484 410 4932 

Email: Keelcommunicationsllc@gmail.com

CSL Behring Media Contact

Jennifer Purdue

Office: +1 610 878 4802

Mobile: +1 610 306 9355

Email: jennifer.purdue@cslbehring.com 

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.

Beyond The Trophy: Get to know Clemson Chapter Vice President and long snapper Jack Maddox

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: Jack Maddox

College: Clemson University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-3, 225-pounds, redshirt sophomore, long snapper

High School: Acton-Boxborough Regional in Acton, Mass.

About Jack: A two-time Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Honor Roll selection, Jack has appeared in a dozen games on special teams the last two seasons for the Tigers after a redshirt year in 2017. He made his collegiate debut against NC State in 2018 and this season has appeared in 10 games for Clemson on special teams. This season against NC State he recorded his first fumble recovery on a muffed punt. Jack became a chapter leader at Clemson following the 2018 season. He took over the role of Vice President for the Clemson Chapter and assisted in landing NFL prospects to be part of Reps For Rare Diseases 2019 and helped oversee the Tigers’ Lift For Life in the summer. Jack attended the Leadership Development Conference in January of 2019 and is making sure the defending National Champions use their platform as college football student athletes to serve and inspire hope in the Rare Disease Community.

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

MADDOX: Winning the National Championship in 2018.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

MADDOX: The opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

MADDOX: How influential the platform of college football is to serve and bring attention to the Rare Disease Community.

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

MADDOX: Dream big and work hard. It is only unthinkable if you don’t think it.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

MADDOX: Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. One of the best tight ends of all time and does so much off the field.

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

MADDOX: Arnold Palmer. I would love to talk golf and get to know one of the most beloved men in sports.


What is your perfect pizza?

MADDOX: Pepperoni and mushroom

All time favorite movie?

MADDOX: Christmas Vacation

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

MADDOX: McDonald’s

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

MADDOX: Dallas Cowboys

What is the most used app on your phone?


Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Colgate Chapter President and running back Triston Fairchild

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: Triston Fairchild

College: Colgate University

Height, weight, class, position: 5-10, 205-pound, senior, running back

High School: Papillion Lavista South in Papillion, Neb.

About Triston: For three years Triston has been a reserve running back for the Raiders with limited carries. His biggest production for Colgate has been on special teams. His coach called him a player” who always gave his best effort and did everything to make us better.” After participating in the Colgate Lift For Life twice, Triston took on a leadership role for the second oldest chapter in the Uplifting Athletes network. He attended the 2019 Leadership Development Conference and armed with a commitment to support the Rare Disease Community helped guide the 2018 Patriot League Champion Raiders to a successful 2019 Lift For Life as the Chapter President.

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

FAIRCHILD: My most memorable experience was beating JMU in the 2018 FCS playoffs to advance to the quarterfinals. JMU was a strong team and we accomplished a lot for the program that year.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

FAIRCHILD: My immediate family has recently been affected by a rare disease, so I found that it was a great opportunity to use my platform as a college football player to help raise awareness and money for the cause.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

FAIRCHILD: Uplifting athletes has taught me that people care about the rare disease community and that when a program rallies together around a cause, change can be made for the betterment of those affected with a rare disease.

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

FAIRCHILD: I would tell them to trust the process, there are always kids who play early and then there are late-bloomers, and that’s alright. One thing you cannot do is give up your self-confidence as a player as you transition to an elite level of talent.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

FAIRCHILD: Christian McCaffrey because his running style is so balanced and he is a fluid runner. As a runningback, I admire the combination of speed, balance, and power that he brings to the table and because Marshawn Lynch retired.

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

FAIRCHILD: I would choose to have lunch with Mac Miller because he was a very influential artist and creative person, I feel like he would be a lot of fun and would be able to have good conversation.


What is your perfect pizza?

FAIRCHILD: Thin crust meatlovers

All time favorite movie?


What is your go-to fast food restaurant?


Favorite sports team (any sport)?

FAIRCHILD: New York Yankees

What is the most used app on your phone?

FAIRCHILD: Instagram

Meet the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team

Uplifting Athletes is pleased to announce the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team.

For 12 years, Uplifting Athletes has recognized a Rare Disease Champion. Starting in 2019, the focus of the Rare Disease Champion Award shifts from highlighting an individual leader in college football to a team concept that provides an opportunity to recognize leaders in college football that have made a positive and lasting impact on the Rare Disease Community. 

The five members of the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion team are: Kent State wide receiver Antwan Dixon, Davidson linebacker George Hatalowich, Syracuse offensive lineman Sam Heckel, Penn student assistant Anthony Lotti and Kentucky linebacker Josh Paschal.

Uplifting Athletes couldn’t be more proud to share these inspiring rare disease stories of leaders in college football.

“We feel strongly that our obligation to the Rare Disease Community is to share the powerful and compelling stories of people inside college football who have lived the rare disease journey, as patients and advocates,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “I believe this will be the start of a tradition recognizing those in college football who are inspiring, serving and supporting those who need it the most.”

The Rare Disease Champion Team powered by Sanofi Genzyme is an Uplifting Athletes awareness campaign that is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The Rare Disease Champion Team will be celebrated at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. on March 6, 2020 and at Uplifting Athletes’ Young Investigator Draft at Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia March 7, 2020.

Nominees for the award were solicited from any NCAA FBS, FCS, Division II or Division III institution or college football program nationwide.

Past Rare Disease Champion winners consist of seven FBS players including USC long snapper Jake Olson (2016), UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin (2018) and Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates (2015), one FCS player, a Division III quarterback, an FBS assistant coach and an administrator from AFCA. 

Former Austin Peay State University Offensive Coordinator and current University of Kansas Assistant Coach Joshua Eargle was honored as the winner of the Rare Disease Champion Award last year.

The Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team is a member of the National College Football Awards Association. The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935.

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.

Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Clemson Chapter President and punter Will Spiers

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: Will Spiers

College: Clemson University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-5, 225-pound, redshirt junior, punter

High School: Calhoun Academy in Cameron, S.C.

About Will: The former walk-on who played quarterback and punter in high school, Will is now in his third year as the Tigers’ No. 1 punter. An All-ACC Academic selection during his career who has averaged nearly 41 yards per kick, Will is having his best season ever in 2019. He’s averaging 42.3 yards per kick and his net average is above 40 yards per kick as well. He’s dropped nine punts inside the 20, has eight boots of more than 50 yards and has only two touchbacks. Will has served the Rare Disease Community for two years in a leadership position for the Clemson Chapter. He took over as the Chapter President in 2019 after attending the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference in 2018 and 2019.

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

SPIERS: Playing in the 2018 College Football National Championship game.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIERS: The opportunity to be in a leadership role where the ultimate objective was to help others.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIERS: A lot about the Rare Disease Community and how our platform as college football players can have a big impact on them.

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

SPIERS: Never give up and learn how to work hard in every aspect of life.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

SPIERS: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He’s the GOAT.

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

SPIERS: LeBron James to learn about him as a person and a player.


What is your perfect pizza?

SPIERS: Meat Lovers

All time favorite movie?

SPIERS: The Patriot

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

SPIERS: Chick-fil-A

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

SPIERS: Houston Astros

What is the most used app on your phone?

SPIERS: Instagram