Uplifting Athletes transitions to new leadership team led by Executive Director Rob Long


Brett Brackett moves into General Manager role to complete leadership team

New Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long

Uplifting Athletes is excited to officially announce the promotions of Rob Long to Executive Director and Brett Brackett to General Manager.

The duo will comprise a new executive team formed in the final quarter of 2018. Uplifting Athletes former Executive Director Scott Shirley, who founded the organization in 2007, will continue to serve the Rare Disease Community through his position as a board member.

“Uplifting Athletes has been a wonderful journey for me and my family, and we’re excited about this new chapter,” Shirley said. “I was fortunate enough to have my team, the Penn State community, and ultimately, the nation, rally around a cause that I will always be deeply passionate about.”

The transition of leadership began when Long joined Uplifting Athletes in September 2016. Since that time, he has held multiple positions including Chapter Manager and Director of Rare Disease Engagement. Since he moved into his Director role, Long has significantly expanded the footprint of the organization within the Rare Disease Community by developing strong partnerships that have spawned growth on several fronts.

The former Syracuse All-American punter, who served as the inspiration for the Orange football program teaming up with Uplifting Athletes during his battle with a rare form of brain cancer, will continue to build what he started as the Director of Rare Disease Engagement while assuming the Executive Director title.

“Having the opportunity to step into this role and use my voice and experiences to help support the Rare Disease Community is a dream come true,” Long said. “Scott has created a strong foundation we will continue to develop upon. We have assembled a dynamic team at Uplifting Athletes and I believe great things are in store as we move forward as an organization.”

In addition to Long taking on an expanded role, Brackett has been elevated into the General Manager role for of the organization while also seeing to his duties as Director of Sports Impact. Brackett came to Uplifting Athletes in April 2017 after retiring from the NFL and has always been a strong advocate for the Rare Disease Community. He served as the Penn State Chapter President while playing wide receiver for the Nittany Lions and always had a passion for supporting the cause professionally.

“I’ve had the pleasure of walking alongside these two great men for many years,” Shirley added. “As an organization, we wanted to secure the future by recognizing their efforts and putting them in a position to amplify their impact on the communities we serve.”

A nonprofit organization founded in 2007, Uplifting Athletes inspires the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport. A rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans and typically lacks financial incentive to make and market new treatments. With a network of university chapters run by current college football student-athletes, Uplifting Athletes has established 28 chapters with Division I football programs across the country.

Since it was founded, Uplifting Athletes has raised more than $4.5 million in support of the Rare Disease Community, and a third of that, $1.5 million, has been given to fund rare disease research. The Young Investigator Draft has become our priority to funding rare disease research in the future.

The mission of Uplifting Athletes is accomplished through four charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders. For more information about Uplifting Athletes, visit www.upliftingathletes.org

Uplifting Athletes team (left to right): Rob Long, Andy Shay, Scott Shirley, John Trzeciak and Brett Brackett.

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 44 current football players from 22 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 22 schools that will be represented in Atlanta, four of those are prospective Uplifting Athletes Chapters. Kent State, New Mexico, Mississippi State and Duquesne 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.

Global biotechnology leader CSL Behring returns as title sponsor for 2019 Young Investigator Draft


yid19 mailchimp graphicUplifting Athletes is pleased to announce global biotechnology leader CSL Behring will return as the title sponsor in 2019 for the second annual Young Investigator Draft on March 9th at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

The Young Investigator Draft, tying the theme of the NFL Draft and Rare Disease Research together, is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the next generation of rare disease researchers.

CSL Behring is the fifth largest biotechnology company in the world. Their scientists use the latest technologies to develop and deliver innovative therapies that are used to treat rare and serious conditions, including immunodeficiency and autoimmune diseases, hereditary and acquired bleeding disorders, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, hereditary angioedema and Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.’

“After the phenomenal success of last year’s inaugural Young Investigator Draft, we are proud to once again have CSL Behring’s strong support,“ Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “CSL Behring’s focus on rare diseases is a perfect fit for this special opportunity to bring the Rare Disease Community together to celebrate the research being conducted by these brilliant young minds.”

Watch 2018 Young Investigator Draft Video!

At the event, individual grants will be given to five Young Investigators who pursue rare disease research in these different areas: rare cancers, rare autoimmune and immunological disorders, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders and rare muscular and neurological disorders.

“Uplifting Athletes has added to college football’s rich history of unique traditions by applying the passion of sport to the rare disease community and creating the Young Investigator Draft,” said Jens Oltrogge, Head of Global Commercial Development, Hematology for CSL Behring. “By returning as the presenting sponsor for this unique and innovative event, we are continuing to deliver on our promise to patients and science by supporting the vitally-important work of these emerging researchers.”

The Young Investigator Draft grants are intended to inspire collaborative and translational research that will benefit the entire Rare Disease Community. The Young Investigator Draft stage will provide a platform for these young scientists to educate and inspire the audience by sharing their research along with its impact on the Rare Disease Community.

Check out 2018 Young Investigator Draft Photo Gallery!

Tickets are available through the Young Investigator Draft registration page. The event will include heavy hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine prior to the program for the evening.

The challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. At Uplifting Athletes we take pride in providing opportunity for college football student-athletes and NFL players to use the platform they are afforded to shine a spotlight on rare diseases and support the cause.

Founded in 2007, Uplifting Athletes has college football student-athlete led chapters nationwide in FBS and FCS programs from seven conferences across the country.

Since its inception, Uplifting Athletes has raised more than $4.5 million in support of the Rare Disease Community with a third of that, $1.5 million, given to fund rare disease research.

YID MAILCHIMP 1

Clemson winning second National Championship highlights Uplifting Athletes Chapters bowl season


chapter graphic season end 18For the second time in three years the Clemson Tigers won the college football National Championship by beating Alabama.

The Tigers finished the season 15-0 and became the first modern-era team to post a 15-win season.

Clemson used a monster game from true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, three touchdowns from running back Travis Etienne and a suffocating defense that held the Crimson Tide without a point the final 44:48 to record a dominating 28-point victory.

Lawrence threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns, Etienne had a pair of rushing touchdowns and added a third on a shuffle pass and the Tigers defense had a pick-6 and limited Alabama to a single touchdown on four red zone chances.

Clemson finished with nearly 500 yards of total offense, was 10-of-15 on third down, forced the only two turnovers in the game and had only one penalty.

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish made their first appearance in the College Football Playoff and fell to eventual National Champion Clemson 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl. It was the only loss this season for Notre Dame.

Baylor: One year after head coach Matt Ruhle and the Bears finished 1-11 in his first season at Baylor, the young squad flipped the script and finished 7-6 after posting a victory over Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl. Quarterback Charlie Brewer rolled up nearly 500 yards of total offense (384 passing, 109 rushing) to lead Baylor to a 45-38 victory.

Syracuse: The Orange used a 17-point blitz early in the fourth quarter to post victory No. 10 this season to become the first Syracuse team to post double-digit victories since 2001. Quarterback Eric Dungey closed out his record setting career by throwing for 303 yards and transfers Abdul Adams and Trishton Johnson combined for three touchdowns in their Orange debut to power the 34-18 victory over No. 15 West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl. Syracuse trailed 18-17 heading into the fourth quarter then ripped off 17 unanswered points in the opening 5:01 of the fourth quarter to seize control.

Northwestern: Sparked by a defense that forced three turnovers in a 9-minute span of the third quarter that the Wildcats turned into 21 points, Northwestern rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to overrun Utah 31-20 in the Holiday Bowl. Northwestern scored 28 of its 31 points in the third quarter and the Big Ten West champions finished 9-5 overall. Quarterback Clayton Thorson became the all-time leading passer in school history by throwing for 241 yards to give him 10,731 for his career. He also made his 53rd consecutive start – the most in Big Ten history for a quarterback.

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

 

 

Austin Peay State University Offensive Coordinator Joshua Eargle is the 11th winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award


RDC 1819 WINNER GRAPHICAustin Peay State University Offensive Coordinator Joshua Eargle is the 11th winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion award.

In a public on-line vote that started last month, Coach Eargle outlasted a field of finalists that included: University of Illinois offensive lineman Nick Allegretti; Stanford University linebacker Ryan Beecher; Kent State University wide receiver Antwan Dixon and Syracuse University offensive lineman Sam Heckel

“We are proud to honor Coach Joshua Eargle as the 11th Rare Disease Champion. The Eargle family’s story while unique, is shared with many other rare disease families across the country,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “The willingness of coach and his family to use their platform to inspire other rare families will undoubtedly have a profound impact and bring awareness to the rare disease cause.”

The Rare Disease Champion Award is presented annually by Uplifting Athletes to a leader in the world of college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.

Coach Eargle will be honored as part of the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 8th in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Tropicana Casino & Resort and during the Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft/Rare Disease Champion Celebration on March 9th at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

His daughter, Landrey, is the first known person in the United States to be diagnosed with the condition of a rare mutation of the CSNK2B gene. She battles myoclonic epilepsy, intellectual disability, a congenital heart defect, and immunodeficiency. She spent the first 73 days of her life critically ill on life support, enduring a major open heart surgery, surviving four codes.

Until the age of four, Landrey was critically or acutely ill 40 percent of her life. She’s battled through 15 hospitalizations, and there is no cure for this condition.

Coach Eargle is tenacious, but not because he would ever have wanted the battle it took to reveal the character developed through this. His daughter is at war every single day. Eargle’s strength and unrelenting fight is a calming presence to his daughter, and his calm under extreme pressure allows their family to have a laser focus on their mission rooted in inspiring others through faith, hope and joy.

Dramatic last-second FCS playoff victory by Colgate highlights Week 14 Chapter Update


Colgate Weekly NewsletterColgate hosted its first playoff game in 15 years, and the wait was well worth it.

Junior kicker Chris Puzzi set a school record with his 15th field goal of the season – drilling a 38-yard kick just inside the right upright as time expired to win it for the Raiders.

Next up for the No. 8 seed is a road game against perennial NCAA FCS powerhouse North Dakota State in Fargo.

The winning field goal was Puzzi’s third of the day and moved him past Jonah Bowman into the No. 1 spot for field goals made in a single season.

Colgate’s 23-20 triumph over No. 6 James Madison is win No. 10 on the season for the Raiders and marks only the fourth time in program history a team has reached double-digit victories.

In a game where neither team led by more than seven points, Colgate was afforded the last chance at victory when it stopped JMU on a fake-punt attempt at the Raiders 41-yard line with 2:46 to play.

Two plays later sophomore quarterback Grant Breneman, who saw his first action in a month after an injury, hit Owen Rockett with a 26-yard strike to put the Raiders well inside Puzzi’s range. Breneman finished with 223 total yards and accounted for a pair of touchdowns. But he was 8 of 11 for 130 yards with a TD pass and a rushing touchdown in the second half.

Colgate’s record setting defense came up with five interceptions, led by Tyler Castillo snaring a pair of picks.

Clemson: The undefeated and College Football Playoff bound Tigers became the first school in ACC history to win four consecutive titles outright by rolling over Pitt in the championship game 42-10. Travis Etienne rushed for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only 12 carries to pace the Clemson. The Tigers defense, shredded for more than 500 passing yards the week prior in a victory over rival South Carolina, limited the Panthers to 8 yards through the air.

Northwestern: Despite scoring back-to-back touchdowns on consecutive possessions to start the second to trim Ohio State’s lead to a field goal, the Wildcats came up short against OSU in the their first appearance in the Big Ten Championship game. Northwestern had a season-high 10 tackles for a loss and averaged 6.1 yards per play offensively, but it still wasn’t enough against the firepower of the Buckeyes.

Penn State: Current chapter leader and former Penn State Chapter President Trace McSorley is one of 13 finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy who will be in New York City Tuesday night to find out who wins the annual scholar-athlete award presented by the National Football Foundation. McSorley has one final game to quarterback for the Nittany Lions and will leave Happy Valley as the most decorated quarterback in school history. The senior from Virginia, whom most FBS schools recruited as a defensive back, holds Penn State’s career records for: passing yards (9,080), passing touchdowns (71), total offense (10,590), rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (27), touchdowns responsible for (98), 300-yard passing games (10) and 200-yard passing games (26).

Illinois: Senior offensive lineman and Chapter President Nick Allegretti wrapped up his stellar Illini career and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. Allegretti, a finalist for the 11th Rare Disease Champion Award, made 37 consecutive starts and logged nearly 2,500 snaps to complete his Illinois resume. The football program recently honored Allegretti by awarding him the Service Above Self Award for his commitment to giving back. In addition to being a finalist for the Rare Disease Champion Award, Allegretti is a 2018 Jason Witten Man of the Year semifinalist, 2018 Campbell Trophy semifinalist, 2018 Senior CLASS Award candidate and is a two-time Wuerffel Trophy nominee and AFCA Good Works Team watch list honoree. He was also a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy as a top scholar-athlete.

Princeton: Senior quarterback John Lovett claimed the Ivy League’s 2018 Football Offensive Player of the Year. This is the second time in three years Lovett has claimed the award. Lovett is the fifth two-time winner of the Bushnell Cup, joining an esteemed club that includes Cornell’s Ed Marinaro (1970-71), Yale’s John Pagliaro (1976-77), Harvard’s Carl Morris (2001-02) and Harvard’s Zack Hodges (2013-14). He is the 12th Bushnell Cup winner from Princeton and the third-straight Tiger quarterback to be named Offensive Player of the Year (John Lovett, 2016; Chad Kanoff, 2017).

Uplifting Athletes has eight teams that will play at least one more game before their 2018 season is complete. Notre Dame and Clemson are two of the four squads in the College Football Playoff and Penn State (Citrus), NC State (Gator), Northwestern (Holiday), Syracuse (Camping World), Baylor (Texas) and Western Michigan (Famous Idaho Potato) are headed to bowl games.