Northwestern Chapter leader and long snapper Peter Snodgrass featured this week for 2018 Beyond The Trophy series

SNODGRASS 1Each 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: Peter Snodgrass

College: Northwestern University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-0, 205 pound redshirt sophomore long snapper

High School: Palo Alto HS, Palo Alto, Calif.

About Snodgrass: A highly decorated high school linebacker, center and long snapper, Snodgrass is in his second season at Northwestern and is the No. 2 long snapper on the depth chart for the Wildcats. … Serves in a leadership position for the Northwestern Football Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. … Snodgrass was a team captain all four years of high school, is an Eagle Scout and was a President’s Gold Award honoree for community service.

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

Snodgrass: Beating Michigan State in triple overtime last season.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

Snodgrass: Trey Klock, our chapter president, was a teammate I looked up to on the team. He told me about Uplifting Athletes and how it allows us to use our influence as football players to help raise awareness and support the rare disease community. As soon as I learned more about Uplifting Athletes, I realized I needed to get involved to support those I know with rare diseases.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

Snodgrass: I have learned how to organize and lead my teammates to tackle rare diseases. Our voice, as college football players, carries a lot of weight. People take notice to what college football players are doing, and I believe it’s my duty to utilize this voice to support a cause I believe in.

As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

Snodgrass: My favorite experience is running out of the tunnel for the opening kickoff. Every time I do this, I feel like I am 6 years old living out my dream.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

Snodgrass: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo because I am trusting him to bring the 49ers back to the glory days.

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

Snodgrass: William Campbell. He coached football at and played football for Columbia then went on to become known as the “Coach of Silicon Valley”. He was a trailblazer who believed personal relationships mattered more than the politics of business.

What is your favorite road stadium you ever played in and why?

Snodgrass: Nebraska because we won in overtime and the environment there was electric.


What is your perfect pizza?

Snodgrass: Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Sausage, and Onions.

Last 3 songs you added to your playlist?

Snodgrass: Dark Necessities by Red Hot Chili Peppers; Beautiful Escape by Tom Misch and Good Intentions by Disclosure.

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

Snodgrass: In-n-Out Burger.

 Favorite sports team (any sport)?

Snodgrass: San Francisco 49ers.

What is the most used app on your phone?

Snodgrass: Twitter.

No. 1 goal for yourself in 5 years?

Snodgrass: To be happy.


Second-half rally pushes Maryland to 2-0 and highlights Week 2 Chapter Update

Week 2 Newsletter MailchimpSuffering from a bit of a hangover after pulling off an upset of Texas in its opener, Maryland found itself on the road and trailing Bowling Green at halftime.

The Terps had little trouble moving the ball in the opening two quarters, but a plethora of penalties stalled Maryland drives and kept the offense from putting points on the board.

That changed in the second half for the Terrapins, as Maryland finally took the lead late in the third quarter then used it’s fierce running game to pile on 28 fourth-quarter points to outscore the Falcons 35-0 the second half.

In a year charged with emotion following a turbulent offseason, Maryland is 2-0 and hosts winless Temple before embarking on its nine-game Big Ten schedule for 2018.

Ty Johnson and Tayon Fleet-Davis combined for 226 of the Terrapins 444 rushing yards with three fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Davidson: Sparked by a pair of 100-yard rushers the Wildcats stayed almost exclusively on the ground against Division II Chowan and piled up 426 rushing yards to improve to 2-0. Slot back William Wicks had 132 of those yards on only nine carries, but three of those totes went for touchdowns to earn the junior Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honors.

Clemson: The No. 2 ranked Tigers went on the road to College Station and received a full test from Texas A&M. The Aggies scored the final 13 points powered by QB Kellen Mond throwing for 430 yards and three scores. Despite Mond’s late heroics, it was Clemson QB Kelly Bryant’s clutch throws and dual threat that allowed the Tigers to hold on.

Catch up with Clemson Chapter leader Patrick Godfrey in the 2018 debut of Uplifting Athletes Beyond The Trophy series.

Illinois: Another slow first-half start offensively didn’t keep the Fighting Illini from getting to 2-0 this season with 20 second-half points including a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by the Illinois special teams. Back-up quarterback M.J. Rivers came in for injured starter AJ Bush and threw for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Stony Brook: The Seawolves built a 20-0 lead, but saw visiting Bryant rally to take the lead just past the midway point of the third quarter. Stony Brook responded with the final 30 points to get the FCS nationally ranked Seawolves their first win of the season.

Penn State: Fueled by a defense that got off to a rough start but closed with a bang by recording 10 tackles for a loss and four sacks, the Nittany Lions shredded in-state rival Pitt on the road.

Saint Francis: Red Flash quarterback Bear Fenimore rallied his squad after they fell behind early with four consecutive scoring drives in the first quarter to grab a comfortable 28-7 lead after 15 minutes. Fenimore finished with 201 passing yards with a pair of touchdowns and two rushing scores.

Baylor: After winning only one game in his debut as Baylor head coach last year, Matt Ruhle’s Bears are off to a 2-0 start this season. Sophomore QB Charlie Brewer, part of a two-quarterback rotation, threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns.

Syracuse: Orange quarterback Eric Dungey continues to pile up records, tying the Syracuse record for the most touchdown passes in a game with five in a cruise-control victory over FCS opponent Wagner in the home opener.

Colgate: Raiders quarterback Grant Breneman plunged over from 1 yard out early in the second quarter for the only touchdown of the game in a defensive battle. The teams combined for fewer than 500 yards of total offense.

NC State: The deep receiving corps of the Wolfpack is paying dividends, as despite early injuries NC State continues to pile up points in the passing game. QB Ryan Finley threw for 370 yards and former walk-on wide receiver Thayer Thomas had nine grabs for 114 yards including a highlight-reel one-handed touchdown grab.

Florida State: New Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart picked up his first victory thanks to 320 passing yards and three touchdowns from Deondre Fancois including the game winner with 4:03 to play to rally FSU past FCS Samford.



Davidson slot back William Wicks scores three times on nine carries to earn Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honors

WICKSOn a day when Davidson College was content to keep the ball on the ground against NCAA Division II Chowan, the Wildcats had 11 runners combine for 58 carries and more than 400 rushing yards to power Davidson to a 49-28 victory to start the season 2-0.

William Wicks, a 5-9, 172-pound versatile slot back for Davidson, was one of two Wildcats who cracked the 100-yard barrier against the Hawks.

Wicks carried only nine times, but three of those went for touchdowns before the 9-minute mark of the second quarter to earn the Davidson junior the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

The native of Fayetteville, NC finished with 132 yards on the ground and averaged a staggering 14.7 yards per carry thanks to touchdowns runs covering 60 and 38 yards before his 5-yard dash at the 9:50 mark of the second quarter gave the Wildcats a 28-7 lead.

Wicks and Wildcats sophomore running back Wesley Dugger combined to rush for 285 of Davidson’s 426 yards on only 25 carries with four touchdowns.

Previous Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week Winners

Week 1: Eric Dungey, Syracuse


Clemson Chapter leader and offensive lineman Patrick Godfrey kicks off 2018 Beyond The Trophy series

GODFREYEach 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: Patrick Godfrey

College: Clemson University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-2, 270-pound senior offensive lineman

High School: Harborfields HS in Greenlawn, N.Y.

About Godfrey: The native of New York had a preferred walk-on offer from Stony Brook University and other FCS schools were interested in the offensive lineman. Godfrey wanted something different, though. He wanted the big-time college football experience of the Deep South and chose to Clemson a shot. He was accepted, tried out for the team and made it as a walk-on. Prior to the 2017 season Godfrey was awarded a scholarship by head coach Dabo Swinney. … He graduated with an economics degree in less than three years and is a graduate student. … Godfrey has appeared in 16 games for the Tigers heading into this season with more than 60 snaps to his credit. Last year he appeared in 13 games for Clemson.

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

Godfrey: My most memorable experience as a college football player was running down the hill against Notre Dame. I grew up a die-hard Irish fan, and it was only my second time ever running down the hill. Add to that the hurricane conditions and massive stakes of the contest, and you have a truly unforgettable moment.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

Godfrey: My best friend was already involved. I saw the profound impact his work with the Rare Disease community had on him and I wanted in.

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

Godfrey: I’ve learned that as Division 1 athletes we have an incredible platform, and that the best thing to do with that is to look out for those who might not have a big voice for themselves. The Rare Disease Community needs more advocates, and I’m happy to join the fight.

As a player, what is your favorite part of the game day experience at your home stadium?

Godfrey: Running down the hill. It really is the “most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

Godfrey: My favorite NFL player is Peyton Manning. His incredible work ethic was always something that I admired- I try to go above and beyond in whatever I do in the same manner he did with film study.

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

Godfrey: I would have lunch with Ronald Reagan. I’m an economics guy and I loved his fiscal platform.

What is your favorite road stadium you ever played in and why?

Godfrey: Virginia Tech- that place was absolutely wild. The whole stadium shook for Enter Sandman and those fans berated us start to finish.

2017 video of Godfrey sharing the story of receiving his scholarship


What is your perfect pizza?

Godfrey: Little Vincent’s Cold Cheese in Huntington, NY.

 Last 3 songs you added to your playlist?

Godfrey: All Bob Seger: Night Moves, Mainstreet and Old Time Rock n’ Roll.

 What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

Godfrey: Wendy’s 4 for 4- great deal, great food.

 Favorite sports team (any sport)?

Godfrey: The New York Football Giants.

 What is the most used app on your phone?

Godfrey: Instagram. I’m addicted to checking my newsfeed.

No. 1 goal for yourself in 5 years?

Godfrey: Become the family man that my Father is, by keeping God first.

Western Michigan and Syracuse Rare Disease Awareness Game highlights Week 1 Chapter Update

WEEK 1 GRAPHICWestern Michigan and Syracuse football programs joined forces Friday night for their wild season opener to make the game an Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Awareness Game.

Players from each team wore Uplifting Athletes stickers on their helmets in support of the Rare Disease Community.

During the first quarter, rare disease patient Chloe Hunt from Alagille Syndrome Alliance, along with her mother and 14-year-old twin sister, joined the teams on the field and were recognized.

Prior to the game Chloe and her family were given a tour of the Western Michigan football facilities and were also able to meet the Syracuse players and coaching staff in the tunnel before warm-ups.

The game itself was a tale of two halves, as the Orange raced out to a comfortable 27-point halftime lead before the Broncos put together a furious second-half rally that made Syracuse insert starting quarterback Eric Dungey back into the game.

Western Michigan had no answer for Dungey, as the senior rang up 384 total yards of offense and three touchdowns. His 200 rushing yards was a single-game school and ACC record for yards on the ground by a quarterback and earned Dungey the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions used a little veteran savvy from quarterback Trace McSorley and the playmaking ability of newcomer K.J. Hamler to escape the legitimate upset bid of Appalachian State with an improbable overtime victory. Seven plays after Hamler returned a kickoff 52 yards, McSorley hit the redshirt freshman for a 15-yard touchdown pass inside the final minute to force overtime.

Northwestern: Strong first-half performances by running back Jeremy Larkin and quarterback Clayton Thorson allowed the Wildcats to score all 31 of their points in the first half to hold off Purdue on the road. Northwestern winning another close game is no real surprise.

Illinois: Behind the stellar second-half by dual-threat quarterback AJ Bush the Fighting Illini rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to edge Kent State for its 21st consecutive victory in the home opener. Bush finished with 329 of the Illin’s 469 total yards (190 passing and 139 rushing). Reggie Corbin’s 1-yard plunge with 10:39 to play was the difference.

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish landed some big-play haymakers early and built a 21-10 lead then turned it over the Notre Dame defense to slam the door on Michigan in a marquee Week 1 match-up. The ND defense limited Michigan to 307 total yards and forced a pair of key turnovers. Te’von Coney and Khalid Kareem combined for 19 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks to pace the Fighting Irish defense.

Baylor: Using a balanced attack offensively, 295 rushing and 311 passing, allowed the Bears to race to a comfortable non-conference victory that snapped Baylor’s eight-game losing skid at home. Three of the Bears’ first four touchdowns covered 20 or more yards.

Davidson: The Wildcats overcame weather delays with a fast start fueled by RB Wesley Dugger’s 67-yard scamper for a touchdown on the third snap of the game. Davidson rolled up more than 400 yards of offense and scored all 34 of its points in the first half.

Maryland: The Terrapins came up huge for the second year in a row in the opener, stunning previously No. 23 ranked Texas. Maryland coughed up an early 24-7 lead and had to rally in the fourth quarter to come from behind. The Terrapins forced three turnovers in the final 6:09 and scored the final 10 points to post an emotionally charged victory.

NC State: Junior wide receiver Jakobi Meyers posted a career-high 14 catches for 161 yards to help the Wolfpack hold off FCS power James Madison. NC State was a slick 11-for-16 on third-down conversions and its defense allowed only one touchdown.

Colgate: Behind 194 passing yards and two touchdowns from sophomore QB Grant Breneman the Raiders were able to edge Holy Cross to record their eighth consecutive win over the Crusaders. Colgate had to hold off a late rally from Holy Cross, after building a 24-0 halftime lead.

Clemson: As expected, the Tigers went to 33-0 against FCS opponents behind strong efforts from both of its quarterbacks in easily dispatching of Furman by 41 points.

Lehigh: Running back Dominick Bragalone rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns and the Mountain Hawks’ Jon Seighman blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt with 33 seconds remaining to hold off fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter Saint Francis.



Syracuse QB Eric Dungey sets school and ACC record with 200 rushing yards to earn Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honors

DUNGEY 1In the end it took a record-breaking performance from Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey for the Orange to record their first victory of the season on the road since 2010.

Dungey accounted for 384 yards of total offense and all 55 Syracuse points were scored with him on the field in a victory at Western Michigan.

The 200 rushing yards he posted are school and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) records for a single game by a quarterback and earned the senior from Oregon the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week.

Dungey completed only seven of his 17 attempts, but those seven completions went for 184 yards (26.3 yards per completion) with a pair of touchdowns.

Western Michigan had no answer for Dungey running the ball, either. His 15 carries went for that record breaking 200 yards for a stellar average of 13.3 yards per carry with one touchdown.


Detroit Lions’ Zach Zenner working to cure rare disease, save kids’ lives

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

This story was written by ESPN Staff Writer Michael Rothstein and published on August 29, 2018. We are sharing this story as it was printed. To see the original link on click here.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — He finished his workout, got in his car and drove 1.8 miles from the Detroit Lions‘ practice facility to a Starbucks inside a Barnes & Noble. Zach Zenner sat down, opened up his laptop and began his second job: trying to save the lives of children.

For at least two hours each day this spring, inside the bookstore he has gone to since his rookie year, Zenner logged on to a microscope almost 1,000 miles away at Sanford Research. There, he read images of the stained brains of mice studied in a lab. He recorded the results and analyzed the data.

This was Zenner’s latest offseason, medical-research project, joining Dr. Jill Weimer’s team at Sanford searching for effective drug treatments and, hopefully, eventually, a cure for Batten Disease. This was different than Zenner’s past two years studying hypertension and diabetes in Detroit-based labs, earning him a medical-journal publication. This time, he was working remotely instead of having his hands in everything. His responsibilities changed, forcing him to use different brain muscles.

And he was working to find a way to keep children alive from a rare, debilitating disease.

All 13 types of Batten Disease — a group of lysosomal storage genetic disorders — affect children. The National Institutes of Health estimates that between two and four of every 100,000 children in the United States will be diagnosed with a form of Batten. Almost all are fatal, most by the time the child reaches age 12. There is no cure. Only one form — CLN2 — has a potentially effective treatment.

When Zenner started working on Batten, he didn’t know much about it. Assigned to write an introduction for a couple of papers, he began to dive deep into the disease. Children with Batten, according to the NIH, appear healthy at birth and can start showing symptoms anywhere from infancy to age 4 or 5, depending on the form.

Eventually, the children can become blind, unable to communicate and are sometimes confined to a wheelchair.

“It just puts it in perspective what you’re doing,” Zenner said. “It might seem like all you’re doing is crunching numbers and looking at image slides, but then you always have to have in the back of your mind what the overall picture is, which is trying to help those kids out that have it.”


Zenner ended up on the project because it fit his schedule demands. He knew he would have to work remotely due to a combination of his hectic life, lab location, football training and the birth of his first child.

Sanford invited him to work there, in part, because he already is accepted to the University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine. A good opportunity to do quality research along with making connections for his future, he accepted.

He met Weimer, who was skeptical of the arrangement at first. She figured she might hear from him once or twice and that he’d work when he could. She didn’t expect him to become a fully immersed part of the group, including participating in the group WhatsApp chat and twice-weekly lab meetings via Skype.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Weimer said. “Even the week after they had the baby, he logged into lab meetings. He’s holding the baby in his arms while his wife was getting some rest. It was so impressive.”

Zenner became one of two “Weimer Lab Ghosts” along with Katherine White, whom he worked with almost daily — communicating what they were seeing and the data they were tracking.

Zenner’s past two years placed him in labs studying mice under microscopes, participating in different tests, feeding them, recording data and sometimes doing postmortem surgery to help with results. This project, over the span of six months, featured his critical thinking and a more intensive scientific-writing regimen.

“To go back and write again is such a good exercise and so important in science,” Zenner said. “To do that was really good. A good exercise. It was just different skills. The image analysis is something that is a part of any lab work and ended up just being more of my focus this time around, and it’s good.

“It’s a good skill to have, and although it is different, it is still very important for a lot of labs that you work in.”

Weimer had Zenner record the results he read on the microscope blindly — meaning he didn’t know which slides were the disease with drug treatment and which were without — so he could make unbiased decisions about whether or not the treatment was working.

Much of Zenner’s work focused specifically on CLN6, with which symptoms begin within a child’s first few years. It leads to children losing the ability to walk, speak and, eventually, see. Kids with CLN6 usually die by their early teenage years. There is also an adult-onset version of CLN6 that has a slower rate of decline.

CLN6 is trickier, Weimer said; from her observations, if a family’s first child has it, somehow the second child often does, as well — even though it should be only a 1-in-4 possibility.

For any type of Batten to occur, the child has to receive a bad gene from both parents, both of whom have to be carriers for the disease. A lot of recent Batten disease research funding came from the Charlotte and Gwenyth Gray Foundation, a nonprofit started by Gordon Gray — a producer on the films “Miracle,” “The Rookie” and “Million Dollar Arm” — and his wife, Kristen. Their two daughters have Batten. Money raised by their research helped create a gene therapy clinical trial in less than a year.

“Part of what Zach was involved in was helping us with the analysis of screening gene therapy in other forms of Batten disease and just knowing that sometimes it could take a long time for kids to get the cue to receive the gene therapy,” Weimer said. “Or some of them aren’t eligible for the gene therapy trial, so what other drugs or treatments are there out on the market that we can actually be treating these kids with?

“Also, gene therapy is so new, we have no clue how long it is going to last, so we’ll always want to have an arsenal of treatments ready to go. So the drugs Zach was involved in screening were really those next-generation treatments that we kind of have cued up after the gene therapy.”

Zenner, standing in the Lions’ locker room earlier this month, shook his head when he was asked what he learned about Batten. He could have been there for hours and not covered all of it. Working on a rare disease parents and children have no control over left him with a greater appreciation of the wonder of the human body.

“I’m always struck by how easy it is for things to go wrong, like you have one genetic mutation and you’re missing this protein and now you have an autosomal storage disorder and you have progressive nerve degeneration and you die when you’re 8 years old,” Zenner said. “You know, it’s horrible. But it’s such a small thing that turns into such a large consequence.

“I’m always struck by how the human body is put together and how so many things can go wrong. But when you look at the general population, how often it doesn’t go wrong and the miracle of human life, I guess.”

Studying humans — and helping them — has always been Zenner’s goal. He applied to medical school before he knew professional football would be a reality.

He has deferred Sanford’s acceptance yearly as he stayed with the Lions. While Sanford still has an agreement to accept him, because his NFL career has been an actual career — something unknown when he was an undrafted free agent out of South Dakota State in 2015 — he likely has to retake the MCAT.

It would seem like it could have been a decision point for Zenner between football and medicine, but he insisted it isn’t. Football, with which he’s on the roster bubble with the Lions, is still the priority. Zenner is committed to football for as long as it will have him. But he also knows what’s waiting for him after.

“What we’ve discussed a little bit of is a conditional acceptance — like if I retake my MCAT and I get a certain score, then I will maintain my acceptance to the school,” Zenner said. “It’s more a ‘take it to stay at USD.’ It’s not like they revoked it.

“It’s not a decision point for me. Having to retake it — at this point in my career, I’m going to have to retake it either way.”

As long as the Sanford acceptance remains, and there’s no reason to think it won’t, he’ll eventually start classes there. When he does, he already has been offered a job in Weimer’s lab. She told Zenner he can return to do research in offseasons. When he does eventually start med school, she has a medical-student training grant ready for him so he can work for her while receiving a stipend as part of an internship program.

Zenner and Weimer hope that is still far off. After this spring, there’s little question about Zenner’s long-term future. It’ll be in medicine. In the short-term, he has an offseason working home.

“The way that it’s set up it is really easy for them to cut out little chunks for people to work on,” Zenner said. “With the way, how kind they are and how it is set up that way, it’s really easy for me to keep going back.”

When he does, there will be more lives to try to save while working from South Dakota, his home or a coffee shop somewhere.