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

Stony Brook Chapter announces annual Lift For Life to help inspire the Rare Disease Community set for March 15


The Stony Brook Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Friday, March 15th

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Stony Brook Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Stony Brook is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes by using college football as a platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

“Lift for Life and Uplifting Athletes is what college football is all about, being apart of something that is bigger than ourselves,” Stony Brook Chapter leaders Zach Lucas and Joe Detorie said. “Our program is humbled and honored to be able to inspire hope within the Rare Disease Community.”

The 2019 Stony Brook Chapter Lift For Life will be a workout competition featuring four fundraising teams. The event is private this year.

Fans and supporters can select one of the four teams and make a pledge for each yard of that particular team’s furthest medicine ball toss. So find your favorite 2019 Stony Brook player on any of the four Seawolves’ Lift For Life teams and support them by visiting the Stony Brook 2019 Lift For Life fundraising page. You can also make a flat donation to any team.

The proceeds from our 2019 Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Today, the challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Stony Brook Chapter, along with a nationwide network of teams, is uniquely positioned to educate and engage the local community to shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

The Stony Brook Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2014 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. Their inspiration comes from the long-term relationship between the Seawolves head football coach Chuck Priore and a rare disease patient, Joey Ferminella. That relationship between the Stony Brook football program and Joey continues to be an inspiration for all of us.

Please support the Stony Brook Chapter and help the 2019 Seawolves reach their impressive $8,000 team Lift For Life goal.

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


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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.

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-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

 

 

Northwestern hoists Big Ten West Division crown to highlight Week 11 Chapter Update


NORTHWESTERN LEAD GRAPHICThe Northwestern Wildcats are the 2018 Big Ten West champions and are headed to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game next month.

Northwestern took care of its business by coming from behind to bump off Iowa on the road, then Purdue and Wisconsin both lost to give the Wildcats their first Big Ten division title in school history.

The Wildcats became bowl eligible for the eighth time under head coach Pat Fitzgerald and improved to 6-1 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1996 while extending their road winning streak to seven games – a program best.

Senior quarterback Clayton Thorson made his 914th career completion at the beginning of the fourth quarter with a two-yard toss to sophomore wide receiver Riley Lees to set a school record. He finished the game 15-for-30 with 122 yards and one touchdown.

Catch up with Penn Chapter leader and Quakers wide receiver Steven Farrell in the latest installment of our Beyond The Trophy Series

Clemson: For the fourth time in as many years the Tigers are the ACC Atlantic Division champions. Honestly, though, undefeated and No. 2 ranked Clemson has much bigger aspirations this season. But locking down Boston College at Chestnut Hill was an all-important first step. QB Trevor Lawrence hit eight different receivers and threw for 216 yards in the first half alone. The Tigers defense limited BC to 24 first-half yards and 113 total and had 10 different players credited with at least a portion of a tackle for loss.

Colgate: The Raiders wrapped up the Patriot League crown and remained undefeated by posting the most points they have ever scored in 28 road trips to Lehigh. Colgate finally allowed its first touchdown since Sept. 1, a stretch of 70 days and 29 quarters between TDs. Back-up quarterback Sage Atwood earned a game-time start at quarterback over injured starter Grant Breneman and proceeded to throw for 146 yards and his first career touchdown. The senior also rushed for 61 yards and two more scores – both career highs.

The Colgate Raiders defense put together a historical stand to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance of the Week honor

Princeton: Sophomore tailback Collin Eaddy rushed for a career-high 266 yards, the most since a Tigers back since former Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Jordan Culbreath went for 276 in the 2008 season finale, to pace Princeton to a wild victory over Yale in the 141st meeting between the two schools. Princeton clinched at least a share of its 12th Ivy League title — as well as its second in three years — and its first 9-0 start since 1964 (when there were only nine games in the season).

Notre Dame: On senior night in South Bend it was a couple of seniors who led the way for the undefeated Fighting Irish against Florida State. Starting in the place of injured junior Ian Book, senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush finished the night with three touchdown passes, 130 passing yards and 68 yards rushing as the Irish jumped out to a quick lead and never relented. Classmate and running back Dexter Williams turned in a career performance in his final appearance at home, rushing for a career-high 202 yards to go with two touchdowns.

Penn State: Sparked by a defense that limited Wisconsin to it lowest point total (10 points) since 2016, the Nittany Lions recorded their 10th consecutive victory over a Big Ten West Division opponent. Running back Miles Sanders rushed for 159 yards and touchdown as the Nittany Lions scored 22 of the final 25 points to beat the Badgers for the fourth straight time.

Syracuse: The Orange exploded for 30 second-half points to overwhelm Louisville at home. Syracuse raised its record to 6-0 in the Carrier Dome this season, the fourth unbeaten home campaign in the building’s history, and they did it in front of a season-high crowd of 42,797. The Orange rushed for 326 yards on the ground and scored 27 unanswered points in an 8:15 span during the second quarter to seize control.

Stony Brook: In a battle of teams ranked inside the FCS Top 15, the Seawolves doubled up Delaware by pounding out more than 400 total yards, compared to only 201 for the Blue Hens, to claim victory. The Stony Brook defense limited Delaware to a field goal. Running back Donald Liotine went for 170 yards on the ground and his 33-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter sealed it.

Chapter Scoreboard Week 11 v'18

October meant much more than six points per touchdown for the Rare Disease Community


TDPD 18 WRAP-UP GRAPHICFor the participating members of our nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters, touchdowns during the month of October meant more than six points on the board. Each touchdown provided support to the Rare Disease Community.

The Touchdown Pledge Drive 2018 month-long campaign took place on 15 university campuses. Clemson, Colgate, Davidson, Fordham, Illinois, Lehigh, NC State, Northwestern, Penn, Penn State, Princeton, Saint Francis, Stony Brook, Syracuse and Western Michigan all participated.

“I am very impressed with our chapter leaders and how they took advantage of their platform to provide much needed awareness and support to the Rare Disease Community,” Uplifting Athletes Director Sports Impact Brett Brackett said.

Using the on-field performance of touchdowns scored is a simple way for chapter leaders to share the rare disease cause with their fan bases and leverage their platform when they are most relevant. This year the 15 schools combined to score 222 touchdowns in October.

Raising awareness for the cause on behalf of the Rare Disease Community is another pillar of the Touchdown Pledge Drive campaign. With the help of university athletic communications, individual student-athletes and coaches commitment to raising awareness, this year the campaign generated four million impressions on social media.

“We are grateful to everyone who supported this month-long campaign, chapter leaders, coaches, athletic departments and fans,” Brackett said. “Thanks for being part of our team during October and using your performance on the field to have a real impact off the field.”

The direct impact on the Rare Disease Community came through the fundraising for each touchdown scored. And those 222 touchdowns scored raised more than $25,000 to support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Illinois, Penn State and Western Michigan chapters were the top three on the fundraising impact leaderboard with the Fighting Illini leading the pack.

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 shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

Through Touchdown Pledge Drive our chapters came together as one team each working hard to meet their individual goal in order to help us all Tackle Rare Diseases.