Weekly Update: Six teams get out of the gate strong with 2-0 starts


WEEK 2 UPDATE GRAPHICCongratulations to Penn State, Maryland, Clemson, Illinois, Washington and Saint Francis for starting the 2017 season 2-0.

Defending Big Ten Champion Penn State used a fast start and solid defense to hold off in-state rival Pittsburgh at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions defense, led by 12 tackles from safety Marcus Allen, came up with three turnovers, had five sacks and nine tackles for a loss in holding the Panthers to one touchdown.

Maryland’s offense has scored 50 or more points in both its victories over previously ranked Texas (51 points) and in the their home opener against Towson (63).

The Terps piled up nearly 400 yards on the ground led by Ty Johnson’s 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only five carries.

Meet University of Maryland Chapter President and kicker Adam Greene in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

Defending National Champion Clemson used a spectacular defensive effort to subdue Auburn at Death Valley. The Tigers’ defense limited Auburn to six points and 117 total yards on 66 plays. The Clemson defense also registered 11 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss.

Illinois running back Mike Epstein rushed for 111 yards and the Fighting Illini defense held Western Kentucky to fewer than 250 yards to grab a 13-point victory and improve to 2-0.

Led by 259 yards and a couple touchdowns from QB Jake Browning, the Washington Huskies put up more than 500 yards of total offense in a cruise-control victory over Montana.

Saint Francis QB Bear Fenimore threw for nearly 300 yards and RB Jymere Jordan-Toney added 105 yards on the ground with a score to power the Red Flash to 2-0 with a convincing home victory.

Stony Brook used a pair of touchdowns 2 minutes apart in the fourth quarter to pull away from Rhode Island to notch its first victory of the season.

Led by an impressive outing from Uplifting Athletes Player of the Week Ryan Finley, NC State defeated Marshall in their home opener at Carter-Finley Stadium.

After a gut-wrenching loss to Tennessee in its opener, Georgia Tech rebounded to claim its first victory of the year over Jacksonville State on the strength of a 20-point third quarter and a strong Yellow Jackets defense.

Fordham defensive back Lawrence Menyah returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown with 1:29 to play to propel the Rams to a come-from-behind victory. Fordham scored the final 17 points after falling behind 31-21 midway through the third quarter.

 

 

Weekly Chapter Update: ’16 Rare Disease Champion Jake Olson plays for USC Trojans


JAKE UA PHOTOUSC long snapper Jake Olson has fulfilled his dream of playing in a college football game.

The 2016 winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award is now officially a USC Trojans football letterman after snapping for the final extra point in the Trojans’ season opening victory over Western Michigan.

“I just loved being out there,” Olson said. “It was an awesome feeling, something that I’ll remember forever.

Olson is legally blind after losing sight in both eyes to the rare disease retinoblastoma. He lost his left eye to the disease at 10 months.  The night before his final surgery in 2009 to take the sight in his right eye away, then USC head coach Pete Carroll invited Olson to meet the team.

“To take a situation that ugly, and then to fast-forward eight years and to have that same kid be able to snap on the football field with the team that really got him through that time, is just beautiful. It’s emotional. Incredible,” Olson said.

Carroll, the Seahawks head coach, was tipped off this might happen so he was watching on TV Saturday night when Olson entered the game.

“I was so excited to see it I couldn’t stop crying. It was thrilling,” Carroll told The Seattle Times. “That was an incredible moment. I’m so glad that coach (Clay) Helton figured out a way to create an opportunity for Jake to show what he could do. This is just an extraordinary young man.”

He was invited to join the Trojans squad after he enrolled at USC in the fall of 2015 and received an NCAA waiver to practice with the team. He snapped in the spring games, but it wasn’t until last Saturday that Olson saw the field in a regular season game.

Meet Stony Brook Chapter President and tight end P.J. Edwards in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

 In what is clearly the biggest win for the Maryland program this decade – and perhaps even longer.  The Terrapins marched into Austin a nearly three-touchdown underdog to No. 23 Texas and marched away with a 51-41 victory.

It was the first victory for Maryland against a ranked opponent on the road in nine years.

Maryland led 27-7 at one point in the second half, then held off a Longhorns rally that included Texas touchdowns on a blocked field goal return, a kickoff return and interception return for a score.

Running back Ty Johnson was a beast for the Terrapins, rushing for 132 yards, returning a kickoff 60 yards and scoring one touchdown. Wide receiver D.J. Moore had a big afternoon as well with seven catches for 133 yards and a score.

Illinois used a late touchdown from Mike Epstein and a blocked field goal as time expired to rally past Ball State at home.

Defending National Champion Clemson rolled up 665 yards of total offense on its way to a comfortable victory over Kent State at Death Valley. New starting QB threw for 236 yards on only 22 attempts.

Penn State, the defending Big Ten Champion, saw its dynamic trio of QB Trace McSorley, RB Saquon Barkley and TE Mike Gesicki each account for two touchdowns in blanking Akron. Barkley, a Heisman Trophy candidate, accounted for 256 total yards on 18 touches.

Notre Dame running backs Josh Adams and Dexter Williams, a 2017 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award finalist, combined for 285 yards and three touchdowns as the Fighting Irish subdued Temple. Adams earned Uplifting Athletes Player of the Week honors for his stellar effort.

Nebraska was embroiled in a nip-and-tuck affair with underrated Arkansas State all the way before holding on for a seven-point victory over the Red Wolves. Husker RB Trey Bryant rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.

Washington, Syracuse and Northwestern all won their openers in different fashion. Northwestern needed a pair of 1-yard TD plunges by QB Clayton Thorson to rally past Nevada. Syracuse put up big numbers offensively in rolling Central Connecticut State and defending Pac-12 Champion Washington subdued Rutgers by outscoring the Scarlet Knights 20-7 in the second half.

Georgia Tech dropped a heartbreaker in double OT to Tennessee Monday night. And Stony Brook came up with a strong effort against nationally ranked USF on the road in Tampa before a late flurry allowed the Bulls to edge the Seawolves.

NEW CHAPTER SCOREBOARD

Seven Uplifting Athletes chapter leaders up for off-the-field awards in 2017


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Uplifting Athletes is proud to have seven college football student-athlete chapter leaders nominated for national off-the-field awards this year.

Five players are nominated for the AFCA Good Works Team and four are on the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy.

Syracuse quarterback Zach Mahoney and kicker Adam Greene of Maryland made the grade on both lists.

Joining those two as nominees for the AFCA Good Works Team are center Nick Allegretti from Illinois, defensive lineman Kurt Holuba from Princeton and Nebraska linebacker Chris Weber.

Since 1992, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team has brought together a select group of college football players from across the country to honor their dedication to volunteerism and enriching the lives of others. While players are often recognized for their accomplishments and achievements on game day, these student-athletes have made significant contributions to the greater good of society, inspiring future generations of young athletes and the larger college football community.

Uplifting Athletes has placed at least one player on the AFCA Good Works Team every year since 2012.

Joining Mahoney and Greene on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list are Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and Florida State center Alec Eberle.

The Wuerffel Trophy is presented annually by the All Sports Association in Fort Walton Beach Florida.  Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel from the University of Florida, the Wuerffel Trophy is awarded to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

Congratulations to these seven Uplifting Athletes chapter leaders for making the rare disease cause a priority and using the power of sport for social good.

 

 

It’s Touchdown Pledge Drive Season again!


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For the fourth consecutive year, our chapters will shine a spotlight on rare diseases by holding a Touchdown Pledge Drive (TDPD) game.

This year, the entire nationwide chapter network will play their TDPD game during the month of September.

The Touchdown Pledge Drive game is an excellent chance for each chapter to expose the rare disease cause to their college football fan base and bring another level of awareness and support to the rare disease community.

Uplifting Athletes chapters are run by football student-athletes. So, for fans, this is a great way to support the players on your favorite team off the field in their efforts to use the power of sport for social good.

Please visit the Uplifting Athletes Touchdown Pledge Drive hub and choose your favorite team to support. Simply make a pledge towards the number of touchdowns your team scores that day and follow along to see the impact you are helping the players make.

Every dollar helps Uplifting Athletes and its chapter network tackle rare diseases.

The proceeds from Touchdown Pledge Drive 2017 support Uplifting Athletes and its commitment to leadership development, patient focused programs, rare disease awareness and rare disease research.

 

Summer Lift For Life: Ten events all focused on shining a spotlight on rare diseases


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Before we wave goodbye to summer and usher in the college football season, let’s take a look back at a fast and furious six weeks that was the second phase of our 2017 Lift For Life season.

This summer featured a milestone Lift For Life, a road race that turned five years young and continues to grow, a Kids Combine where National Champions hang out, an inaugural Lift For Life at a history-rich institution and one chapter getting back on the rotation.

Ten events took place in July and early August with a singular focus: shining a spotlight on rare diseases and inspiring others with hope.

Our first stop is a milestone for Uplifting Athletes. Our charter chapter at Penn State held its 15th annual Lift For Life. The Nittany Lions moved indoors this year to Holuba Hall and focused on an offense vs. defense max bench press competition to add some spice for the players.

The work done behind the scenes by each chapter leadership team can be a driving force to measurable success. Maryland and Illinois held private Lift For Life events this year, yet it was clear each chapter was raising awareness and shining a spotlight on rare diseases. That speaks highly to the chapter leadership for the Illini and Terrapins.

For the fifth consecutive year the Nebraska Chapter hosted the Football Road Race that featured a 5K and 1-mile run. The event is strongly supported by the Lincoln Track Club, and this year the event saw a record number of online registrants.  More than 700 total runners came out on a Sunday morning to show that in the Cornhusker state, rare pediatric cancers matter.

Patience and perseverance paid off for the Notre Dame Chapter. After years of trying to get a Lift For Life up and running through all the proper channels, the 2017 leadership team finally cleared all the hurdles and the Fighting Irish not only did their Uplifting Experience annual bowling event, but got after it in the weight room on max leg presses to give their Lift For Life some competitive juice.

In true Defending National Champion-style, Clemson added the inaugural Kids Combine to their summer event schedule. This was in addition to the Tigers holding their annual Lift For Life.

Florida State’s players continue to champion the rare disease cause in support of coach Jimbo Fisher’s son Ethan and his battle with a rare blood disorder. This was the fourth year the Seminoles have used Lift For Life to put a cap on their summer workout season.

Syracuse continues to build its strong roots in support of the rare disease community. The Orange and their relationship with the Belfield family continue to be a source of inspiration, and once again rare disease patient Lillian and her family were part of Lift For Life.

For the third year in a row the NC State Chapter used a combination of individual and 7-on-7 drills as the highlights of the Wolfpack Lift For Life. Once again having their event open to the public was the key to spreading the word about rare diseases.

And the final Lift For Life event this summer featured an FCS chapter – Fordham – that last held an Uplifting Athletes event in 2014. The Rams put the pieces back together and made rare diseases a priority again in the Bronx.

On behalf of the rare disease community we serve, thanks to every chapter leader, college football student-athlete, donor, volunteer and university administrator who helped make Lift For Life 2017 possible.

Together … We Are … Stronger!

Annual Illinois Chapter Lift For Life in support of the rare disease community set for June 23rd


ILLINOIS GRAPHIC 17The Illinois Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the rare disease community on Friday, June 23rd at 8:00 a.m.

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

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

The 2017 Illinois Chapter Lift For Life pits eight teams comprised of Fighting Illini players competing to knock out as many bench press reps as possible in six minutes. Each team has a goal of 170-200 total reps during the allotted time.

Fans and supporters can make a pledge for every bench press rep a particular team records during the event. So find your favorite 2017 Fighting Illini player and support his team by visiting the Illinois Chapter Lift For Life fundraising page.

The proceeds from the Illinois Chapter annual Lift For Life supports Uplifting Athletes and its commitment to life skills development, patient focused programs and rare disease research.

Today, the challenges faced by the rare disease community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Illinois 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 Illinois Chapter began in 2011 and serves the rare disease community in honor of Andrew Carter, a former Illini offensive lineman who battled the rare disease acoustic neuroma. Carter is a rare disease survivor but, unfortunately, never played football again. He remains a strong supporter of the Illinois Chapter and his battle continues to serve as an inspiration for the Fighting Illini to serve the rare disease community.

Please support the Illinois Chapter and help the Fighting Illini reach their impressive $20,000 team Lift For Life goal.

Annual Leadership Development Conference arms student-athlete chapter leaders with tools for success


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As Uplifting Athletes continues to evolve and expand its footprint as a champion of the rare disease community, our nationwide chapter network led by current college football student-athletes continues to be the rock of our foundation.

Educating and training these leaders on the mission and vision of Uplifting Athletes is critical to being able to use the power of sport to inspire the rare disease community with hope. We want to enable these student-athletes to have the biggest impact they can.

This past weekend in Philadelphia, 23 chapter leaders from 14 universities came together for Leadership Development Conference 2017.

Led by the Uplifting Athletes staff, the conference was three days of education, training and relationship building all centered around making a greater impact on the rare disease community.

“I wasn’t aware of how much Uplifting Athletes has done and is doing. The platform we have is such an opportunity,” said Christian Groomes, a chapter leader from Clemson. “It was cool to see all the opportunities we have to raise money and support rare diseases. I think we are going to be a hit at Clemson with some of the ideas we have now.”

Chapter leaders from Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Syracuse, Illinois, Florida State, Maryland, Stony Brook, Penn and Saint Francis committed a weekend of their short offseason to attend the conference.

Included in the workshop sessions on Saturday and Sunday were an overview of Uplifting Athletes, a team building exercise, Lift For Life and Touchdown Pledge Drive event planning, transferable life skills development, communication and social media training, and an introduction to rare disease patient engagement through Uplifting Experiences.

There was also a breakout session hosted by Kristen Angell from the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD).

In between work sessions, the student-athletes were able to experience some of the unique sights of Philadelphia. There was a cheesesteak lunch in Logan Park followed by a trip to the Art Museum and the “Rocky Steps” for team pictures. Lunch on Sunday was outside the famous City Hall, and the players were free Saturday evening to explore the city and spend some off time together.

“It was a great experience overall. I learned a lot and it was great to get to know the guys from other schools,” Penn State Chapter leader Jason Cabinda said. “There was a lot I can take back to the rest of the guys and share that will help us going forward.”