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.”

 

Uplifting Athletes set to host 24 student-athlete chapter leaders for 2017 Leadership Development Conference


LDC 17 GRAPHICFor our eighth consecutive year, we will gather college football student-athletes that are current or future chapter leaders together for three days of education and training during the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference.

This year 24 current football players from 13 universities across the country will travel to Philadelphia on Friday, May 19 to kick off a busy weekend of engaging work sessions, networking and relationship building.

Chapter leaders from Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Syracuse, Illinois, Florida State, Maryland, Stony Brook, Penn and Saint Francis will start the 2017 conference with a team meal Friday night prior to a full Saturday agenda.

The weekend agenda is driven by the Uplifting Athletes staff, but will also feature a breakout session focused on the rare disease community hosted by Kristen Angell from the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD).

Included in the workshop sessions on Saturday and Sunday are 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.

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.

 

Former Illinois Chapter President Joe Spencer wins Coach Wooden Citizen Cup Award


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Former Illini football center and Illinois Chapter of Uplifting Athletes President Joe Spencer recently won the 2017 Coach Wooden Citizen Cup Award given to the most outstanding role model among athletes.

Athletes for a Better World announced Spencer as its winner from among the four finalists Tuesday evening in Atlanta.

The award, named after famed UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden, is given to one college, professional and high school athlete (or athletic figure) per year for character and leadership both on and off the field and for contributions to sport and society. Athletes for a Better World presented the Wooden Cup for the 13th year.

Recipients of the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup are determined by the Wooden Cup Selection Committee after reviewing voting by the Board of Directors and over 100 distinguished individuals involved in athletics across the country.

Spencer’s work in the community and the classroom has been incredible during his four years in Champaign. The 2016 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees’ long list of community involvement includes serving as president of Illinois’ Uplifting Athletes Chapter, president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, raising nearly $40,000 for charity in two years by organizing the Illinois Chapter Lift for Life, helping organize Illinois’ student-athlete variety show that has raised over $80,000 in the last five years, being a “Big” at the local Big Brothers Big Sisters, spearheading the Leadership Summit for local middle school students, volunteering at the Special Olympics, and visiting nearly every elementary school in Champaign-Urbana.

Spencer was a team captain for the 2016 Illini football team and earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors by the media. He started 37 games during his Illinois career, including 11 this season. Spencer is enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Illinois after earning a bachelor’s degree in finance in May 2016.

Seven individuals from four Uplifting Athletes Chapters run Pro Day Reps For Rare Diseases campaigns


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For three straight years, members of the Uplifting Athletes chapter network have run campaigns during the NFL Combine to shine a spotlight on the rare disease community.

This year three players ran Reps For Rare Diseases fundraising and awareness campaigns at the NFL Combine.

Not all chapter members with NFL aspirations were extended combine invites, but many participated in their team Pro Day and several ran Reps For Rare Diseases campaigns.

Four schools, Illinois, Maryland, Florida State and Arizona, had individuals volunteer to run Reps For Rare Diseases campaigns during their Pro Day events in March.

All total the Pro Day Reps for Rare Diseases campaigns raised more than $5,000 to support the Uplifting Athletes mission to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

Four players, former chapter president Joe Spencer, Michael Martin, Rob Bain and Ryan Frain, teamed up to run individual campaigns under the Illinois Chapter umbrella.

Rod Johnson represented Florida State, former chapter President Josh Kern carried the flag for Arizona and Roman Braglio stepped up at Maryland.

Thanks to all the fans who supported these seven individuals representing four student-athlete led Uplifting Athletes Chapters on NFL Pro Days across the country.

Quartet of former Fighting Illini running Reps For Rare Diseases campaigns during Illinois Pro Day March 16


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Four former University of Illinois Fighting Illini football players are using the next step toward their NFL dream as an opportunity to give back.

Each is running a Reps For Rare Diseases campaign to support Uplifting Athletes and its mission to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport, empowering medical researchers to find cures.

Former Illinois Chapter President Joe Spencer, defensive end Rob Bain, long snapper Michael Martin and punter Ryan Frain each participated in the Illinois Chapter Lift for Life with their teammates.

Fans and supporters can pledge to any or all four players for each bench press repetition they perform at the Illinois Pro Day on March 16th. Choose your favorite Reps For Rare Diseases player and support the rare disease community by making a pledge today.

All four former Fighting Illini view Uplifting Athletes as an important part of their college experience, and that is why they chose to launch a Reps for Rare Diseases campaign in support of the rare disease community.

Make your pledge now to join Spencer, Bain, Martin and Frain in the fight against rare diseases.

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Illinois Chapter President Joe Spencer named Wooden Citizen Cup Finalist


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Illinois football center Joe Spencer was recently announced as a finalist for the Wooden Citizen Cup, an award given to the most outstanding role model among athletes.

The award, named after famed UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden, is given to one college, professional and high school athlete (or athletic figure) per year for character and leadership both on and off the field and for contributions to sport and society. Athletes for a Better World is presenting the Wooden Cup for the 13th year.

Spencer’s work in the community and the classroom has been incredible during his four years in Champaign. The 2016 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees’ long list of community involvement includes serving as president of Illinois’ Uplifting Athletes chapter, president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, raising nearly $40,000 for charity in two years by organizing the Illini’s “Lift for Life,” helping organize Illinois’ student-athlete variety show that has raised more than $80,000 in the last five years, being a “Big” at the local Big Brothers Big Sisters, spearheading the Leadership Summit for local middle school students, volunteering at the Special Olympics, and visiting nearly every elementary school in Champaign-Urbana.

Spencer was a team captain for the 2016 Illini football team and earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors by the media. He started 37 games during his Illinois career, including 11 this season. Spencer is enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Illinois after earning a bachelor’s degree in finance in May 2016.

Recipients of the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup are determined by the Wooden Cup Selection Committee after reviewing voting by the Board of Directors and over 100 distinguished individuals involved in athletics across the country.

The 2017 Collegiate Wooden Cup recipient will be announced at an award ceremony in April in Atlanta.

On behalf of the rare disease community Uplifting Athletes serves, thank you Joe Spencer for using your platform as a college football student athlete to inspire others with hope.