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


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

 

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


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Fifth annual Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes Road Race to support rare disease community with a 5K and 1-mile fun run set for July 16th


NEBRASKA RR 17 GRAPHICThe 5th annual Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes Road Race is scheduled for Sunday, July 16 outside of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Sponsored by the Lincoln Track Club, the Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes Road Race will kick off at 8 a.m. CST and feature both a 5K and 1-mile Fun Run.

Online registration will be open until Tuesday, July 11th at midnight CST. Anyone who would like to sign up after midnight CST on Tuesday, July 11th can sign up at the Lincoln Running Company for a $40 late registration fee for the 5K and $30 for the 1-Mile Fun Run.

You may sign up at the Lincoln Running Company up until 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 15th. We cannot guarantee shirt sizes for anyone who registers late.

Runners can also sign up on race day for a $40 registration fee for the 5K and $40 for the 1-Mile Fun Run at the check-in table located near the start/finish line, but you will not be listed in the results due to chip timing.

Huskers fans can participate in either race as individual’s, join a team or create your own team. To register and support the Nebraska Chapter of Uplifting Athletes visit the official road race registration site.

Proceeds from the Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes Road Race will benefit the Nebraska Chapter of Uplifting Athletes and its efforts to make a difference in the rare disease community.

The Fun Run will start at 8 a.m. CST, followed by the 5K at approximately 8:30 a.m. The start of each race will be at the Stadium Drive loop just outside the 501 Building on University of Nebraska-Lincoln city campus.

The Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes Road Race is the signature fundraising event for the student-athlete led Nebraska Chapter in support of its mission to use the platform of college football to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

Nebraska football started tackling rare diseases in 2012 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led Nebraska Chapter serves the rare disease community in honor of a relationship between pediatric brain cancer patient Jack Hoffman and former Huskers and current Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead.

This friendship led to Burkhead winning the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award in 2012 and Nebraska forming an Uplifting Athletes Chapter.

In 2013 Hoffman’s 69-yard run at the Nebraska spring game became a national story that went viral and allowed the Hoffman family to shine a light on rare diseases that included winning an ESPY Award and a visit with President Barack Obama in the White House Oval Office.

The first 500 registrants will also be invited to watch an exclusive pre-season Nebraska Football scrimmage in Memorial Stadium which will take place in August, providing registrants a preview of the 2017 Huskers just weeks before the season opener.

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


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

Clemson Tigers highlight Uplifting Athletes Chapter bowl season by winning National Championship


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Clemson became the second university with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter to win the college football National Championship with its dramatic victory over defending champion Alabama.

Florida State won the final BCS National Championship in 2014 to cap a perfect 14-0 season.

Two of the last four champions of college football, Clemson and Florida State, are part of Uplifting Athletes student-athlete chapter network.

The Clemson Chapter held its inaugural Lift For Life event this past summer and also held a Touchdown Pledge Drive for the Syracuse game this season in support of the rare disease community.

Congratulations to the Tigers on winning their first National Championship since 1981 and thanks to Clemson Chapter President and punter Andy Teasdall for all his hard work in making 2016 a success on and off the field.

Big Ten champion Penn State and Pac-12 winner Washington each finished its respective seasons with losses, but that won’t diminish the huge strides forward each program made nationally.

The Huskies fell to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal and the Nittany Lions were part of a thrilling and record setting Rose Bowl game won by USC.

Clemson climbed the highest mountain in college football by winning it all, but five other programs with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter ended the 2016 campaign on a high note with a victory in their respective bowl game.

Florida State edged Michigan in the Orange Bowl, Northwestern held off Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl, Georgia Tech nearly doubled up Kentucky in the Taxslayer Bowl, NC State put up 42 points on Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl and Baylor snapped its losing streak by rolling Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.

Maryland, Nebraska and South Carolina were also part of the 2016 bowl slate but came up just short.