Notre Dame Chapter announces inaugural Lift For Life to support the rare disease community for July 21

ND LFL 17 TWITTERThe Notre Dame Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its inaugural Lift For Life to support the rare disease community on Friday, July 21st.

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 leadership team of the Notre Dame Chapter has divided the Fighting Irish squad into eight groups to make Lift For Life a competition based on average number of max leg press repetitions for each team.

There is captain for each team, so find your favorite player on a team and make a pledge by visiting the Notre Dame fundraising site.

The proceeds from the Notre Dame Chapter annual Lift For Life supports Uplifting Athletes and its commitment to life skills development, patient focused programs, rare disease awarness 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. Here at Notre Dame we take pride in the opportunity to shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

The Notre Dame Chapter was started in 2012 by former Fighting Irish linebacker Joe Schmidt. We serve the rare disease community in honor of rare disease patient Sam Grewe. Diagnosed with the rare disease osteosarcoma in 2011 as a teenager, Grewe is a huge Fighting Irish fan and we formed a relationship with Sam that inspired us to make rare diseases a priority.

Please support the Notre Dame Chapter and help the Fighting Irish reach their $6,000 team Lift For Life goal.


Notre Dame Chapter Community Bowling Event in support of rare disease community coming up on June 25th

ndbowling17dlsThe Notre Dame Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its Annual Community Bowling Event on Sunday, June 25th.

This will be the fourth consecutive year the Notre Dame Chapter hold this event to support its mission of using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

The Notre Dame Chapter bowling event will run from 10 a.m. until Noon at the Strikes & Spares Event Center in in Mishawaka, Indiana.

Each registrant will hit the lanes for an hour with three other registrants and two Notre Dame players. The cost for registration is $30 and includes personal interaction with the players and unique photo opportunities.

To register, fans can visit the Notre Dame Chapter registration page and sign-up today!

The proceeds from the Notre Dame Chapter Community Bowling Event support Uplifting Athletes and its commitment to life skills development, patient focused programs and rare disease research.

Even if fans don’t want to bowl, they are encouraged to come out and support the Notre Dame Chapter on Sunday, June 25th.

Spaces for this event are limited and registration spots are first come, first served! If you have any questions, please send an email to


Voting to determine 2017 Rare Disease Champion hits the stretch run

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Voting to determine the ninth winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion award has reached the home stretch.

The 2017 winner is decided by a public online vote that runs until midnight on January 31st. You can vote once each day for your favorite finalist.

Each year since 2009, Uplifting Athletes has recognized a leader in college football that realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community as the Rare Disease Champion. USC long snapper Jake Olson was the 2016 winner.

This year the four finalists are: James Conner, Pitt; Michael Hirsch, Michigan; Mitchell Meyers, Iowa State and Dexter Williams, Notre Dame.

Voting to determine the 2017 Rare Disease Champion started on January 9th, and with less than a week remaining Iowa State defensive Meyers is leading the way.

The 2017 Rare Disease Champion will officially be announced on February 1st to kick off Rare Disease Month. And the winner will be formally honored as part of the annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 10th at Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City.

Annual Uplifting Athletes Leadership Retreat sees a record 31 student-athletes attend

UA-Retreat-2016Each spring Uplifting Athletes brings together the student-athlete leaders from our Chapter network across the country for a weekend of training and camaraderie guided by the Uplifting Athletes staff.

This year the eighth annual Leadership Retreat took place in late May at Northwestern University in suburban Chicago and featured a record 31 student-athletes from 17 Uplifting Athletes Chapters.

Student-athletes representing Arizona, Clemson, Colgate, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Northern Arizona, Maryland, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn, Princeton, Penn State, Purdue, St. Francis, Stony Brook, Syracuse, and Washington.

“It was a great retreat, and we all learned a lot,” said Princeton Chapter leader Zachary Kuehm, a junior offensive lineman from New Jersey. “Being at the retreat really opened my eyes even more to the great cause that we all are fighting for.

“And it is truly unique to see so many dedicated athletes band together to fight rare diseases.”

The weekend kicked off with the student-athletes traveling in from all over the country Friday afternoon followed by a getting acquainted dinner with the Uplifting Athletes staff and members of the NCAA Compliance team.

Put through their paces by the four members of the Uplifting Athletes staff, Saturday was an intense day of learning and training on the finer points of being a chapter leader.

The Saturday sessions included an Uplifting Athletes overview from Executive Director and Founder Scott Shirley, chapter event planning with Becky Mayes, communications and how to tell your story with Andy Shay and chapter marketing and social media with Mark Mihalik.

Also included in the Saturday programming was an athletics department overview by Brian Baptiste, a Deputy Director of Athletics at Northwestern. And Uplifting Athletes Letterman Zak Pedersen, who founded the Illinois Chapter, stopped by to share his experience and talked about life after college football.

“The leadership retreat was really an awesome experience,” said Penn Chapter President Sam Tullman. “Not only were there a number of presentations with truly valuable takeaways, but more importantly, there was an air of creativity, collaboration and excitement.

“The connections made to other upstanding individuals are something I cherish, and something I see developing into fruitful relationships.”

Before the student-athletes hit the road Sunday afternoon, Mayes went over the nuts and bolts of running a Touchdown Pledge Drive, an open discussion session on getting teammates involved and wrapped up the weekend with a work session on the path forward and the next steps.

In prior years the annual Leadership Retreat was pretty much limited to the east coast in terms of geography. Last year, Uplifting Athletes held two retreats – in Harrisburg and Chicago.

This was the first time it was a held exclusively in Chicago and getting more than 30 student-athletes leaders all together provided a vehicle for learning and sharing that will ultimately greatly benefit the rare disease community.

“The Leadership Retreat was awesome. Getting to know college football players from all around the country was very special,” said Clemson Chapter President and punter Andy Teasdall. “We are in a unique position as leaders to share our Uplifting Athletes college football story and life experiences about serving and helping those with rare diseases.”


Beyond The Trophy: Michael Deeb, University of Notre Dame

MICHAEL DEEBName: Michael Deeb

College: University of Notre Dame

Height, weight, class, position: 6-2, 242, sophomore, linebacker

High School: American Heritage HS in Plantation, FL

About Michael Deeb: Only in his second year at Notre Dame, the prototype middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense is still working his way up the depth chart. Deeb had other offers coming out of high school including Florida State, Penn State and Ole Miss but chose the Fighting Irish. He became involved with Uplifting Athletes by sharing the same position with Notre Dame Chapter President Joe Schmidt. This season he’s appeared on special teams, but should see more playing time down the stretch. Schmidt, the starting MLB for the Irish, suffering an ankle injury last Saturday that ended his season.

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

DEEB: My favorite part of the game day experience at our home stadium is the final seconds before opening kickoff. The refs blow the whistle, the crowd is going wild, and in that moment there is no where else in the world I’d rather be. No words can describe the feeling!

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what, if anything, has this experience done for you?

DEEB: Joe Schmidt has driven me to get involved with Uplifting Athletes. The experience for me has shown me the ability to make positive influence on the life of others through athletics. I love helping others and by participating in a sport that so many people watch we are able to reach out to a larger group and impact many lives.

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

DEEB: My most memorable experience as a college football player was running out of the tunnel in our home stadium for the first time. Previously, the biggest crowd I had played against was maybe 3,000. A jam-packed 80,000-plus fan-filled stadium screaming for Notre Dame is an experience like no other. My first game freshman year going through that was almost overwhelming, but such a blessing and amazing feeling.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play, and what makes them so difficult?

DEEB: I would say Florida State because it was our most recent game and our first loss unfortunately. FSU is the defending National Champion and a very talented team. I believe what makes them so difficult is their high talent level and athletic ability. Many of the kids on there team are from Florida like me so we grew up playing with and against each other on the field.

Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?

DEEB: I enjoy watching one of my best friends Tyler Carmona play for Navy. We played on the same high school team and have developed a close bond over the years. The Naval Academy plays the game tough and instills core values that we also adhere to at Notre Dame.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

DEEB: I don’t have a favorite player because I don’t know many NFL linebackers personally. Rather, I watch many of the greats and try to apply many of their successful traits to my game. Each linebacker has strengths. I search for that when I watch them play and work on implementing it in my training so I can apply it on the field.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

DEEB: My favorite road stadium thus far was Florida State because the amount of friends and family I was able to have at the game in support. Growing up n Florida many of friends chose to attend college at FSU and it is driving distance from my home so my entire family attended.

In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?

DEEB: After football I want to have built a positive brand in my name. I want to make helping others a constant for my family as long as I live. Whether its staying involved with the game through youth football or in the business world I want to be able to commit myself to helping others always.