Weekly Update: Strong start to Touchdown Pledge Drive 2017 with five teams posting victories


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Thank you to Penn State, Northwestern, Princeton, Saint Francis, Syracuse and NC State student-athlete chapter leaders and fans of those programs for supporting the opening week of Touchdown Pledge Drive 2017.

Five of those schools, Penn State, Northwestern, Princeton, Syracuse and NC State, posted Week 3 victories. Only Saint Francis suffered a setback, and that was a narrow 16-14 loss to a strong Towson squad.

The six Week 1 Touchdown Pledge Drive schools combined to score 32 touchdowns with Penn State, Northwestern and NC State all posting seven or more.

Syracuse rebounded from a stinging upset at home last week by overpowering a previously 2-0 Central Michigan squad by 24 points.

Orange QB Eric Dungey rolled up 384 total yards (279 passing, 105 rushing) and three touchdowns. Syracuse led 24-17 at halftime, then outscored the Chippewas 17-0 in the third quarter to pull away.

The initial two weeks of the season had been a struggle for a Northwestern team with high expectations in the Big Ten West. The Wildcats rebounded with a solid offensive performance to overwhelm Bowling Green.

QB Clayton Thorson, RB Justin Jackson and WR Garrett Dickerson all had big games for an offense that pumped out nearly 700 total yards.

Penn State moved back to No. 4 overall in the country after the Nittany Lions used huge games from Heisman Trophy candidates, RB Saquon Barkley and QB Trace McSorley, to steam roll Georgia State. The duo combined for 522 total yards and six touchdowns.

McSorley threw for 309 yards with four touchdowns and ran for another score to earn the Uplifting Athletes Rare Performance Award for Week 3.

For all its offense, the Nittany Lions defense has shown some teeth in their first 12 quarters by allowing only one touchdown and pitching a pair of shutouts.

Meet Northwestern University Chapter President and Wildcats starting guard Tommy Doles in our weekly Beyond The Trophy series.

NC State piled up more than 550 yards of offense against Furman and scored all seven of its touchdowns by the end of third quarter to move the Wolfpack to 2-1 overall.

Wide receiver Stephen Carlson hauled in three touchdown passes from Chad Kanoff to spark Princeton to a solid victory over visiting San Diego to open the Tigers’ 2017 season. The defending Ivy League co-champions threw for more than 350 yards and the defense forced three key turnovers.

Quarterback Joe Carbone tossed three touchdown passes and Stony Brook grinded out nearly 300 yards on the ground in completely dominating Sacred Heart. Three Seawolves, Stacey Bedell, Jordan Gowins and Donald Liotine, each had 65 or more yards on the ground.

UPenn won its wild ’17 season opener at Franklin Field behind 35 second-half points to subdue winless Ohio Dominican. RB Karekin Brooks totaled 142 yards on 10 carries with a pair of touchdowns to spark the Quakers.

The Clemson defense once again announced its presence with authority as the defending National Champions limited ACC foe Louisville to a single touchdown through three quarters to grab a 33-7 lead. New Tigers QB Kelly Bryant threw for 316 yards with one score and added 26 yards on the ground with a pair of end zone trips. WR Ray-Ray McCloud had seven grabs for 115 yards and a TD.

Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush and RB Josh Adams combined to run over Boston College at Chestnut Hill. The Fighting Irish duo teamed up for 436 yards on 39 carries with Wimbish scoring four times.

 

 

 

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

Notre Dame RB Josh Adams Uplifting Athletes Player of the Week


ADAMS NDNotre Dame went old school on Temple in its 2017 opener, piling up more than 400 yards on the ground to help with the transition of a first-year starting quarterback.

The Fighting Irish are talented and deep at the running back position this year. Starter Josh Adams had a monster season debut, galloping 37 yards for a score on his first touch on his way to a 161-yard outing on 19 carries. He also scored a pair of touchdowns.

Adams is the Week 1 Uplifting Athletes Player of the Week in Notre Dame’s 49-16 triumph over Temple.

In addition to Adams’ 161 yards, back-up RB Dexter Williams added 124 yards and one touchdown and starting QB Brandon Wimbush chipped in with 106 yards on the ground. Williams was a finalist for the 2017 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award.

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!

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 brett.brackett@upliftingathletes.org.

 

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.