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.

 

Four FCS Chapters kick off 2017 Lift For Life season with spring events


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Uplifting Athletes kicked off its 2017 Lift For Life season with four FCS Chapters, Penn, Princeton, Saint Francis and Stony Brook, holding events this spring.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters to support the mission of inspiring the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

While all chapters in the Uplifting Athletes network hold a Lift For Life, each event has its own individual stamp.

At Penn, the Lift For Life is part of the annual Iron Quaker event to close out the winter lifting program. The Penn Chapter used this max-out day to create a competition between the offense, defense and special teams.

For the first time ever, the Princeton Chapter event was open to the public. The Tigers held their competitive Lift For Life outside the Frist Campus Center and also used a max-out day to add some competition spice to the event. Princeton used the offense vs. defense model and it came down to the final event, tire flip, to decide the winner.

Saint Francis used its annual Lift For Life as the cornerstone of their event, but the Red Flash added a “Community Day” element for 2017. The Saint Francis Chapter added a 5K run for runners of all ages and a punt, pass and kick for kids. The day was capped off by the annual Lift For Life.

To finish off the FCS Chapter run this spring, Stony Brook was forced inside for the second year in a row. Torrential rain prevented the Seawolves from holding their event in LaValle Stadium, but the competitive nature and spirit of their Lift For Life more than made up for the venue change. The Stony Brook Chapter split into four teams this year, and it was the Blue Team edging the Red Team by three points to claim victory.

The four events combined to raise nearly $25,000 for Uplifting Athletes in support of its commitment to life skills development, patient focused programs and rare disease research.

Thank you to all those that supported the Penn, Princeton, Saint Francis and Stony Brook Lift For Life events in 2017. The summer events schedule for our FBS Chapters is building.

 

Second Penn Chapter Lift For Life exceeds performance goals in the weight room and raises nearly $5,100


penn-lift-for-life-1For the second consecutive year the Penn football team included Uplifting Athletes’ Lift For Life as part of its Iron Quaker – the traditional workout to end the winter workout season.

The Penn Chapter of Uplifting Athletes leadership team devised a bench press competition to drive fundraising for the 2017 Lift For Life.

And all three groups, offense, defense and special teams, exceeded their performance goal.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Uplifting Athletes student-athlete led college football chapter network nationwide. Penn’s event kicked off the 2017 Lift For Life season.

The Penn Chapter raised nearly $5,100 to benefit Uplifting Athletes and its mission to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

As far as the competition went, the Quakers’ offense that came out on top. The offense and defense each had a goal of averaging 300 pounds per man on the bench press max out. By four pounds, 313-309, the offense nudged out the defense. The special teams average 258 pounds per man – eight pounds above its goal.

Moved by former Quakers wide receiver Kaleb Germinaro, who lost his playing career to a rare disease, Dr. David Fajgenbaum, a Castleman’s Disease Researcher who has the disease himself, and Vhito Decapria, a 6-year-old team captain and brain cancer survivor, the Penn Chapter started tackling rare diseases when it joined Uplifting Athletes in 2015.

Thanks to the Penn Chapter for all its hard work to raise funds for Uplifting Athletes in support of rare disease research and patient focused programs.

Together…We Are…Stronger!

 

Penn Chapter Lift For Life event set for March 2


penn-lift-for-life-1The leadership team for the Penn Chapter of Uplifting Athletes is pleased to announce the Quakers will hold their second annual Lift For Life event on Thursday, March 2.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Uplifting Athletes student-athlete led college football chapter network nationwide.

The Lift For Life will take place at the Quakers’ strength and conditioning facility during their annual lifting competition, the Iron Quaker. The competition phase of this event will be comprised of offense, defense and special teams groups going head-to-head during bench press max-out competitions.

Supporters of the Penn Chapter of Uplifting Athletes can pledge based on the average weight in pounds lifted during the bench press max-out competition. You can learn more by visiting the Penn Quakers fundraising page.

Proceeds from the Penn Lift For Life will benefit Uplifting Athletes, which supports rare disease research and patient focused programs.

WATCH PENN CHAPTER 2016 LIFT FOR LIFE VIDEO

Each Uplifting Athletes Chapter has its own unique rare disease inspiration. All Uplifting Athletes Chapters strive to inspire the rare disease community through the power of sport.

Moved by former wide receiver Kaleb Germinaro, who lost his playing career to a rare disease , Dr. David Fajgenbaum, a Castleman’s Disease Researcher who has the disease himself, and Vhito Decapria, a 6-year-old team captain and brain cancer survivor, the Penn Chapter started tackling rare diseases when it joined Uplifting Athletes in 2015.

The 2017 Quakers are pumped to raise awareness and funds in support of rare diseases. And they need your help to do that.

Thanks for joining the Penn Chapter and Uplifting Athletes as rare disease teammates!

Taking a look back at 2016 for Uplifting Athletes


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In a year of change on many fronts for Uplifting Athletes, taking time to reflect is time well spent.

Our purpose as a national nonprofit remains unaffected. We serve the 30 million Americans that comprise the rare disease community. But our scope and mission underwent a natural evolution to kick off the year.

We expanded our scope of support to the larger rare disease community as a whole and settled on five categories of rare disease groups, rare cancers, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders, rare autoimmune disorders and rare muscular disorders.

Our mission has remained the same since 2007, but we overhauled the words to more adequately reflect where we want to go in the future. Uplifting Athletes is a national nonprofit organization that inspires the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

In February we crowned our eighth Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion. And we celebrated USC long snapper Jake Olson and his amazing rare disease story at the annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala in March.

Our annual Gridiron Gala was also in March, and for the first time we put the focus of our annual fundraising event squarely on rare disease patients and their families. It was a celebration of battling, and in some cases overcoming, the challenges of a rare disease journey.

In May we welcomed a record 30-plus leaders in college football to Northwestern University for our annual Chapter Leadership Conference. The weekend painted a promising picture for the future of our nationwide network of student-athlete led chapters.

Over the course of the late spring and into the summer, 19 chapters ran a Lift For Life event. This is the signature fundraising and rare disease awareness event, but trust us when we say no two events are the same.

Penn used its annual Iron Quaker lifting competition to hold its Lift For Life, Notre Dame holds a bowling event to engage the community, at Arizona it’s a kids clinic and Nebraska holds an annual 5K/Fun Run as its signature event.

Clemson, Georgia Tech, Washington and Northern Arizona each held their inaugural Lift For Life events in 2016. And the charter chapter of Uplifting Athletes, Penn State, held its 14th annual Lift For Life.

The funds that are raised from these annual Lift For Life events supports rare disease research and patient focused programs. And this fall, Uplifting Athletes allotted research funds to support translational research being done at UPMC in Pittsburgh, Fox Chase in Philadelphia and Penn.

August was a month of more transition for the organization. Former Chapter Manager Becky Mayes left after nearly four years with Uplifting Athletes and Director of Marketing Mark Mihalik took a similar position with PledgeIt.

Those departures provided Uplifting Athletes the opportunity to hire Rob Long as the Director of Strategic Development and Chapter Liaison. Long is the inspiration behind Syracuse forming a chapter, a former rare disease patient who overcame his rare brain cancer and played college football.

In addition, John Trzeciak was looking for passion and purpose in his journey and as a long-time resident of State College and a Penn State alumnus and fan, he knew about Uplifting Athletes. Trzeciak is a full-time volunteer and mentor with a wealth of knowledge and skills that will help Uplifting Athletes maximize its resources in the future.

At the peak of their football season, 11 members of the Uplifting Athletes Chapter network donated their time and hard work to run Touchdown Pledge Drives.

In its third year of existence, Arizona, Clemson, Colgate, Florida State, Maryland, Penn State, Penn, Princeton, St. Francis, Stony Brook and Syracuse hosted Touchdown Pledge Drive games.

Penn, who shared the Ivy League title with Princeton, ran a campaign that included all of its Ivy games and included the offense, defense and kicking game. Colgate and Princeton each ran offense vs. defense drives. The remaining eight chapters ran a pledge drive based solely on touchdowns.

We are grateful for all the blessings of this past year that allowed us to serve the rare disease community. We are excited for 2017.

Together … We Are … Stronger!

 

Plenty of success on the field in 2016 for Uplifting Athletes Chapters including pair in College Football Playoff and duo sharing Ivy League crown


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The 2016 season was another strong year for Uplifting Athletes Chapter schools on the football field.

Two of the four teams in the College Football Playoff are aligned with Uplifting Athletes. Three programs won a Power 5 FBS Conference Championships, and a pair our FCS schools shared the Ivy League title.

Pac-12 champion Washington and ACC winner Clemson will compete in the College Football Playoff as the Nos. 4 and 2 seeds, respectively.

Penn State joined the Huskies and Tigers in claiming conference bragging rights when the Nittany Lions stormed back to edge Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

The Nittany Lions just missed out on the College Football Playoff, finishing No. 5 overall, but the consolation prize is a trip the Rose Bowl.

Congratulations to the Princeton Tigers and Penn Quakers on winning the Ivy League crown. This was the second consecutive year Penn shared the Ivy title. Princeton last won at least a share of the Ivy League championship was 2013.

Joining Washington, Clemson and Penn State in the college football bowl season are Baylor, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, NC State, Nebraska, Northwestern and South Carolina.

Thank you to all the Uplifting Athletes Chapters for making the rare disease community a priority in 2016.