Five Chapters use annual spring game to raise awareness for Rare Disease Community


There are many ways the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of chapter’s use their platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community.

Shining a spotlight on the more than 30 million Americans affected by rare diseases is part of each chapter’s mission.

Five years ago, the Penn State Chapter started raising awareness by wearing Uplifting Athletes stickers on their helmets and patches on their Nittany Lions jerseys for their annual Blue-White Game.

Over the years, Maryland, Princeton and Stony Brook have each at one time displayed the helmet sticker as part of their spring game to raise awareness.

This spring five teams, Penn State, Lehigh, Davidson, Saint Francis and Syracuse, committed to highlighting the rare disease cause by putting an Uplifting Athletes sticker on its helmets at their respective spring games.

The challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. Our nationwide network of chapters, run by college football student-athletes, take pride in the opportunity to shine a spotlight on rare diseases.

Thank you to the athletic departments at Davidson, Lehigh, Penn State, Saint Francis and Syracuse for supporting their football student-athletes and Uplifting Athletes by allowing their squads to recognize the Rare Disease Community as part of its 2019 spring football game.

Lehigh Chapter announces inaugural Lift For Life to inspire Rare Disease Community set for April 30


Uplifting Athletes is pleased to have Lehigh University join the nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes holding Lift For Life events in 2019.

The Mountain Hawks will hold their inaugural Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Tuesday, April 30 at 4:30 p.m. outside the University Center. The event is open to the public.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Lehigh Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Lehigh is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes by using college football as a platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

“At Lehigh Football we pride ourselves on giving back to the community,” said the Lehigh Chapter leaders. “We are excited to partner with Uplifting Athletes and to help raise awareness and funds for the Rare Disease Community”

The 2019 Lehigh Chapter Lift For Life will be an Offense vs. Defense competition based on the average number of 225-pound bench press repetitions each side of the ball averages.

Fans and supporters can choose your favorite side of the ball and make a pledge for the number of bench press repetitions that team averages. So pick one side of the ball and support them by visiting the Lehigh Chapter Lift For Life site. You can also make a flat donation to any team.

The proceeds from the Lehigh Chapter 2019 Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Today, the challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Lehigh 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 Lehigh University football program became part of the nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes last year. The 2018 Touchdown Pledge Drive was the Mountain Hawks’ first event to support the Rare Disease Community. And earlier this year former Lehigh star running back Dom Bragalone participated in the 2019 Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases campaign.

Please support the Lehigh Chapter and help the 2019 Mountain Hawks reach their impressive $5,000 team Lift For Life goal.

Davidson Chapter announces annual Lift For Life to inspire Rare Disease Community set for April 25


The Davidson Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its second annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Thursday, April 25th.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Davidson Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Davidson is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes by using college football as a platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

“In just a year, it’s been incredible to see the development and growth of our Uplifting Athletes chapter at Davidson College,” Davidson Chapter leaders George Hatalowich and Kevin Stipe said. “Our 2018 Lift for Life was a huge success and it was truly a testament to the players, coaches, and athletic department that bought into the organization and chapter’s goals.

“We are excited to again use our platform in this year’s Lift for Life to raise money and awareness for the Rare Disease Community. I’m extremely proud to be a part of Davidson’s chapter and I can’t thank the Uplifting Athletes organization enough for their continuous support and guidance throughout this entire process.

The 2019 Davidson Chapter Lift For Life will be a competition on the average number of 225-pound bench press competitions among the six fundraising teams. The event is private this year.

Fans and supporters can select any one of the six teams and make a pledge for the number of bench press repetitions that team averages. So find your favorite 2019 Davidson player on any of the six Wildcats’ Lift For Life teams and support them by visiting the Davidson Chapter 2019 fundraising site. You can also make a flat donation to any team.

The proceeds from our 2019 Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Today, the challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Davidson 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.

Uplifting Athletes was pleased to have Davidson College join the nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes in 2018. The Davidson Chapter showed the character of their football program in its first year supporting the Rare Disease Community and earned the Best Newcomer Award for 2018.

Please support the Davidson Chapter and help the 2019 Wildcats reach their impressive $15,000 team Lift For Life goal.

2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign set new standards across the board


During a pivotal time in their football lives, more than 50 NFL prospects used their first opportunities as professional athletes to give back.

The Uplifting Athletes 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases showcased these athletes in a month-long campaign that kicked off in late February with the NFL Combine and ran through March with individual NFL Pro Day workouts.

This year Reps For Rare Diseases set a new standard in terms of the number of athletes participating, the funds raised and awareness generated to shine a spotlight on the Rare Disease Community.

It was an honor to work with 56 outstanding athletes from 21 college football programs across the country.  The 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign produced an overall audience of more than 10 million through social media and online news and raised nearly $45,000 to support the rare disease cause.

“Each one of our 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases participants stands out amongst their peers and really understands the position they are in to make a difference,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact and NFL veteran Brett Brackett said. “It’s refreshing to work with people that, in the midst of the biggest job interview of their lives, will take the time to think about how they can help someone else.

“Many thanks to all of our participants for helping those affected by rare diseases. I’m proud to work for an organization that makes it easy for athletes to use their platform to make a positive impact on the community.”

With the Rare Disease Community on their hearts and driving them to train harder, the 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases team performed at a very high level including a record 14 athletes exceeding their $1,000 fundraising goal.

Ryan Bates, Trace McSorley and Koa Farmer from Penn State, Nick Allegretti of Illinois, Western Michigan’s Jamauri Bogan, Michigan State’s Jon Reschke, Dom Bragalone from Lehigh, Chris Myarick of Temple, Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill, Jake Collins and Blake Hance from Northwestern, Eric Dungey of Syracuse, Georgia Tech’s Will Bryan and Charlie Volker from Princeton all raised more than $1,000 each.

The proceeds from 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

This was the fifth consecutive year Uplifting Athletes empowered NFL prospects with the opportunity to use their platform to raise funds and awareness in support of the Rare Disease Community.

The first Reps For Rare Diseases campaign in 2015 was run by former Penn State and current Detroit Lions tight end Jesse James.

“Uplifting Athletes prides itself in helping athletes realize their potential to make a positive impact on the Rare Disease Community,” Brackett said. “Our Reps for Rare Diseases campaign is another unique example of this.”

Saint Francis Chapter announces annual Lift For Life to inspire the Rare Diseases Community set for April 7


The Saint Francis Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Sunday, April 7th.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Saint Francis Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Saint Francis is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes.

Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes by using college football as a platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport.

“It is an honor to be able to use our platform to help raise awareness and support the Rare Disease Community through Uplifting Athletes,” Saint Francis Chapter President Nick Rinella said. “We are all proud to be part of a team that is working so hard to tackle rare diseases.”

The 2019 Saint Francis Chapter Lift For Life will feature a 225-pound bench press competition between the 2019 Red Flash offense and defense. The event is open to the public and will start at 12:30 p.m. at DeGol Field.

Fans and supporters can select to support either the offense or defense and pledge for the average number of bench press repetitions they put up. So choose one side of the ball and back that team by visiting Saint Francis Chapter Lift For Life page and pledging now! You can also make a flat donation to either team.

The proceeds from the Saint Francis Chapter 2019 Lift For Life support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Today, the challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Saint Francis 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 Saint Francis Chapter started tackling rare diseases in 2012 when it joined Uplifting Athletes. The student-athlete led Saint Francis Chapter serves the rare disease community in honor of the younger brother of former Red Flash wide receiver Jeff Wasilewski.

Please support the Saint Francis Chapter and help the 2019 Red Flash reach their impressive $4,000 team Lift For Life goal.

Rare Disease Community takes over Lincoln Financial Field at 2nd Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft


2019 Young Investigator Draft grant recipients (left to right): Dr. Alberto Japp, Dr. Eugene Hwang, Dr. Shana McCormack, Dr. Elizabeth Harrington, Dr. Brian Sworder and Dr. Brenda Gallie.

Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia experienced a Rare Disease Community takeover Saturday night when Uplifting Athletes hosted its 2nd Young Investigator Draft presented by CSL Behring.

And the spotlight at The Linc – home to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles – was on the six rare disease research grant recipients drafted by our priority partners to become part of the Uplifting Athletes team.

“We could not of been more excited how the event came together, and what an amazing turnout we had for year two of this event,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Rob Long said. “We take pride in our ability to bring together doctors, patients, young investigative researchers, industry partners, rare disease advocates and athletes all together in one room. Each group was well represented.”

Similar to the NFL Draft where teams select the top young prospects they feel can make the most impact on their future, at the Young Investigator Draft, Uplifting Athletes celebrated its 2019 draft class in five different rare disease categories.

The evening started with a social hour that included one-of-a-kind stadium tours of Lincoln Financial Field.

Then it was time to kick off the 2019 Young Investigator Draft and hand out some authentic draft jerseys to research scientists in five rare disease categories: rare cancers, rare autoimmune and immunological disorders, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders and rare muscular and neurological disorders.

The 2019 Young Investigator Draft class includes Dr. Shana McCormack, Dr. Elizabeth Harrington, Dr. Alberto Japp, Dr. Eugene Hwang and Dr. Brian Sworder.

Several of the grant recipients said the process of being drafted was a “first” for them and despite being briefed and told how the evening would unfold they said there were no words that fully prepared them for the energy and excitement the evening created.

Young Investigator Draft grants are intended to inspire collaborative and translational research that will benefit the entire Rare Disease Community. The Young Investigator Draft stage provided each doctor a platform to educate and inspire by sharing their research along with its impact on the Rare Disease Community.

The drafted grant recipients were chosen by this year’s priority partners: Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance, Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Project ALS.

Each priority partner had a guest presenter make the selection. The 2019 list of guest presenters included Kyle Bryant, BethAnn Telford, Dr. David Fajgenbaum, Malik Turner and Adam Breneman.

After draft emcee Stephanie Stahl, a health reporter for media sponsor CBS 3 of Philadelphia, closed the draft it was time for a couple special presentations.

Dr. Brenda Gallie of Children’s Hospital in Toronto received the Uplifting Athletes Young Investigator Draft Collaborative Leadership Award for her decades of commitment to eradicating the rare eye disease retinoblastoma.

She was introduced via video by former USC long snapper and 2016 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award winner Jake Olson, who is legally blind after losing both is eyes to retinoblastoma.

To bring down the curtain on the evening, the 11th winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award, University of Kansas football coach Joshua Eargle, took the stage and delivered a moving and inspirational speech.

Coach Eargle shared the story of his family and their rare disease journey with their daughter Landrey. For nearly six years the Eargle’s stayed quiet about their struggles with the extremely rare diagnosis for Landry.

After sharing their story publicly for the first time in 2019, doors and avenues have opened they never imagined. This has inspired Coach Eargle and his wife Kristen and made them even stronger advocates for the Rare Disease Community.

Uplifting Athletes would like to thank everyone who attended our 2nd Young Investigator Draft and a special thanks to all of our sponsors for making this unique approach to rare disease research possible.

In addition to CSL Behring as our presenting sponsor, Sanofi Genzyme, Horizon, PRA Health Sciences, Retrophin, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Spark Therapeutics, Strongbridge BioPharama, Amicus Therapeutics, We Work For Health (WWFH) and Ultragenyx all contributed to the success of the 2019 Young Investigator Draft.

“It took a lot of teammates who believe in the mission of Uplifting Athletes and have passion for the rare disease cause to make all this happen,” Long said. “The fact that our priority partners joined us in co-funding each grant recipient so that we could direct more than $120,000 directly to the young investigator rare disease researchers to be used at their discretion to support their research is a game changer.”

44 NFL prospects join 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign for NFL Pro Day workouts


For the fifth consecutive year, Uplifting Athletes is empowering NFL prospects with the opportunity to use their NFL Pro Day as a platform to give back by raising funds and awareness in support of the Rare Disease Community.

The Reps For Rare Diseases Campaign is one of the first opportunities for these athletes to create an impact using their platform as professional athletes. Uplifting Athletes is excited to work with these outstanding individuals to help them give back during this very pivotal time of their lives.

This year Uplifting Athletes currently has 44 players who chose to participate in Reps For Rare Diseases 2019 as part of their NFL Pro Day workout.

“We would like to thank all the athletes participating in Reps For Rare Diseases and wish all of our participants the best of luck in the pursuit of their professional careers,” Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact and NFL veteran Brett Brackett said. “We believe this is a special group that stands out for the right reasons amongst their peers. Any NFL team would be lucky to have one of these men representing their organization.”

The Uplifting Athletes 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases Pro Day Team is comprised from 18 different college football programs.

Clayton Thorson, Flynn Nagel, Jake Collins, Blake Hance, Jordan Thompson, Jared McGee and Tommy Doles all hail from Northwestern. Representing NC State are A.J. Cole, Terronne Prescod, Steph Louis and Reggie Gallaspy, Jr. From Penn State its Koa Farmer, Nick Scott, Kyle Vasey and Jake Cooper. And Tyler Newsome, Miles Boykin, Julian Love, Sam Mustipher, Nic Weishar and Justin Yoon from Notre Dame.

The quartet from Princeton includes John Lovett, Cody Smith, Steve Carlson and Charlie Volker. Maryland has Brendan Moore and Ty Johnson. Representing Georgia Tech are Kyle Cerge-Henderson and Andrew Marshall, while Eric Dungey and Kielan Whitner come from Syracuse.

Alec Eberle and Derrick Kelly II come out of Florida State and Antonio Jackson and Lawrence Menyah played for Fordham.

Other schools representatives include: Nick Allegretti from Illinois, Clemson’s Milan Richard, Chris Myarick of Temple, Jon Reschke from Michigan State, Nick Giorgio of Springfield, Kansas’ Mavin Saunders, Jamauri Bogan of Western Michigan and Craig Reynolds from Kutztown.

Fans and supporters can become teammates of any one of our NFL Pro Day participants this year and help Uplifting Athletes Tackle Rare Diseases by simply making a pledge for every bench press repetition or each vertical/broad jump inch the player achieves.

Visit the Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases 2019 team landing page, choose your favorite player and make your pledge today.

The proceeds from Reps For Rare Diseases support the mission of Uplifting Athletes and its charitable programs: Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

The first Reps For Rare Diseases campaign was run by former Penn State and current Detroit Lions tight end Jesse James.

Since James launched this program in 2015 other current NFL veterans such as Justin Watson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Jason Cabinda (Oakland Raiders), Justin Jackson (San Diego Chargers), Mike McGlinchey (San Francisco 49ers), Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins), Josh Adams (Philadelphia Eagles), Malik Turner (Seattle Seahawks), Grant Haley (New York Giants), Anthony Zettel (Cleveland Browns), Andrew Billings (Cincinnati Bengals), Garrett Sickels (Los Angeles Rams), and Chad Kanoff (Arizona Cardinals) have used Reps For Rare Diseases as a platform to support the Rare Disease Community.

“Uplifting Athletes prides itself in helping athletes realize their potential to make a positive impact on the Rare Disease Community. Our Reps for Rare Diseases campaign is another unique example of this,” Brackett said.