32 players from 2019 Uplifting Athletes Reps For Rare Diseases team join the NFL ranks


Earlier this year, Uplifting Athletes partnered with 56 NFL prospects to give them their first opportunity to share their new platform as professional athletes to inspire others with hope and to support the Rare Disease Community.

When the stakes were the highest in their football lives, these NFL prospects made a choice to pledge their performance at either the NFL Combine or their individual NFL Pro Day workouts to raise awareness and funds in support of Uplifting Athletes’ mission.

Of the 56 NFL prospects who participated in the Uplifting Athletes 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign, we are excited to share that 32 were either drafted or signed free agent contracts and are taking that next step, continuing their football career in the NFL.

Quite a feat considering less than 1 percent of high school football players actually go on to sign a professional NFL contract.  For those who climb to the top of the football ladder and take that next  step from NFL prospect to being drafted or signed by an NFL team, they are in rare air.

“Congratulations to each and every one of these men for earning this rare opportunity,” said Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact Brett Brackett, who played in the NFL. “To those that give, much is received. It is fitting that the men who took the time to help those affected by rare diseases at such a pivotal time in their athletic careers get the opportunity to join a rare fraternity of men to sign an NFL contract after college.

“We wish each and every one of you good health, great success and to always help those in need with the platform bestowed upon you.”

Of the 56 players that took part in the 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases campaign this past March, 12 of them were drafted and 20 have signed undrafted free agent contracts.

That group includes a pair of first-round picks in defensive lineman Christian Wilkins from Clemson who was drafted No. 13 overall by the Miami Dolphins and former NC State center Garrett Bradbury who was the No. 18 overall selection by the Minnesota Vikings.

The other 10 draft picks from our 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases team include: Miles Boykin from Notre Dame, taken in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens, and Fighting Irish teammates Julian Love and Drue Tranquill who were taken in the fourth round by the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers, respectively.

Former Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson was taken off the board by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round. A trio of players, Ty Johnson from Maryland to the Detroit Lions, former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley to the Baltimore Ravens and one-time NC State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon to the Washington Redskins, were selected in the sixth round.

Rounding out the 12 draft picks, University of Illinois guard and former Illini Chapter President Nick Allegretti was taken by Kansas City, Nick Scott from Penn State went to the Los Angeles Rams and Syracuse defensive lineman Chris Slayton was picked by the New York Giants. All three were seventh-round selections.

Collectively our 2019 Reps For Rare Diseases team raised nearly $45,000 in support of Uplifting Athletes’ mission and our four programs – Rare Disease Awareness, Rare Disease Research, Uplifting Experiences and Uplifting Leaders.

Congratulations to all the members of our Reps For Rare Diseases squad that earned an opportunity to compete inside the lines at the highest level.

Marist College football program joins Uplifting Athletes team and schedules inaugural Lift For Life event


Uplifting Athletes is pleased to have Marist College join the 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.

Today, the challenges faced by the Rare Disease Community are bigger than any one individual, team or organization can tackle alone. The Marist 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 Marist Football Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its inaugural Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Thursday, May 2nd.

Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Uplifting Athletes nationwide network of chapters.

“Starting an Uplifting Athletes chapter at Marist is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up on. I’ve always wanted to get involved in the community and help those who need it and with Uplifting Athletes I believe that’s possible,” said Red Foxes safety and Marist Chapter founder Paul Olivett. “Using the platform of Uplifting Athletes and the Marist Football team I hope we are able to continue the goal of spreading awareness and support for rare diseases.

“On behalf of Marist and the football team we cannot thank Uplifting Athletes enough and look forward to being apart of the many college teams tackling rare diseases.”

The Marist Chapter Lift For Life is a competition among nine teams comprised of members of the 2019 Red Foxes to see which squad can average the most bench press repetitions during Lift For Life.

Fans and supporters can make a pledge for every bench press repetition a particular team averages during the event. So find your favorite 2019 Marist player and support his team by visiting the Marist Chapter Lift For Life site.

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

Please support the Marist Chapter and help the Red Foxes reach their impressive $3,000 team Lift For Life goal.

Former Illinois Chapter President Nick Allegretti awarded prestigious Big Ten Medal of Honor


September 2 2017 Illinois vs Ball State Football. Home Opener

Former University of Illinois star offensive lineman Nick Allegretti was awarded the prestigious Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor recently as part of the annual Fighting Illini Oskee Awards celebration.

This year marks the 105th anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, awarded annually to one male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each member institution who has demonstrated excellence on and off the field throughout their college career. The conference’s most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence.

Allegretti was a two-time captain and finished his football career with 36 consecutive starts while playing nearly every snap on the offensive line over the last two seasons.

He was graded as the third-best offensive guard in the nation in 2018 by Pro Football Focus, allowing just one QB hit and zero sacks on the season while anchoring an offensive line that paved the way for the nation’s 12th-ranked rushing offense. PFF graded him as the No. 6 run-blocking guard and the No. 11 pass-blocking guard in the nation. 

Off the field, he was the team leader for all community service events throughout his career and served as Illinois’ Uplifting Athletes Chapter President the past two years, raising more than $88,000 to support the Rare Disease Community through the team’s annual Lift for Life event. He has been a candidate for many community services awards, including 2018 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award (Finalist), 2018 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year (semifinalist), 2018 Campbell Trophy (semifinalist) and 2018 Senior CLASS Award candidate. 

Allegretti earned a Bachelor’s degree in accountancy from the Gies College of Business in December 2017 (3.56 cumulative GPA) and will earn a Master’s degree in Recreation, Sport & Tourism in May 2019 (3.49 cumulative GPA). 

“Few student-athletes garner as much respect from their peers and coaches as Nick has over the last five years,” said Fighting Illini head coach Lovie Smith, the Illinois skipper for Allegretti’s final three seasons. “Nick exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete in today’s environment.

“If you are fortunate enough to coach long enough, you might get the chance to coach one or two student-athletes with Nick’s credentials on and off the field. I am grateful to be in the right place at the right time to catch him during his career at the University of Illinois.”

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.”