Big Ten Network highlights “Uplifting Athletes” inspirational story

BTN Live B1G

As college football players at Penn State we were very aware of our position of social influence. Along with our jerseys we were also given a spotlight. Some athletes despise it, some deflect it and some learn to merely “live with it.” But fortunately, some athletes take this spotlight and turn it into a moment to shine – hoping to make a difference by daring to live B1G.

The Big Ten Network has done a great job telling our story – the story of how my father’s grim diagnosis with a rare disease inspired a group of Penn State football players to start a movement that has transcended any one person, disease or team. This movement has since spread to five other B1G Ten football teams and 15 college football teams in total. Together we have raised nearly 2 million dollars on the fundamental ideas that there are good kids on every team and that collectively they can mobilize their fans toward a cause they are passionate about.

“Success with honor” is a foundation rooted deeply in the Penn State culture that existed long before Damone Jones, Dave Costlow and I ever planned our first “Lift For Life” event. And it’s this foundation which I believe breeds the type of supportive coaches, administration and powerful fan base that encouraged us to run with our vision. Uplifting Athletes exists today because of this culture at Penn State and these positive ripples continue to roll across the college football landscape.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as the Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes is the opportunity to watch student-athletes mature as leaders through their participation in a chapter. After fellow Uplifting Athletes teams battle on the field, I watch the officers seek each other out after the game in a moment of great sportsmanship beyond the final score. I’m also getting to watch new treatments for rare diseases develop and come to market. Uplifting Athletes “lettermen” are graduating law school, business school, med school or taking jobs with Fortune 500 companies. We have now enough “alumni” playing in the NFL to field two full rosters.

Uplifting Athletes was never about one person, one team or one disease. It’s about each of us learning to leverage the position we’re in each in to make a positive and lasting impact. As student athletes we’re given a spotlight and Uplifting Athletes was created on the idea that this spotlight has the power to draw focus on the rare disease community and the inspiring efforts of students across the nation. That’s how we LiveB1G.

Together…We Are…Stronger!

Click here to view this story in its original format on the website!

Scott Shirley hopes Uplifting Athletes will help Nittany Nation begin healing process

Patriot News writer, Stefanie Loh features Uplifting Athlete’s Executive Director, Scott Shirley in this news article published Tuesday, January 10th:

“Fall 2011 was a difficult time for many Penn State alums, who watched in despair as the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal dominated the nation’s attention and sullied the university’s once pristine reputation. But it was an especially trying time for former Nittany Lions wide receiver and Mechanicsburg native Scott Shirley, the founder and executive director of Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for rare disease research…”

Read the full article here: Scott Shirley hopes Uplifting Athletes will help Nittany Nation begin healing process.

Uplifting Athletes Recaps 2011 and Looks Forward to 2012

Dear Friends of Uplifting Athletes,

I hope that you are enjoying a prosperous start to the New Year. As this is a time for refocusing goals and beginning new endeavors, Uplifting Athletes is also beginning some exciting new projects that we would like to share with you.

This January, we will kick-off our Rare Disease Champion campaign. Now in its 4th year, this special campaign allows us to recognize these true champions that have helped to define Uplifting Athletes and share their inspirational stories with the rest of the world. Also, the planning of our April 20thGridiron Gala” is well underway and it’s going to be amazing!  There are too many details to share in just one blog post, so for now please visit our web site to learn more about what we have in store for this black-tie optional event!

Right now I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank the outstanding people who helped to make 2011 one of Uplifting Athlete’s best.

College Kick-Off Challenge

Uplifting Athletes has been busy since your last newsletter.  First, our annual College Kick-off Challenge raised over $17,000 in September!  This campaign was highlighted by tailgates hosted by Don Farinelli, Members 1st FCU, Harrisburg Senators Baseball and Pavone Advertising.  AmeriChoice FCU, Lower Dauphin School District, Penn Credit and LeadingAge PA all organized a college football themed dress down day to raise money and awareness for rare diseases.

Don Farinelli's Corn Hole Tournment helped to raise over $10,000 for rare disease resesarch!

Chapter Leaders

Our chapter leaders have been busy, too.  The Penn State chapter held their annual VIP luncheon after their game against Iowa.  They also participated in a “trashcan football” competition to engage fans outside of the stadium before their game against Nebraska to raise money for kidney cancer research.  NC State created a “Penny Wars” contest on campus between their dining halls and a “Gate Take” during their game against Central Michigan to raise money for leukemia research.   Al Netter was recognized for his participation in Uplifting Athletes at Northwestern by his selection to the prestigious “Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.”  Last, but not least, Colgate‘s chapter of Uplifting Athletes presented a check during halftime of their game against Fordham for Ependymoma research in honor of Coach Vogt.

Brett Brackett accepts a check from Colgate on behalf of Uplifting Athletes

Team UA

Team UA runners participated in the Chicago Marathon, Hershey Half and Tri-State Tough Mudder, raising a total of $4,850!  This is a campaign that anyone can do in honor or memory of a loved one.  Read their motivational stories here.  Nick & Kara Fox and Drew & Christina Praster also included Uplifting Athletes in their big day by making a donation in lieu of traditional wedding favors.

Our Team UA "Tough Mudders" helped to raise over $4,850 for rare disease research!

Thanks again to everyone who helped make 2011 a great year!  Now at the beginning of 2012, I encourage you to take this New Year and new start as an opportunity to connect with us in new ways. Find us on social media (Facebook & Twitter), talk to a friend about our organization and get personally involved in the fight against rare diseases.  We have a long way to go, but there are a lot of opportunities on the horizon.

Together…We Are…Stronger!

Scott Shirley, Executive Director