2013 NFL Draft Recap


2013 NFL Draft RECAP:

Very proud to say that the 2012 Rare Disease Champion and eight other Uplifting Athletes were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.  More are expected to sign as free agents this week.  Here is a summary from the NFL.com Draft Tracker:

2nd Round:

6(38) Chargers (From Cardinals) Te’o, Manti ILB 6’1″ 241 Notre Dame
19(51) Redskins Amerson, David CB 6’1″ 205 N.C. State

3rd Round:

11(73) Buccaneers Glennon, Mike QB 6’7″ 225 N.C. State
25(87) Seahawks Hill, Jordan DT 6’1″ 303 Penn St.

4th Round:

23(120) Vikings Hodges, Gerald OLB 6’1″ 243 Penn St.

6th Round:

18(186) Steelers Brown, Justin WR 6’3″ 209 Oklahoma
22(190) Bengals Burkhead, Rex RB 5’10” 214 Nebraska

7th Round:

7(213) Vikings (From Cardinals) Mauti, Michael ILB 6’2″ 243 Penn St.
18(224) Packers (From Cowboys through Dolphins) Dorsey, Kevin WR 6’3″ 210 Maryland

 

These student-athletes join 35 additional Uplifting Athletes “Lettermen” currently in the NFL who have either held  leadership positions or raised money for rare disease research through their university chapter.

Here is a quick breakdown: Boston College (5), Colgate (1), Maryland (2), NC State (1), Northwestern (2), Ohio State (5), Penn State (17) and Wisconsin (2).

There are hundreds more who have embarked on fulfilling careers outside of the NFL, too.  Uplifting Athletes has raised over $1.5 million to support rare disease research.

We are very lucky to work with so many talented yet selfless young men in the fight against rare diseases. Together…We Are…Stronger!

Please visit www.upliftingathletes.org to learn more and join our team!

2012 Rare Disease Champion Rex Burkhead

2012 Rare Disease Champion Rex Burkhead

More behind the story of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award


In the beginning we had to search for stories. Now the stories are finding us. What a difference a half-decade makes.

With voting for the 2013 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion entering the final week, I am reminded of how far this campaign has come in only its fifth year of existence.

Seven finalists, our largest number ever, and each with an inspirational story that has a direct tie to the rare disease community. That’s one of the main reasons I feel this is such a great campaign because we learn of these unheard inspiring stories and share them with our community.

2012 RDC Champion Rex Burkhead from Nebraska with Jack Hoffman and Scott Shirley.

2012 RDC Champion Rex Burkhead from Nebraska with Jack Hoffman and Scott Shirley.

New York Giants and former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich was the inspiration for this award. His triumph over Ewing’s sarcoma was very main stream and touched a lot of people.

But there were details to his experience that really weren’t understood publicly. Mark didn’t just have cancer – and that’s the public perception. Mark had a rare disease.

And the inspiration for the Rare Disease Champion came from the fact that Mark accepted the responsibility of helping us educate as many people as possible about the unique challenges of having a rare disease.

As we build on five years of honoring some talented and inspiring individuals in the world of college football that are either affected or touched by a rare disease, I think it’s important that these stories are told in the proper context.

By that I mean it’s important people understand these stories are about the fight against a rare disease. Whether the individual story is known or unknown, it’s important to create a national conversation about something that could, statistically speaking, possibly be an epidemic.

And to me, that’s the beauty of this campaign. It really does marry rare disease and college football. This award has inspired patients with rare diseases and college football leaders to come forward and tell their story in a way that will create hope for those follow the same path after them.

The excitement this campaign has been able to generate we’ve seen grown year after year. And the relationship we develop with the finalists each year is very uplifting.

For example, the second year of the award we saw a quarterback from a Division III school, who had raised nearly $100,000 in memory of his departed friend after he lost his battle with a rare disease, win the award.

Ian Mitchell rallied the alumni from his school to vote him the champion over candidates from much bigger Division I programs. In fact, the other finalists that year started a campaign for him to win because they were all so moved by his story.

One of the other finalists campaigning for Mitchell was Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway.  Eventually Holloway lost his battle with a rare disease and passed away. That helps put in perspective that sometimes the finalists are fighting for more than a trophy. Some of them are fighting for their life, and it reminds me there is still a lot of work for us to do.

Each year we strive to take another step forward in the RDC campaign, and in 2013 I think that step is presenting our trophy at Maxwell Football Club dinner on a big stage under bright lights. We’ve created a partnership with the Maxwell Club that creates a platform for them to tell their story to a new audience, and in turn we gained a platform to tell ours.

Each year I feel this award is helping us not only build a better community, but a stronger team that is fighting against or playing against the same opponent.

TOGETHER … WE ARE … STRONGER!

Scott Shirley

Executive Director

Beyond The Trophy – Week 11


Each week we will feature a college football player who is either a member or an officer in a Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Quentin Williams

College: Northwestern University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-6, 255 pounds, senior, defensive lineman

High School: Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

About Quentin Williams: A highly decorated tight end coming out of Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Williams has transformed himself into a versatile defensive lineman for the Wildcats. He started the final seven games of his junior season and has started every game this season at DE for Northwestern. His brother, Nate, was an NU linebacker from 2007-10. Williams, a fifth-year senior, is part of the Uplifting Athletes leadership team for the Northwestern Chapter.

As a player, what is your favorite part of game day you get to experience at your home stadium?

Williams: I absolutely love “Walk With Us,” a tradition that Northwestern has involving anyone who wants to fill the crowd while we walk from our bus to the locker room before the game. When I step off the bus, the first thing I get to see is a huge group of passionate fans and family members of our players. Followed by that is our cheerleading squad and our band. The band is absolutely the best, as they create two long lines of instruments that we walk directly through – hearing every single instrument group independently as we walk by. We walk between these two lines of NU marching band members and the best part is the end, where we pass by the loud brass horns and the drum line. It absolutely wakes you up and gets you ready for Big Ten Football.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

Williams: My most memorable experience would have to be playing alongside my big brother, Nate, for two years while he was our middle linebacker. I came to Northwestern for a plethora of reasons, but being with my brother on a Division-1 football field for the Wildcats was the most rewarding thus far.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what if anything has this experience done for you?

Williams: When I first heard about Uplifting Athletes, I immediately was interested. Al Netter sent out an email to the team letting us know that Scott Shirley would be coming by to talk about starting a chapter here at NU. I jumped at the opportunity, only to show up at the first ever meeting a few minutes late. I joined the cause because I have always believed in giving back. I just wanted to be a part of something philanthropic and groundbreaking. I love the idea of starting from scratch and growing an idea or concept into a bigger, better thing. My involvement grew the following year and I became the CMO for UA at Northwestern. I’ve learned a great deal about learning how to delegate responsibilities meaningfully and trustfully. I’ve learned, most of all, that most things cannot be done alone and your associates are your biggest asset. I’ve learned how to market and manage a business.

Facebook, Twitter or neither and why?

Williams: I am not a big social media user myself. I use Twitter occasionally to follow influential people’s thoughts, but spend more time on Facebook. As the marketing director, I’ve found out how much I really don’t enjoy being at the heart of a social media platform. I would much rather be involved in person-to-person interactions without the computer or iPhone getting in the way.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play and what makes them so difficult?

Williams: Every Big Ten opponent is difficult. And that is what I came to Northwestern – to play against the best. I cannot put a stamp on any one program, but would have to say that my favorite team to play would either be Penn State or Iowa.

What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?

Williams: I was a political science major and business institutions minor during undergrad. I am currently a grad student in the sports administration program at NU. I think I have been able to apply many of the marketing lessons I learned in my two marketing classes, both taught here by Joan Zielinsky. I’ve always been interested in start-ups and would say that a lot more of my useful lessons came from my experiences at my two internships at start-up companies: FanFueled and Position-Tech.

Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?

Williams: I was a high school teammate of Andrew Taglianetti of the University of Pittsburgh. He’s a safety for them and I’ve always been a huge fan of his play. He uses great effort and makes great plays in the kicking game especially. Shout out to ‘Tags.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

Williams: I like watching Clay Matthews purely because of his tenacity and his unique position. He uses his hands extremely well and if I make it to the next level I’d be blessed to play like him at his position.

What was or is the inspiration for the Rare Disease your Uplifting Athletes Chapter is raising money for to be part of the fight?

Williams: Ara Parseghian coached here at Northwestern before leaving for Notre Dame. He spoke to us as an honorary captain a couple of years ago and became a motivating factor in deciding what rare disease to help fight. His family is severely affected by niemann-pick type C and he has his own foundation. It was only fitting to choose Coach Parseghian’s family and foundation to support.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?


Penn State, since I get to see a lot of my family and friends when playing there.

Patriot League Championship Within Reach


I hope you are as excited about tomorrow as we are. Once again, your Colgate Raiders have made it to the Patriot League Championship game. It’s been four long years since Colgate has won the league title and Coach Biddle constantly reminds the team that none of us have a ring. With that said, we are starving for a ring.
Heading into tomorrow’s contest at Lehigh, your Raiders are coming off of a record-breaking 65-41 win versus Lafayette. We compiled a league record 747 yards of total offense. Quarterback, Gavin McCarney, rushed for 288 yards on 19 carries which is also a league and school record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Runningback, Jordan McCord, also broke the 200-yard rushing mark (203) and added four touchdowns as we rolled over the Leopards.
The nationally ranked Lehigh Mountainhawks 5/8 will pose much more of a challenge tomorrow afternoon. Lehigh is 9-0 on the year and has won 18 straight Patriot League games. Their record does not reflect the caliber of their ball club. The games they have won this year have all come down to the wire. We have not changed a thing on offense and we will continue to do what we do tomorrow. Defensively, we plan to heat up Lehigh’s senior quarterback, Mike Colvin, so we can keep the ball out of All-American wide receiver, Ryan Spadola’s hands.
In my two years playing for Colgate I have not seen the guys or the coaches this excited and confident for a game before. Although,  the winner of tomorrow’s game will be crowned champion of the league, it is just another game. No matter what the circumstances may be, we would have had to play Lehigh on November 10th regardless. Tomorrow is just another game and that’s how we are treating it. We are going to come out and play Colgate football for four quarters tomorrow. Coach Biddle always tells us, “The only team that can beat Colgate is Colgate.”
We are excited to represent everything Colgate stands for in tomorrow’s championship contest. I hope we can give you something to celebrate this weekend. Let’s go ‘gate! G.A.T.A!!!!!!

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James DeCicco is a sophomore at Colgate University and plays quarterback for the Colgate Raiders football team. He is a member for the Colgate chapter of Uplifting Athletes and a member of the Student Athletes Advisory Committee (SAAC).

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Beyond The Trophy – Week 9


Each week we will feature a college football player who is either a member or an officer in a Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Tyler Purvis

College: North Carolina State University

Height, weight, class, position: 6-3, 240 pounds, junior, fullback

High School: Lancaster Catholic HS, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

About Tyler Purvis: A former walk-on for the Wolfpack, Purvis played wide receiver in high school but has transformed himself into a pass catching fullback. He also worked as a tight end during his redshirt freshman year in 2010. Last year he had five catches including a pair of touchdown grabs against Georgia Tech. Purvis is an officer in the NC State Uplifting Athletes Chapter.

As a player, what is your favorite part of game day you get to experience at your home stadium?

Purvis: My favorite part of the game day experience at Carter Finley would have to be running out of the tunnel. The smoke starts blowing in your face so you can’t see anything and then once you clear the smoke, you’re greeted by fireworks and 60,000 screaming fans. It is an awesome experience and gets you revved up for the game.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

Purvis: My most memorable experience as a college football player would have to be when we played Georgia Tech last season. I was a redshirt freshman and second-string fullback at the time when the first string guy went down. I ended up playing the entire second half and ended with four catches, two of them being for touchdowns. I never thought playing fullback I would ever have two touchdowns in one game.

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what if anything has this experience done for you?

Purvis: I got involved in Uplifting Athletes mainly because one of my roommates was the one who started the chapter here at NC State. I saw some of the activities he was doing and the difference that he was making and I wanted to be a part of something bigger than just Division 1 football. I know that I am very blessed to be in the position that I am currently in here at NC State and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that have been given to me to give back to those affected by rare diseases.

Facebook, Twitter or neither and why?

Purvis: I would have to go with Facebook only because I don’t have a Twitter and don’t really know much about it. I do use Facebook to keep in touch with all my friends and to see how everyone from back home is doing.

What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play and what makes them so difficult?

Purvis: The toughest team that I have played is definitely Florida State. Everyone single one of their players is super fast and super athletic. They fly around and swarm to the ball.

What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?

Purvis: I am majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing. With NC State being a new chapter, we had never done a Lift For Life event. This past year was our first time organizing a lift and I used the skills I learned about marketing and advertising to spread the word about the event to try to raise money and awareness.

Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?

Purvis: I personally like watching the Oregon Ducks running back De’Anthony Thomas play. I have never seen someone so explosive on the field. He has the ability to make a game changing play every time he touches the ball.

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

Purvis: I would have to say that my favorite NFL player is Peyton Manning. He is one of the smartest football players I have ever seen play the game and he is an excellent leader.

What was or is the inspiration for the Rare Disease your Uplifting Athletes Chapter is raising money for to be part of the fight?

Purvis: NC State’s rare disease is Leukemia. We chose this disease because our Offensive Coordinator, Dana Bible, was diagnosed with it a few years ago. He is currently in remission and is an inspiration to all of us to always keep fighting.

What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?

Purvis: My favorite road stadium to play in is probably Clemson. Their fans are so loud and create a great game day environment and I personally like their entrance onto to field with the release of all of the balloons and walking through the crowd to get to the field.

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 BTNLiveBig.com 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.