The Rare Disease Champion Award
is given annually to a leader in college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.
Vitals: 6-4, 195-pound freshman long snapper
Rare Disease Connection: Olson was born with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the retina. He lost his left eye when he was 10 months old. Despite numerous procedures on his other eye, he had his right eye removed in 2009 when he was 12 years old. A huge Trojans fan all his life, Olson tried to watch as much USC football as possible before losing his sight in 2009. When former USC coach Pete Carroll learned of Olson’s story he invited him to practices, then went a step further and made him an honorary member of the team. Olson was a long snapper in high school at Orange Lutheran, and earlier this season became an official member of the Trojans team as a long snapper. Olson started a foundation that raises funds to provide blind children with the technology to be academically successful and has authored two books – the most recent in 2013. And he continues to inspire others by sharing his story and through motivational speaking.