Rare Disease Champion
Rare Disease Champion

About the 2014 Awards

The Rare Disease Champion Award is given to a leader in college football, individual, or organization, who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.

Read more about the Award below.


About The Trophy

The Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion trophy was sculpted in the likeness of Mark Herzlich by the world renowned artist Brian Hanlon.

Mark was a senior linebacker at Boston College when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in May 2009. After five months of treatment, Mark was deemed cancer-free and returned to the gridiron for his final season as an Eagle in 2010. The following year, Mark signed with the New York Giants and helped them with the Super Bowl.

Brian Hanlon is a classically trained master sculptor and founder of Hanlon Sculpture Studio. With over 300 public and private art pieces since 1987, Hanlon is a nationally-acclaimed artist from Toms River, New Jersey specializing in bronze statues and plazas. He has received national awards and commendations for his liturgical, civic, and athletic works.


To Qualify

  1. Nominee must be a current member of a college football program (student-athlete, coach, trainer, staff member, etc.) from an NCAA Institution (FBS, FCS, DII, or DIII) or a college football organization.
  2. Nominee has a connection to a rare disease: a) is currently surviving one; b) is raising money for a rare disease, or c) is inspired to advocate for others battling a rare disease. A rare disease is defined as one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans
  3. Nominee demonstrates great respect for competitors, school, teammates, coaches, and the game of college football.
  4. Nominee cannot be a previous winner of the award.

Selection Process

Uplifting Athletes collects the stories of the nominees and conducts interviews with the nominees. Stories of selected finalists will be published online at www.upliftingathletes.org during the month of January. The winner will be determined by a public vote online during the month of January. Fans and supporters can cast their vote daily. Announcement of the winner will be made in conjunction with the start of Rare Disease Awareness Month on February 1, 2014.


Winner Presentation

Uplifting Athletes will present the sculpture to the 2014 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion at the Maxwell Football Club National Awards Gala on Friday, March 14, 2014. The Awards presentation will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.

You can buy tickets for the Maxwell Football Club National Awards Gala here.