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.
College: University of Oklahoma
Rare disease connection: Getting ready for his senior season in Norman, Woods had a unexplained sore throat through spring ball. Then, the glands in his neck got swollen and sore. The immediate thoughts were strep or perhaps mononucleosis. Tests ruled those out. More tests brought the diagnosis that rocked Woods' world — Stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma. Less than two weeks after OU's spring practices ended the 6-4, 293-pound lineman, who has been the Sooners' deep snapper for three seasons and has played on the offensive line, found himself at the Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City undergoing four hours of chemotherapy every other week. Woods learned on Nov. 1 that he was in remission.
In his own words: “I was going to do whatever I could to beat this thing. My parents taught me attitude is the one thing I can control. I showed with a positive attitude, I could overcome anything.”