USC long snapper Jake Olson wins 2016 Rare Disease Champion award

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Andy Shay

USC long snapper Jake Olson is the eighth winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion award.

Olson earned more votes than any of the other five 2016 finalists in a public online vote that lasted 16 days and saw more than 13,000 total votes cast.

The Trojans’ freshman outlasted a field of finalists that included: Penn student-athlete coach Kaleb Germinaro, Iowa State defensive end Mitchell Meyers, UCLA cornerback Marcus Rios, Liberty linebacker Zachary Schreiber and West Virginia running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider.

The Rare Disease Champion Award is presented annually by Uplifting Athletes to a leader in the world of college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.

Olson will be presented the 2016 Rare Disease Champion trophy at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 11th at The Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City.

Olson was born with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eyes. He lost his left eye when he was 10 months old and despite numerous procedures on his right eye, he lost his sight completely to this rare disease 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.

The loss of his sight never slowed Olson down as he continued to flourish on so many levels. During his final two years of high school, Olson was the varsity long snapper for the football team at Orange Lutheran. And in 2015 he earned a spot on the roster of the team he grew up loving, the USC Trojans.

Previous winners of the award include: American Football Coaches Association Executive Director Grant Teaff (2009); Dickinson College quarterback Ian Mitchell (2010); Princeton running back Jordan Culbreath (2011); Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead (2012); Penn State offensive lineman Eric Shrive (2013), Nebraska fullback C.J. Zimmerer (2014) and Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates (2015).