Our Mission

Our Programs

Leverage public interest to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare diseases

Develops social influencers into leaders that make a positive impact on the rare disease community

Uplifting Leaders

Shares the platform of sport with the rare disease cause and raises it as a national priority

Creates special moments that enrich the lives of rare disease patients and their loved ones

Uplifting Experiences

Our Motivation

1 in 10 Americans will be diagnosed with a Rare Disease

A Rare Disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time.


Approximate number of different rare diseases that collectively affect more than 30 million Americans.

Rare diseases are often chronic, progressive, degenerative and life-threatening.


of rare diseases affect children


of children with a rare disease will not live to see their 5th birthday.

Fundraising Initiatives

Lift For Life

Lift For Life is the original fundraising event that
launched Uplifitng Athletes! The event was
inspired by Don Shirley's battle with a rare
cancer. Now, college football teams across the
country participate in the right-of-passage to
benefit the rare disease community!

$131,933.05 Amount Raised
154 Campaigns
Lift For Life

Touchdown Pledge Drive

Touchdown Pledge Drive brings awareness and helps raise funds while capitalizing on what our students-athletes do best during our most visible time of the year, college football season.

$25,409.68 Amount Raised
15 Teams

UA Ambassadors

The UA Ambassador program empowers individual athletes to support the Rare Disease Community by raising money and awareness with their performance. Opportunities include Reps for Rare Diseases at the NFL Combine and/or Pro Day workouts, the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats campaign, and anything else you can imagine!

$67,188.76 Amount Raised
60 Campaigns
Penn State's Mike Gesicki at the NFL Combine

Team UA

We are inviting athletes from across the country to support our mission by holding a pledge-based event to raise money for Uplifting Athletes. This program is open to all sports and all levels! Simply click create your campaign below to get started and a member of our staff will reach out to you to help make it a success.

$38,287.40 Amount Raised
47 Campaigns

Uplifting Events & Awareness Campaigns

My Cause, My Cleats

Date: Weeks 13-15 2018
Location: NFL Stadiums


Rare Disease Champion

Date: December 6, 2018
Location: College Football Hall of Fame (Atlanta, GA)


Young Investigator Draft

Date: Saturday, March 7, 2020
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.



Reps for Rare Diseases

Date: February-March 2019
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN


Uplifting News

Posted on Friday July 12, 2019
Uplifting Athletes is pleased to have Eastern Illinois University join the nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes. Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes by using college football as a platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport. Today, the challenges faced by the Rare […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Thursday July 11, 2019
The Illinois Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Wednesday, July 24th. Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Illinois Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Illinois is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes. Each […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Wednesday July 10, 2019
The Maryland Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Friday, July 19th. Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Maryland Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Maryland is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes. Each […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Tuesday July 09, 2019
The Colgate Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Friday, July 19th. Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Colgate Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Colgate is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes. Each […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Tuesday July 09, 2019
The Syracuse Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Thursday, July 18th inside Manley Field House starting at 5:00 p.m. The event is open to the public. Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Syracuse Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Syracuse is […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Tuesday July 09, 2019
The NC State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Wednesday, July 19th at 5:00 p.m. inside the Close-King Indoor Facility. The event is open to the public. Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the NC State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday July 08, 2019
The Notre Dame Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Friday, July 19th. Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Notre Dame Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Notre Dame is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday July 08, 2019
The Clemson Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its annual Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community on Monday, July 15th. Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event for the Clemson Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Clemson is a part of Uplifting Athletes’ nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes. Each […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Wednesday July 03, 2019
An important part of the Notre Dame Chapter heritage is the annual bowling event the Fighting Irish started in 2014. This past weekend the Notre Dame Chapter used its event at the Strikes & Spares Event Center in Mishawaka, Indiana to host an Uplifting Experience for rare disease patients, families and caregivers. More than 100 […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Tuesday July 02, 2019
Uplifting Athletes is pleased to have Kent State University join the nationwide network of chapters led by college football student-athletes. Each chapter embraces the mission of Uplifting Athletes by using college football as a platform to inspire the Rare Disease Community with hope through the power of sport. Today, the challenges faced by the Rare […] Continue Reading »

Key Leadership

Chapter Leaders

Thomas RuocchioNC State
Thomas RuocchioNC State

• Redshirted the season at tight end

• Played tight end at local Cardinal Gibbons High School for coach Steven Wright.  Helped team to the NC 4A state playoffs
• Senior Stats: 10 catches for 114 yards.
• Junior Stats: 11 receptions for 93 yards.
• Honors: A 2015 Pac 6 4A all-conference performer, he was also his team’s Offensive MVP and served as a team captain.
• Personal: Member of the National Honor Society and the Leadership Council.
• Major: Management

Luke AschenbrandPrinceton
Luke AschenbrandPrinceton

At Princeton — 2018: developed on the offensive line during Princeton's Ivy championship year and first undefeated season since 1964.

Before Princeton — played multiple positions, including offensive tackle and guard, defensive tackle and end, and fullback … served as team captain … lettered in track & field.
Personal — born Jan. 20, 2000 … son of Bryan Aschenbrand and Tara O'Brien … has a younger brother Brent … enjoys playing chess and ping pong … undecided on course of study at Princeton.

Zach LucasStony Brook
Zach LucasStony Brook

Receptions:    1, at Towson (10/6/18); at SEMO (11/24/18)  
Yards:    15, at Towson (10/6/18)
Long:    15, at Towson (10/6/18)

2018: Played in 11 games at both TE and on special teams...Had a pair of catches for 25 yards...Had his first collegiate reception at Towson (10/6).

2017: Appeared in 11 games on special teams.

2016: Redshirted.

Will SpiersClemson
Will SpiersClemson

Original walk-on … enters 2019 averaging 40.2 yards on 131 punts in 29 career games (all starts).

2018: Averaged 39.7 yards on 64 punts with 19 downed inside the 20 and nine punts of 50 yards or more in 15 games … averaged 33.5 yards on two punts vs. Furman … punted a season-high eight times with three downed inside the 20 at Texas A&M, averaging 40.1 yards per punt … recorded a 32-yarder on his lone punt vs. Georgia Southern … punted three times for an average of 40.7 yards with one downed inside the 20 at Georgia Tech … had three of his four punts downed inside the 20 vs. Syracuse, earning team special teams player of the week honors with an average of 40.3 yards per punt … averaged a season-high 42.3 yards on six punts at Wake Forest … punted four times with a 40.0-yard average, including one punt downed inside the 20, against No. 16 NC State … dropped two of his five punts inside the 20 with a 37.4-yard average at Florida State … punted only once for 44 yards against Louisville … averaged 37.3 yards on six punts at No. 17 Boston College … recorded season highs in punting average (44.6) and 50-yard punts (three) on seven punts vs. Duke … averaged 37.0 yards on two punts vs. South Carolina … averaged 35.9 yards on seven punts against Pitt, including an ACC Championship-record 63-yard punt … averaged 39.8 yards on five punts in the Cotton Bowl vs. No. 3 Notre Dame … averaged 44.3 yards on three punts including a 51-yard punt following Clemson’s opening drive to flip field position against No. 1 Alabama in the National Championship Game.

2017: All-ACC Academic selection … had a 40.6-yard average and 37.7-yard net average on 67 punts in 14 games (14 starts) … had 25 punts inside the 20 against four touchbacks and 12 punts of 50+ yards … had a 49-yard punt against Kent State on Sept. 2 … had a 42.7-yard average on six punts with four punts inside the 20 against No. 13 Auburn on Sept. 9; named team special teams player-of-the-game … had a 51.8-yard average on four punts with three punts inside the 20 at No. 14 Louisville on Sept. 16; named ACC Specialist-of-the-Week; named team co-special teams player-of-the-game … had a 48.2-yard average on six punts against Boston College on Sept. 23 … had a 41.5-yard average on four punts with three inside the 20 and was 1-1 passing for five yards against Wake Forest on Oct. 7 … had a 42.8-yard average on five punts wtih three inside the 20 at Syracuse on Oct. 13 … had a 46-yard punt against The Citadel on Nov. 18 … had a 44.3-yard average on three punts (all inside the 20) at South Carolina on Nov. 25; named team co-special teams player-of-the-game.

2016: Redshirted.

Before Clemson: Lettered at Calhoun Academy as a quarterback and punter.

Personal: Son of former two-sport athlete and Clemson Hall of Famer Bill Spiers, who was starting punter in 1986; Bill returned to Clemson to receive his degree and is the senior special teams assistant with the Tiger football team … majoring in construction sciences and management … born Oct. 24, 1997.

Triston FairchildColgate
Triston FairchildColgate

Colgate Debut: Sept. 23, 2017, vs. Furman
Stats Through End of 2017: Five rushing attempts for 14 yards.

2017 Gordon Watson Scout Team Player of the Year (Offense)

2017 (Sophomore)
Games/Starts: 2/0
Position: TB
Stats: Five rushing attempts for 14 yards.
Best Games: Saw action in games against Furman and Fordham ... Carried three times for 7 yards against Furman, and two times for 7 yards in the 38-12 victory over Fordham.

2016 (First Year)
Squad member.

Before Colgate
Papillion-La Vista High School ... Two-year letterman and senior-year captain.
Position: TB/LB/SS
Stats: As senior, compiled 1,443 yards of total offense and 17 touchdowns ... For career, totaled 3,105 yards and 39 TDs ... Set program career records with 234 points, 39 TDs, 557 rushing attempts and 3,005 rushing yards ... Tied longest run from scrimmage of 85 yards and set game record with 43 rushing attempts ... Top 3 in program records book in seven other categories.
Honors: 2015 All-State First Team, Super State First Team, All-Metro Second Team and USA Today All-Nebraska at running back ... In 2014, earned All-State honorable mention, All-Metro honorable mention ... Twice named Class A All-In the Game Team and All-Conference Second Team.
Get to Know: Also lettered in track and field and played basketball ... Class officer and member of Journalism Club, DECA, T Club.

Born: Triston Chase Fairchild in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Family: Parents are Keith and Connie Fairchild … Has one sister ... Nephew of former NFL cornerback Ray Crockett, who starred on two Super Bowl-winning teams with Denver Broncos to highlight 14-year career.

George HatalowichDavidson
George HatalowichDavidson

2017: Named a Pioneer Football League All-Conference honorable mention • Named to the PFL Academic Honor Roll • Started in 9-of-11 games played • Registered 73 tackles, 36 solo and 7.0 for loss with an interception • Made a season-high 12 tackles, 2.5 for loss, at Stetson (10/14) • Posted 8 stops against both Dayton (10/21) and at Morehead State (11/18) • Had 7 stops apiece at Western Carolina (9/9) and against San Diego (11/11) • Had a pick and made 6 tackles, 1.0 for loss, at Drake (10/28) • Made 6 tackles against Marist (9/30) • Had a tackle for loss and 5 total against Brevard (9/2) and Campbell (11/4).

2016: Played in all 11 games with four starting assignments • Recorded 35 tackles, 26 solo and 3.0 for loss • Registered a sack and intercepted a pass • Made a season-high 11 tackles, eight of them solo, against Jacksonville (10/29) • Had five tackles, four solo, at Marist (10/22) • Was in on four tackles at Campbell (11/5) • Notched three solo tackles against Livingstone (9/17) and at San Diego (10/8) • Made a sack and three total tackles at Valparaiso (9/24) • Notched a sack for a loss of 10 yards against Morehead State (11/19).

Prep Years: PA All-State Academic Team • Two-time Mid-Penn Keystone First Team Linebacker • Team Captain • National Honors Society • Falcon Pride Recipient

Bobby WalkerIllinois
Bobby WalkerIllinois

Career Highs

Receptions: 1 vs. Nebraska, 9/29/17
Receiving Yards: 7 vs. Nebraska, 9/29/17
Long Reception: 7 vs. Nebraska, 9/29/17
All-Purpose Yards: 7 vs. Nebraska, 9/29/17

2018 Junior

  • Played all 12 games, primarily on special teams
  • Backup tight end
  • Former walk-on was awarded a scholarship in December 2017

2017 Sophomore

  • Played in all 12 games
  • Played primarily on special teams
  • First career catch against Nebraska

2016 Redshirt Freshman

  • Made Illinois debut in the opener against Murray State

2015 Freshman

  • Redshirted the 2015 season
  • Joined team as walk-on in summer 2015

High School

  • Academic All-Conference, Second-Team All-Area in 2014
  • State runner-up in 2013
  • Coached by former Illini John Holecek (LB, 1991-94)
  • Named Summa Cum Laude


  • Son of Robert and Anne Walker
  • Has one brother and two sisters
  • Born Jan. 16, 1997
  • Cousin, Jackie, plays lacrosse at San Diego State
  • Cousin, Brandon, plays for the Clearwater Threshers, the Philadelphia Phillies High-A affiliate
  • Worked in construction and manual labor during the summer
  • Favorite athletes are Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers because of their work ethic
  • Plans to major in business
Jack MaddoxClemson
Jack MaddoxClemson

Enters 2019 having previously appeared in two games.

2018: Snapped in two games … made collegiate debut vs. NC State and also saw action against Louisville.

2017: Redshirted.

Before Clemson: Lettered at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School.

Personal: Born Oct. 17, 1998 … majoring in political science.

Joe DetorieStony Brook
Joe DetorieStony Brook

2018: Played in all 12 games and started 11 games at center.

2017: Played in and started 10 games at center.

2016: Played in four games on the offensive line...Saw action at Temple (9/10), vs. Sacred Heart (9/24), at Delaware (10/22) and at UNH (10/29).

2015: Redshirted.

High School: A 2015 graduate of Fallston High School ... 2A/1A first team All-Maryland ... Baltimore Sun All-Metro second-team offense ... invited to Big 33 Classic (Maryland vs. Pennsylvania) ... Maryland Crab Bowl All-Star Game ... also played basketball and competes in discus and shot put.

Brock WrightNotre Dame
Drew WhiteNotre Dame
Zaire BarnesWestern Michigan
Sean ChristieMaryland
Sean ChristieMaryland

As a Senior (2018): Started all 12 games at left guard ... helped block for the 17th best rushing offense in the country and third best in the Big Ten, averaging 230.2 yards per game ... blocked for a team that tallied six games with over 200 rushing yards ... helped four different running backs record 100-yard games - most in program history ... contributed to freshman running back Anthony McFarland setting freshmen rushing records of season yards (1,022), single game yards (298) and 100-yard games (four) .. part of line that blocked the way for team to rush for 444 yards at Bowling Green (9/8) - the team’s most since 1999 against Virginia (445).

As a Junior (2017): Started all 12 games at left guard ... helped the Maryland running game eclipse 160 yards/g for the third consecutive season - the longest such streak for the program since 2001-03 ... also protected Maryland's four different starting quarterbacks which threw only eight interceptions - the fewest for the program since 2003 ... helped pave the way for Ty Johnson's 132 rush yards against Texas (9/2) and 124 rush yards against Towson (9/9) back-to-back weeks ... also helped Ty Johnson record 130 rush yards against Minnesota (9/30).

As a Sophomore (2016): Appeared in all 13 games, primarily on special teams.

As a Redshirt Freshman (2015): Did not see game action.

As a Freshman (2014): Redshirt season.

At Patchogue-Medford High School: Played offensive tackle and on the defensive line for the Raiders for three seasons … did not allow a sack during his senior season … was the co-winner of the Zellner Award, which is presented to the best offensive lineman in the county by the Suffolk County Football Coaches Association … a second-team selection on the New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA All-State team … tabbed a first-team selection for the Newsday All-Long Island team … named an all-county and all-league selection … rated a three-star prospect by ESPN … tabbed a two-star recruit by Rivals and Scout … ranked the 14th-best prospect in New York by 247Sports.com … coached by Gary Marangi.

Personal: Born in Stony Brook, N.Y. ... parents are Thomas and Candice Christie ... lists wearing eye black as a game-day superstition.

Peter SnodgrassNorthwestern
Peter SnodgrassNorthwestern

2018: Did not see any action in his redshirt first-year season.

2017: Redshirted his first year on campus.

High School: Team captain every year of his four-year high school career at Palo Alto ... Appeared at linebacker, center and long snapper ... Totaled 58 tackles, 6.5 TFL, five sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries during his senior campaign ... Santa Clara Valley Athletic League Most Outstanding Lineman ... San Jose Mercury News All-Metro Bay Area ... First Team All-SCVAL ... Played two seasons of high school baseball and competed for one season as a thrower on the track & field team ... President’s Gold Award honoree for community service ... National Football Foundation scholarship recipient ... Eagle Scout ... Anticipated major is economics.

Chris SchillingNotre Dame
Chris SchillingNotre Dame


  • Practiced for the Irish but did not participate in games
  • Helped the Notre Dame defensive scout team during game preparation


  • Did not see any game action during the season
  • Helped the Notre Dame defensive scout team during game preparation


  • 2015 First Team All-Eastern Kansas League
  • 2015 Kpreps Class 5A All-Kansas Team
  • Registered 56 tackles, six for loss, three interceptions and 14 PBUs as a senior in 2015
  • 2014 Kpreps Class 5A All-Kansas Team
  • Registered 74.5 tackles, two for loss, five interceptions and 23 PBUs as a junior in 2014
  • Enrolled in the Mendoza College of Business, majoring in finance with a double minor in collaborative innovation and innovation and entrepreneurship
Michael RolfePenn
Michael RolfePenn

Career Accolades: 2016 Ivy League Champion

2017: Appeared in eight games, playing special teams role … Had two tackles at Central Connecticut State (10/7).

2016: Did not see any varsity game action.

Scarsdale: Three-year letterwinner … Served as team captain … 2015 second-team All-State … 2015 first-team All-Hudson Valley … Named to the Journal News Super 11 … Section I State Co-Defensive Back of the Year … Earned first-team All-Section I, All-County, All-Conference, All-League honors … Twice named Most Outstanding Back in Section I All-Star Game … MSG Varsity honorable mention All-Metro … Scarsdale’s MVP … Helped Scarsdale to its first two playoff wins in school history … Had 10 career sacks … Set Scarsdale career touchdowns record with 45 over his career on the offensive side of the ball … 2015 “Golden Dozen” Scholar-Athlete Award recipient … Habitat for Humanity volunteer … Coached youth basketball.

Personal: Son of Diane and Bryan Rolfe … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Sean CliffordPenn State
Sean CliffordPenn State


Game: Connected with Daniel George for a 95-yard touchdown pass against Kent State (9/15/18) for the longest pass play and play from scrimmage in program history...Was the longest pass in program history, breaking the previous record of 92 yards from Bill Hess to Bob Higgins in 1919...Broke the longest play from scrimmage record, which was four different 92-yard efforts - a pass from Bill Hess to Bob Higgins in 1919 and three rushes by Blair Thomas vs. Syracuse in 1986, by Bill Belton vs. Indiana in 2014 and by Saquon Barkley vs. Washington in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl.


Awards: Academic All-Big Ten selection. 

Season: Appeared in four games...One of 40 players to make their Penn State debut...Completed the first five passes of collegiate career for 195 yards.

at Pittsburgh (9/8): Connected with Brandon Polk for a 34-yard touchdown...On first career pass attempt, became the first PSU quarterback to throw for a touchdown on first career completion since Matt McGloin against Minnesota in 2010. Kent State (9/15): Completed all three passes for 117 yards...Connected with Daniel George on a career-long and school-record 95-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter...Pass broke previous record of 92 yards from Bill Hess to Bob Higgins in 1919. at Illinois (9/21): Hooked up with Mac Hippenhammer for a 44-yard completion on only pass attempt. vs. Kentucky (1/1): Attempted two passes.


Redshirt Season.


Four-year letterman for head coach Steve Specht at St. Xavier High School...Two-time team captain...Was the first player in program history to be a two-time team captain...Led the Bombers to the Division I Ohio State Championship with a double overtime win over St. Ignatius as a senior...St. X was the first 5-loss team (10-5) in OHSAA history to win a state title in any division...Guided the Bombers to three consecutive Greater Catholic League South titles in three Seasons as a starting quarterback...Invited to the Under Armour All-American Game and the Army All-American Game...Attended the 2017 Under Armour Game, but was unable to play due to injury...Was a  2016 Elite 11 Finalist...Named Most Accurate Passer at Elite 11 competition...Selected MaxPreps/JJHuddle first-team All-State in 2016...Garnered All-Greater Catholic League accolades as a junior...Earned all-city and all-district first team laurels as a senior...Tabbed Team MVP as a senior...Was 123-for-216 (56.2 percent) for 1,426 yards and nine touchdowns through the air and had 152 rushes for 571 yards and 12 scores as a senior...Accounted for 1,746 passing yards, 225 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns (12 passing, 6 rushing) in 2015...Accumulated 832 passing yards, 314 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns (9 passing, 2 rushing) as a sophomore...Finished career ranked fourth in St. Xavier history with 4,004 career passing yards...Broke the school record for rushing yards (1,110) and rushing touchdowns (20) by a quarterback...Was a consensus four-star prospect by all four recruiting services – 247Sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout...Ranked as the 80th overall prospect by ESPN...Rated as the No. 1 prospect in Ohio, No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the country and No. 4 player in the region by ESPN...Was the 11th-ranked pro-style quarterback and 18th-ranked player in the state of Ohio according to 247Sports...Ranked as the top quarterback in Ohio, No. 2 QB in the Midwest and No. 24 overall quarterback by Scout...Ranked as the No. 161 overall recruit by Rivals, as well as the No. 8 quarterback and No. 5 prospect in Ohio...Lettered in basketball as a freshman and track & field as a junior.


Full name is Sean Burke Clifford...Son of Kelly Burke and John Clifford...Has one younger brother, Liam Clifford...Cousin, Ann White, is currently attending Penn State...Hobbies include youth quarterback training, golf and playing basketball...Intends to major in business with plans to go into sports management...Born July 14, 1998 in Barrington, Illinois.

Chris StollPenn State
Chris StollPenn State


Did not see any game action.


Redshirt Season.


A three-time letterwinner for head coach Ryan Wiggins at St. Francis DeSales High School...Helped the Stallions to a 31-9 record in his career...Two-time Prokicker.com All-America long snapper selection as a junior and senior...Also lettered in lacrosse four times, hockey three times and basketball once...Was a three-time academic all-conference choice for hockey...Named third-team all-state as an attackman for lacrosse as a senior...Earned all-region distinction three times for lacrosse, including first team accolades as a junior and senior.


Full name is Christopher Michael Stoll...Son of Kelly and Ken Stoll...Has one sister, Jordan...Father, Ken, played football at Wittenberg University...Sister, Jordan, participated in track & field at Otterbein University...Hobbies include video games, reading and sleeping...Intends on majoring in kinesiology with plans to become a physical therapist...Born August 3, 1998 in Columbus, Ohio.

Nick Rinella Saint Francis
Nick Rinella Saint Francis

JUNIOR (2018) – ALL-NEC SECOND TEAM AT SAFETY AND RETURN MAN...COSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT...Selected to Phil Steele's Preseason NEC Second Team as a safety and Preseason NEC First Team as a punt returner...Named to the Preseason All-NEC Team...Recorded five tackles, had a sole punt return for eight yards and three kickoff returns for 66 yards against Lehigh (9/1)...Recorded two tackles, three punt returns for 70 yards and a touchdown and three kickoff returns for 83 yards against Delaware State (9/8)...Made three tackles including a tackle for loss and a sack and a kickoff return for 23 yards against Richmond (9/13)...Made six tackles, forced a fumble and returned three kickoffs for 63 yards against Albany (9/22)...Recorded two tackles and returned five punts for 140 yards and a touchdown against WV Wesleyan (9/29)...Collected six tackles and including a tackle for a loss, two pass breakups, three punt returns for 43 yards and three kick returns for 110 yards against Wagner (10/13)...Collected six tackles, returned two punts for 24 yards and one kick return for 30 yards against Duquesne (10/20)...Two carries for 15 yards, made six tackles including one tackle for loss and four punt returns for eight yards against Robert Morris...Ran six times for 60 yards and a touchdown, made ten tackles, a pass breakup and an interception and returned two kickoffs for 94 yards against Bryant (11/3)...Ran for ten yards on two carries, made eight tackles, four punt returns for 10 yards and four kickoff returns for 58 yards against CCSU (11/10)...Posted five tackles, had a pass breakup and returned one punt for zero yards and two kickoff returns for three yards against Sacred Heart (11/17).... Third on the team with 59 tackles and four passes defended as a safety... As a returner, finished fifth in the FCS and tops in the NEC with 825 total return yards...Set a NEC record with 170 return yards against West Virginia Wesleyan including a 79-yard punt return for a TD, the longest in SFU history. 

SOPHOMORE (2017) – Second Team All-NEC as a return specialist... CoSIDA Academic All-District Selection... Appeared in all 11 games, including seven starts… On defense, recorded 51 tackles, 34 solo, two for loss, three interceptions, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery... As a returner, had seven kick returns for 192 yards, 27.4 yards per return with four returns over 30 yards, and 13 punt returns for 161 yards, 12.4 yards per return, and a touchdown with two returns over 30 yards... Made eight stops, including five solo, against Lock Haven… Recorded seven tackles, with five solo, and his first career interception vs. Wagner (9/9)… Had five tackles, including three solo and a tackle for loss, against Towson (9/16)... Made two stops, one solo, and an interception at No. 22 Liberty (9/30)... Set a career-high with eight tackles, five solo, at Presbyterian (10/7)... Had two solo tackles, a pass breakup and an interception, which he returned 20 yards, at Bryant (10/14)... Tied for the team lead with seven tackles and a pass breakup at Duquesne (10/21).  Added two kick returns for 27 yards and a 15-yard punt return... Against Robert Morris (10/28), had three rushes for 61 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown, three punt returns for 69 yards, including a 35-yard score, and an 11-yard fumble recovery to go with two tackles, one solo... Had three tackles, two solo and half a tackle for loss, at CCSU (11/4). Also had 139 all-purpose yards, with three rushing, 99 kick return and 37 punt return. Had a 46-yard kick return and a 30-yard punt return... Assisted on two tackles and added a pass breakup against Sacred Heart (11/11). Had a one-yard run, a nine-yard punt return and two kick returns for 66 yards, including a 35-yard return... At Eastern Kentucky (11/28), collected four tackles, including two solo and half a tackle for loss. Added three punt returns for 24 yards, including a 22-yard return.

FRESHMAN (2016) – Appeared in 11 games this season for Saint Francis, mostly playing on special teams… Totaled 13 tackles, with seven solo, and two forced fumbles… Made a season-best four stops in the win at Sacred Heart, with two solo tackles… Recorded two tackles each against Central Connecticut State and Duquesne, while forcing a fumble against CCSU… Had one tackle each against Montana, Towson, Robert Morris, Wagner and Villanova… Forced a fumble against Robert Morris… Also played against Albany, Malone and Bryant.

BEFORE SFU - Rinella played at La Salle College High School for Head Coach John Steinmetz… Helped the Explorers to a 9-4 record and a state Quarterfinals appearance in class AAAA in 2015… Earned First Team All-State honors as a senior as well as First Team All-Catholic and First Team All-City… Has four career interceptions and three forced fumbles… On the other side of the ball, totaled 2,091 all-purpose yards, including 1,187 rushing and 904 yards receiving.  Scored 32 total touchdowns… Earned the La Salle Career Achievement Award.

Sam HeckelSyracuse
Sam HeckelSyracuse

Career Overview: In a battle with Aaron Roberts for the starting left guard position entering fall camp … Has played both center and guard during his career, starting every game at left guard and playing more than 1,000 snaps in 2017 ... Redshirted in 2016 ... President of the Syracuse University chapter of Uplifting Athletes for the 2018-19 academic year.

Freshman Year (2017): Started all 12 games at left guard ... Team leader in knockdown blocks (41) ... Tied or led the Orange in knockdowns five times ... Played 1,032 snaps, third-most among SU offensive linemen ... Blocked for a Syracuse offense that ranked third in the ACC in total offense (456.3 ypg) and second in passing (294.8 ypg) ... Started his college debut versus Central Connecticut State (9/1) and was credited with two knockdown blocks in 73 snaps ... Led the team with four knockdown blocks in 96 snaps against Middle Tennessee (9/9) ... Paced the front five for the second week in a row with seven knockdowns in 79 snaps against Central Michigan (9/16) ... Played a career-high 102 snaps versus Wake Forest (11/11) and set a personal-best with eight knockdowns, the highest one-game total for an Orange offensive lineman in 2017 ... Against Louisville (11/18), saw the field for all 80 snaps and tied for the team lead with six knockdown blocks. 

2016: Redshirt season ... Member of the travel squad ... ACC Honor Roll selection … Named to the SU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll in both the fall and spring. 

High School: Played offensive tackle and defensive line for head coach Steve Rux at Waukesha West High School … Rated three stars across the board by 247Sports.com, ESPN, Rivals.com and Scout.com … Ranked the No. 2 guard in Wisconsin by Scout.com … No. 48 offensive tackle in the Class of 2016, according to ESPN … Named to the WFCA All-State First Team and the Associated Press All-State First Team in 2015 … Runner-up for the 2015 Joe Thomas Award, presented to the state’s top offensive lineman … Earned All-Classic Eight Conference honors twice, including first-team plaudits as a senior … PrepStar All-Midwest selection … Led the Wolverines to back-to-back WIAA Division 2 state championship game appearances … As a senior defensive lineman, recorded 31 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, two pass deflections and one fumble recovery … Team captain.

Personal: Samuel Steven Heckel … Born in June 1997 in Waukesha, Wis. … Son of Steve and Laura Heckel … One brother, two sisters … Pre-med in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Justin TranquillWestern Michigan
Justin TranquillWestern Michigan

2017 - Sophomore
• Started first two games of the season in secondary, suffered season-ending injury in game two at Michigan State on special teams (9/9)
• Had eight tackles, five solo in season-opener at #4 USC (9/2)

2016 - Redshirt Freshman
• Academic All-MAC selection
• Started all 14 games at safety
• Was second on the team with 89 tackles
• Recorded career-high 12 tackles with a TFL at Ball State (11/1)
• Made 10 tackles at Kent State (11/8)
• Forced first career fumble vs. Eastern Michigan (10/22)
• Had first career tackle for loss vs. Georgia Southern (9/24)
• Recorded two pass breakups, one vs. Illinois and Central Michigan

2015 - Freshman
• Played in four games before redshirting due to injury
• Had two tackles in season opener vs. No. 5 Michigan State
• Had a pass breakup vs. Michigan State and Murray State

High School
• Rated 4-star prospect by Scout.com
• Ranked No. 3 defensive back in the state of Indiana
• Held offers from Power Five Conference programs like Cincinnati, Indiana and Illinois
• Starred on offense and defense at running back and defensive back, racking up over 1,400 yards rushing, 17 tackles, three interceptions and 11 pass breakups during junior season
• Earned MVP Award at Core 6 Showcase in both Cincinnati and Chicago

• Majoring in Sales & Business Marketing
• Born on Dec. 13, 1996 in Montgomery, Ala.
• Son of Tony and Shannon
• Has one older sibling, Drue, a senior football player at Notre Dame, and three younger siblings, Sara Kate, Jack, and       Ethan

Dylan AutenriethNC State
Dylan AutenriethNC State

AS a RS - SOPHOMORE (2018):  
•    Had his first ... and second ... career catch in the win at Louisville.
•    A vital part of the Wolfpack’s run game.
•    Missed the first two games of the season with an injury.  
•    The Pack averaged just 99 rushing yards per game while he was out, 151 when he was back in the lineup.
•    Co-recipient of the team’s Bo Rein Award, given to the player who provides vital contribution in an unsung role.
As a RS - FRESHMAN (2017):  
•    Saw action in every game of the season, he was key to the Pack’s run game, primarily in short yardage and goal line situations.
•    Underwent shoulder surgery and missed 2018 spring practice.
As a FRESHMAN (2016):  
•    Redshirted the season at tight end.
•    Enrolled at NC State in the spring of 2016.
•    Played tight end at North Paulding High School for coach Scott Jones where he helped lead his squad to the Georgia 6A state playoffs.
•    Senior Stats:  41 catches for 407 yards and five scores.
•    Junior Stats: Caught 32 passes for 470 yards and seven touchdowns.
*    Rankings:  No. 55 tight end in the nation by scout.com.  No. 74 player in Georgia by rivals.com.
•    Also played basketball, he averaged 15 points as a junior.
•    Named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll each of the past two years.
•    Major:  Sport management.

Plays......................57.......................FSU (2018)
Receptions..............2................Louisville (2018)
Rec. Yards.............27...............Louisville (2018)

Kevin StipeDavidson
Kevin StipeDavidson

2018: Played in five games, registering five tackles • Made a solo stop at Marist (10/20) • Had a tackle in the season-ending win over Butler (11/17) • Named to the PFL Academic Honor Roll.

2017: Named to the PFL Academic Honor Roll • Appeared in two games before suffering a season-ending injury • Made four total tackles in a 30-7 victory over Brevard (9/2).

2016: Appeared in six games, recording 12 tackles and one interception • Made a season-high five tackles, four solo, against Jacksonville (10/29) • Had three total tackles at Marist (10/22) • Picked off a pass and returned it 12 yards in a 38-12 win over Livingstone (9/17).

Prep Years: Four-year letterwinner • Second Team All-Region • Two-time Gwinnett County Touchdown Player of the Month • National Honor Society • All-Region Academic Team  • Majoring in economics.

DeCalon BrooksFlorida State
DeCalon BrooksFlorida State


Played in final 11 games and made seven starts…recorded 46 tackles, including 3.0 for loss with 1.0 sack, two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery…made first collegiate start at Syracuse and registered career-high nine tackles…matched career-high tackles total, including career-best 2.0 for loss with 1.0 sack, and added one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry in 28-24 victory at Louisville…named ACC Linebacker of the Week following his performance at Cardinals…made collegiate debut in 36-26 win vs. Samford and had two solo tackles…had two stops in 37-19 win vs. Northern Illinois…recorded five tackles, 1.0 for loss, and one fumble recovery at No. 17 Miami…also had five tackles in 38-17 win vs. Wake Forest…registered seven tackles and one pass breakup vs. No. 2 Clemson…credited with three tackles and one quarterback hurry at North Carolina State…made two tackles at No. 3 Notre Dame…had one solo stop in 22-21 victory vs. No. 22 Boston College…recorded one solo tackle and one pass breakup vs. No. 13 Florida.


Logged repetitions by contributing to the scout team…redshirted the 2017 season.


Consensus three-star prospect and Top 50 linebacker recruit who starred at Gaither High School in Tampa…named the nation’s No. 47 inside linebacker prospect in Florida by 247Sports…rated the No. 7 inside linebacker prospect in Florida and No. 52 South ILB by Scout…ranked as one of the nation’s Top 100 linebacker recruits by ESPN…versatile prospect who has the rare blend of speed, strength, explosiveness and instincts that could propel him to excel at linebacker or safety…said to have “a natural nose for the football” by ESPN…ranked No. 33 on the Tampa Bay Times Hometown 100 of top area high school players…member of the All-Hillsborough County and Tampa Bay Times’ All-Tampa Bay first team defense as a linebacker after racking up 105 tackles, six sacks and one interception as a senior at Gaither last fall…had 114 tackles, five sacks and 12 tackles for loss as a junior…tallied 104 tackles as a sophomore…snagged second team All-Hillsborough County honors and honorable mention All-Tampa Bay as a junior…was a three-year starter for the Cowboys, averaging 10.8 tackles per game for his prep career…committed to Florida State in August 2016…selected the Seminoles over offers from Louisville, USF and Illinois among others…his father, Derrick Brooks, a two-time consensus All-American linebacker at Florida State in 1993 and 1994, has his jersey, No. 10, retired at FSU and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame and Florida State Hall of Fame.

Joe SpivakNorthwestern
Joe SpivakNorthwestern

2018: Saw action in nine games during his sophomore season … Academic All-Big Ten.

2017: One of 12 true first year players to see action during the regular season ... Appeared in five games as a backup defensive tackle ... Made his first career tackle in the Wildcats' 39-0 win over Minnesota ... Named the NU Defensive Practice Player of the Week by the coaching staff following games versus Duke and Nebraska.

High School: Three-year varsity team captain ... First sophomore in school history selected as a team captain ... Registered 64 tackles, 14 TFL and four sacks during his senior campaign in 2016 ... Appeared at defensive end, defensive tackle, fullback, guard and tackle for the Broncos ... Helped lead Montini to the state finals three times in four seasons ... Captained Broncos undefeated 2015 state championship team ... 2016 Chicago Catholic League Defensive Player of the Year ... Two-time All-Chicago Catholic League (2015, ’16) ... Two-time Chicago Tribune All-State honoree ... Two-time Gazette All-State honoree ... Esmark High School All-American ... Father, Joe, was an All-American for Illinois State University, playing for Northwestern superbacks coach Bob Heffner ... National Honor Society ... Two-time Academic All-State ... Four-time Academic All-Conference ... Anticipated major is communications studies with a minor in theater.

Nolan CooneySyracuse
Nolan CooneySyracuse

Career Overview: Fourth-year placekicker and punter ... Carved out an important role in 2018 as holder for record-setting kicker Ande Szmyt … Joined the team during 2016 preseason camp … Member of the Syracuse Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in 2017-18 ... Chief operating officer for the Syracuse chapter of Uplifting Athletes … Four-time member of the SU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and two-time ACC Honor Roll selection ... Redshirted in 2016 ... One letter.

Sophomore Year (2018): Appeared in every game as the holder for PATs and field goals ... Reliable ball spotter for All-America kicker and Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt, who led the nation in field goals (30) and did not miss an extra point (61-61).

Freshman Year (2017): Did not play in any games ... ACC Honor Roll selection … Member of the SU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll both semesters.

2016: Redshirt season ... ACC Honor Roll selection … Member of the SU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll both semesters.

Prep School: Spent the 2015 season at Bridgton Academy in Maine ... Punter and kicker for head coach Juwan Jackson.

High School: Three-sport standout in baseball, soccer and basketball ... Rated the top prospect at the Ray Guy Prokicker.com 2014 regional combine in Boston ... Batted .400 as a senior catcher to help the East Greenwich baseball team to a 12-6 record against Division I competition.

Personal: Nolan Joseph Cooney ... Born in September 1996 in Summit, N.J. ... Son of Joseph and Janice Cooney ... Mother, Janice, attended Syracuse University ... One sister ... Sport management major.

Hunter HayesPenn
Hunter HayesPenn

Career Accolades: 2016 Ivy League champion

2017: Appeared in all 10 games, playing special teams role … Finished with eight tackles … Had single tackle games against Ohio Dominican, Lehigh, Dartmouth, Central Connecticut State, Columbia and Princeton … Made two tackles against Harvard (11/11).

2016: Did not see any varsity game action due to injury.

South Fayette: Three-year letterwinner … Served as team captain … Two-time state champion (2013-14), going 32-0 over those two seasons … Won four Century Conference championships, compiling an overall 55-2 record during high school career … Two-time (2014-15) AP All-State Running Back … 2015 Century Conference Player of the Year … 2015 first-team All-Century Conference at running back and defensive back … 2015 Washington County Observer Player of the Year … Named to 2015 Pittsburgh Gazette Fabulous 22 … National Honor Society member.

Personal: Son of Barb Ludwig and John Hayes … High school teammate of Penn teammates Justin Watson and Logan Sharp … Uncle, Robert Ludwig, played football at Cornell … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences as a biology major.


Robert M. Long Executive Director
Robert M. Long Executive Director

A suburban Philadelphia native, Rob is a former All-American punter at Syracuse and has lived the rare disease journey. In December of 2010, late in his senior season, Rob was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. His prognosis at the time was less than encouraging, and his surgery, recovery and treatment took 16 months. Prior to his diagnosis, Rob was on a path to the NFL as a punter, but that opportunity was lost by the time he was healthy enough to train again. A graduate of Syracuse University, Rob pursued a Masters in New Media Management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He also received a B.S. from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.


Rob played football all four years for the Orange and was voted by his teammates as a team captain his final two seasons. He became the second Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes at the end of 2018. Prior to taking over as the Executive Director, Rob served as Uplifting Athletes' Director of Rare Disease Engagement for nearly two years. Rob has a steadfast commitment and connection to the Rare Disease Community as a rare brain cancer patient. As a former star college football student-athlete, his passion and drive to advance the mission of Uplifting Athletes is inspirational. Rob and his wife, Irie, reside in South Philadelphia.

Brett Brackett General Manager
Brett Brackett General Manager

The native of New Jersey has a burning passion for the Rare Disease Community and using the platform of sports for social good. Brett was always an exceptional athlete. And that athleticism served him well as he transitioned from a top-rated quarterback in high school to a standout wide receiver at Penn State to a tight end in the NFL. A four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection for the Nittany Lions, Brackett graduated with a double major in Marketing and Economics. He was the President of the Penn State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes and was voted as a co-captain of the team his senior year.


On the field he played in 52 straight games and averaged 12.8 yards per catch with seven touchdowns. Undrafted out of college, he still made it to the NFL with stops in Miami, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Seattle before his playing career came to an end. Brett and his wife, Jamie, have a daughter Lia. Currently, Brett serves the Rare Disease Community as Uplifting Athletes Director of Sports Impact and General Manager.


Andrew P. Shay Communications
Andrew P. Shay Communications

A military brat who lived all over the world for three decades of his life, Andy came to Uplifting Athletes full-time in 2014 after 18 months working part-time. Prior to joining Uplifting Athletes he was a sportswriter for PennLive/The Patriot-News for more than 20 years covering high school football, golf, college recruiting and basketball. Andy is also an Army combat veteran, serving in the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment during Operation Desert Storm.

He has been married to Maureen for 25 years and has two grown children, Kaci and Brendan. Andy serves the Rare Disease Community as Uplifting Athletes Director of Communications.

Karen Kirkpatrick Director of Finance
John M. Trzeciak Business Manager
John M. Trzeciak Business Manager

Although John grew up in upstate New York, he considers State College, Pa. his home. John earned both an undergraduate and a Masters of Business Administration degree from Penn State University. He worked for more than two decades for a multi-national company with its World Headquarters in State College. He joined that organization in its relative infancy, and after leading the growth of the Sales and Marketing functions globally, retired from the organization in 2016. John was a member of the inaugural Executive Team at the organization.


Although not a collegiate athlete, John has always participated in sports and has a devotion to sports and what sports can offer any individual. Being able to maximize the benefit of sport to help others is a rewarding challenge that John has been dedicated to and actively engaged in with Uplifting Athletes since his retirement when he took on the role of Business Manager.

Trey Klock - Intern Chapter Management
Trey Klock - Intern Chapter Management

Trey founded the Georgia Tech Chapter and when he transferred to Northwestern he joined the leadership team of the Wildcats’ Chapter. His passion for the Rare Disease Community started with the loss of his brother, Kyle, to Tay-Sachs Disease and then having his Uncle Tom see his life cut short after battling ALS. Trey was a star at Lower Dauphin High School, earning First-Team All-State and Big 33 honors while also winning a District 3 Class AAAA championship.

After a redshirt year at Georgia Tech in 2014, he appeared in 22 games the next two years while picking up his undergraduate degree. He transferred to Northwestern in 2017 and was part of the 2018 Big Ten West championship team. He received academic honors from both the ACC and Big Ten conferences. Trey joined the Uplifting Athletes team in 2019 and serves as the Chapter Management Intern.


Scott Shirley
Keith Deaven
David Wozniak
Kerwin Stetler
Tiffini Grimes
Scott Schliebner

UA Lettermen

Obi Egekeze
Obi Egekeze
Obi Egekeze
Obi Egekeze

3-year starter and 2-time All-Academic place kicker at Maryland. Earned degrees in Finance and International Business. Founded Maryland chapter of Uplifting Athletes to support cystic fibrosis research. Earned MBA at University of Illinois and co-founded Illinois chapter to benefit acoustic neuroma. Currently an associate finance manager in brand development at Unilever and kicking instructer with Chris Sailer kicking.

Chris Borland
Chris Borland

After serving as vice president of Uplifting Athletes at Wisconsin, linebacker Chris Borland was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and recorded 108 tackles in 8 games in 2014. Retired from the NFL over concerns of the long term mental health effects of repetitive head trauma. With a strong interest in medical research, Chris is currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area while deciding on his post-NFL career.

Jake Smith
Jake Smith
Jake Smith
Jake Smith

Starting center and Uplifting Athletes chapter co-founder at St. Francis University. Jake served as vice president and helped organize the SFU Lift for Life and other events to support research for the rare disease apraxia. Currently an IT professional for Thermo Fisher Scientific in Boston, Massachusetts, where he plays rugby for Boston RFC in his spare time.

Jeff Wasilewski
Jeff Wasilewski
Jeff Wasilewski
Jeff Wasilewski

Co-founded St. Francis chapter of Uplifting Athletes, where he served as president and worked with his teammates to raise nearly $10,000 in first year to support children affected by apraxia. Currently resides in Northern Virginia where he works for a regional CPA firm, Kearney & Company, providing professional services to federal clients. An avid golfer.

Mark Herzlich
Mark Herzlich
Mark Herzlich
Mark Herzlich

A linebacker for the New York Giants, Mark overcame his battle with Ewing’s sarcoma while playing football at Boston College. The Honorary Chairman of Uplifting Athletes was the inspiration for the BC chapter and has held several fundraising events for the rare disease community.

Brett Brackett
Brett Brackett

A former Uplifting Athletes chapter president at team co-captain Penn State, Brett has played in the NFL since 2011 with six teams. The current Tennessee Titans TE was instrumental in forming the Letterman’s Club and continues to volunteer with Uplifting Athletes in the offseason.


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