Faith Davies: Rare Disease Champion™

March 28, 2024

Uplifting Athletes is deeply honored to recognize University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) soccer goalkeeper, Faith Davies, as a Rare Disease Champion™. 

Faith’s unwavering commitment to raising awareness and advocating for those battling these often-invisible illnesses is truly awe-inspiring. But it’s the story behind Faith’s passion that makes her commitment truly shine.

A Calling Fueled by Compassion

Faith was nominated for this recognition by her club soccer coach Daryl Wooldridge, who has coached and mentored Faith for over a decade. Coach Wooldridge understands the challenges within the rare disease community as he is bravely navigating a rare diagnosis of his own.

Photo of Daryl Wooldridge and Faith Davies

“Faith Davies has long been dedicated to helping others and utilizing her position as an athlete. Her most recent endeavor has been to make an impact with rare diseases. I have been a coach and mentor to Faith and also have a rare cancer. I know her heart and have seen her passion and dedication to causes she cares about,” said Coach Wooldridge in his nomination of Faith. 

Faith and Coach Wooldridge’s relationship is permanently sealed on Faith’s forearm in the form of a tattoo that says “perseverance” written in Coach’s handwriting.

Photograph of Faith's arm that says "perseverance".
Photo of Faith Davies’ Tattoo

During high school, Faith was injured and subsequently questioned her own strength and her own ability to bounce back. Coach Wooldridge wrote Faith a handwritten note that focused on Faith’s strength and previous examples of her ability to overcome adversity. He focused on Faith’s perseverance and showing her that all the strength she needed she already had in her.

He saw Faith’s strength before she even recognized it herself. 

At Uplifting Athletes’ 2024 Young Investigator Draft, Coach Wooldridge watched Faith present Dr. Noah Guiberson with a $20,000 grant for his research in STXBP1 from his hospital bed after being recently re-diagnosed following years of being in remission. 

Coach Wooldridge now references Faith’s perseverance as a sign and inspiration for him to stay strong and keep battling.

Photo of Faith Davies Presenting at the 2024 Young Investigator Draft

In addition to being fueled by Coach Wooldridge, Faith’s former teammate Kenzie Balcerak from Eastern Illinois was also pivotal in igniting Faith’s commitment to supporting the rare disease community. 

Kenzie Balcerak started the first ever women’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes because a teammate was going through cancer treatments and the team wanted to show their support. What Kenzie didn’t know when she decided to start the chapter was that her own rare diagnosis was a few short months away. 

Kenzie’s strength and commitment to showing support for a teammate helped fuel Faith to start a new chapter at UIW when she transferred there.  

Faith’s advocacy transcends events and fundraising. It’s a testament to the profound impact she’s made on those closest to her. 

“At the end of everything I want to be remembered for the impact I have, not wins, loses, or accolades from soccer,” said Faith.   

Leadership Woven with Empathy

Faith isn’t just a force on the soccer field; she’s a leader who inspires action. 

She spearheaded the creation of the UIW chapter of Uplifting Athletes, providing a mechanism for her entire team and program to support the rare disease community. Faith also led the first Uplifting Experience at UIW, which was held October 2023. 

Photo of the UIW Soccer Team and Uplifting Experience Attendees

As a Chapter Leader at two different universities, Faith’s unwavering dedication to fundraising initiatives has led to an impressive $9,600 raised and dozens of individuals positively impacted by her action. 

Now, Faith is spearheading the first Lift for Life to be held at UIW, which you can learn more about here.

Celebrating a Champion Who Embodies Our Spirit

Faith Davies exemplifies the very essence of Uplifting Athletes—athletes using their platform to invest in the lives of people impacted by rare diseases. She’s more than just a talented athlete; she’s a leader, an advocate, and an inspiration. 

“I’m so grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me. I don’t take them for granted and I’m so thankful to have my coaches, teammates, supporters, and my mom who have all helped make any of this possible,” said Faith.  

We celebrate Faith’s achievements with immense pride, knowing that her unwavering spirit will continue to champion the fight against rare diseases for years to come. Faith is a beacon of hope and a testament to the power each of us has within us to make a difference.