Before Zach walked on at Syracuse University after a year of junior college football, his passion for the Rare Disease Community already existed.
Zach had a childhood friend, Blake Donegan, who he fell out of touch with for quite a while. When Zach saw his friend again in high school he was in a wheelchair, diagnosed with the rare disease Niemann-Pick disease, Type C, a lipid storage affliction that can lead to respiratory failure and liver damage and has no known cure. Blake deals with seizures on a regular basis and struggles to speak, eat or stand on his own. But he’s a fighter with an infectious never-give-up attitude that served as a great inspiration for Zach.
Zach eventually earned a scholarship at Syracuse and became a reliable No. 2 QB, throwing for more than 2,000 yards in his career. Inspired by Blake to make a difference, Zach served as President of the Syracuse Chapter of Uplifting Athletes for two years. Zach still owns the Syracuse record for most touchdown responsibility in a game with seven (five passing, two rushing) in a win over Pittsburgh. He broke Jim Brown’s record of six.