Our Mission

Our Mission is to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.


Our Vision is to empower people to take action against rare diseases and be a catalyst for the medical community to find cures.

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!

$223,890.27 Amount Raised
88 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.

$35,699.40 Amount Raised
42 Campaigns

Uplifting Events & Awareness Campaigns

My Cause, My Cleats
Rare Disease Champion
Young Investigator Draft
Reps for Rare Diseases

My Cause, My Cleats

Date: Week 13-15
Location: NFL Stadiums

During a week each NFL season, players across the league support their favorite cause by wearing custom designed cleats representing their cause.

Rare Disease Champion

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

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.

Rare Disease Champion

Young Investigator Draft

Date: March 9th, 2019
Location: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)


Reps for Rare Diseases

Date: February/March
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

Reps for Rare Diseases gives hopeful NFL players an opportunity to share their spotlight with the Rare Disease Community! Learn More

Uplifting News

Posted on Tuesday February 12, 2019
The Penn Chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold its Lift For Life to support the Rare Disease Community during the 13th annual Iron Quaker competition on February 23rd. The Iron Quaker, started in 2007, serves as the final workout for the Penn football team during winter conditioning. Lift For Life is the signature fundraising event […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Tuesday February 12, 2019
Uplifting Athletes is excited to host the 2nd Annual Young Investigator Draft on Saturday, March 9th at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. The Young Investigator Draft is the result of Uplifting Athletes’ ongoing commitment to cultivate resources that accelerate scientific advancements for rare disease treatments and potential cures while facilitating the […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Wednesday January 16, 2019
Brett Brackett moves into General Manager role to complete leadership team Uplifting Athletes is excited to officially announce the promotions of Rob Long to Executive Director and Brett Brackett to General Manager. The duo will comprise a new executive team formed in the final quarter of 2018. Uplifting Athletes former Executive Director Scott Shirley, who […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2019
The bedrock of the Uplifting Leaders program at Uplifting Athletes is the college football student-athletes that guide our nationwide network of chapters. These student-athletes already have the drive and passion to help others and that is why they chose to step up and become chapter leaders to help us serve the Rare Disease Community. In […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Thursday January 10, 2019
Uplifting Athletes is pleased to announce global biotechnology leader CSL Behring will return as the title sponsor in 2019 for the second annual Young Investigator Draft on March 9th at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Young Investigator Draft, tying the theme of the NFL Draft and Rare Disease Research together, is the result of […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Wednesday December 19, 2018
This story was written by Patrick Nothaft of MLive.com. It is being re-posted with permission. KALAMAZOO, MI – Rarely at a loss for words, Western Michigan’s loquacious football coach, Tim Lester, struggled to find the right one to describe the impact senior running back Jamauri Bogan has made on the program. Hard to blame him, though, […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Wednesday December 12, 2018
May your days be filled with Peace, Hope and Joy this Holiday Season! On behalf of the 30 million Americans that comprise the Rare Disease Community, our staff and team of college football student-athletes thank you for your loyalty and support in 2018!  It has been a memorable year and we thank you for helping […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Thursday December 06, 2018
Austin Peay State University Offensive Coordinator Joshua Eargle is the 11th winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion award. In a public on-line vote that started last month, Coach Eargle outlasted a field of finalists that included: University of Illinois offensive lineman Nick Allegretti; Stanford University linebacker Ryan Beecher; Kent State University wide receiver […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Tuesday December 04, 2018
Colgate hosted its first playoff game in 15 years, and the wait was well worth it. Junior kicker Chris Puzzi set a school record with his 15th field goal of the season – drilling a 38-yard kick just inside the right upright as time expired to win it for the Raiders. Next up for the […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Friday November 30, 2018
We are proud to share that five NFL players have chosen to shine a spotlight on the rare disease cause with their cleats. The NFL’s annual My Cause My Cleats kicked off this week and Uplifting Athletes cleats will be worn in NFL games by Cameron Lynch, Riley Dixon, Malik Turner, Garry Gilliam and Zaire […] Continue Reading »

Key Leadership

Chapter Leaders

NC State - Thomas Ruocchio
Penn State - Ryan Bates
Penn State - Steven Gonzalez
Clemson - Kyle Cote
Colgate - Owen Buscaglia
Davidson - George Hatalowich
Florida State - Alec Eberle
Illinois - Nick Allegretti
Maryland - Avery Edwards
Northwestern - Tommy Doles
Notre Dame - Jimmy Thompson
Penn - Cooper Gardner
Princeton - Kurt Holuba
Saint Francis - Mike Ames
Stony Brook - Marc Nolan
Syracuse - Sam Heckel
Western Michigan - Jamauri Bogan


Scott Shirley/Founder & Strategic Advisor
Rob Long/Executive Director
Brett Brackett/General Manager
Andy Shay/Director of Communications
John Trzeciak/Business Manager
Karen Kirkpatrick/Director of Finance


Scott Shirley/Founder & Strategic Advisor
Keith Deaven
David Wozniak
Kerwin Stetler
Tiffini Grimes

UA Lettermen

Obi Egekeze
Obi Egekeze
Chris Borland
Jake Smith
Jake Smith
Jeff Wasilewski
Jeff Wasilewski
Mark Herzlich
Mark Herzlich
Brett Brackett


Corporate Champions

CSL Behring