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 and lasting impact on their communities

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!

$220,963.27 Amount Raised
87 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.

$25,407.28 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!

$66,340.76 Amount Raised
57 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.

$35,855.40 Amount Raised
35 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 Monday November 12, 2018
Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.  Name: Steven Farrell College: University of Pennsylvania Height, weight, class, position: 6-foot-4, 205-pound, senior, wide receiver High School: Pasack Valley HS in Hillsdale, New Jersey About Farrell: A two-sport standout coming out of […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday November 12, 2018
Eventually it was going to end, even the Colgate players and defensive coaches talked last week privately about the consecutive game touchdown streak for the Raiders defense ending. The historic streak, mentioned on ESPN’s College Gameday on Saturday before Colgate visited Lehigh, officially came to a close for the undefeated and No. 8 ranked Raiders […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday November 05, 2018
In his second season in charge at Baylor, head coach Matt Ruhle declared the goal for this season was to become bowl eligible. The Bears were 1-11 a year ago and are in the midst of a massive program re-build. What might be considered normal preseason coach speak was exactly what Ruhle believed was possible […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday November 05, 2018
Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.  Name: Nick Rinella College: Saint Francis University Height, weight, class, position: 5-foot-10, 200-pound, junior, safety High School: LaSalle College HS, Collegeville, Pa. About Rinella: Arrived at Saint Francis as a highly decorated high […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday November 05, 2018
Saint Francis junior Nick Rinella went old-school football to help the Red Flash post a victory – putting on a Chuck Bednarik type display by doing a little bit of everything. Rinella had a huge impact in all three phases for Saint Francis at home against Bryant by leading the Red Flash in rushing yards, […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Wednesday October 31, 2018
For the participating members of our nationwide network of college football student-athlete led chapters, touchdowns during the month of October meant more than six points on the board. Each touchdown provided support to the Rare Disease Community. The Touchdown Pledge Drive 2018 month-long campaign took place on 15 university campuses. Clemson, Colgate, Davidson, Fordham, Illinois, […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday October 29, 2018
On the heels of beating fellow Uplifting Athletes Chapter NC State for the first time in five outings, the Syracuse Orange are nationally ranked for the first time in 17 years. Syracuse, last ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the 2001 season when the Orange went 10-3 overall, enter the 2018 polls […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday October 29, 2018
Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.  Name: Kevin Stipe College: Davidson College Height, weight, class, position: 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, junior, cornerback High School: Wesleyan HS in Alpharetta, Georgia About Stipe: After appearing in six games as a true freshman […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Monday October 29, 2018
In a week where Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey saw his job as the starter in limbo, the Orange senior responded with a record-breaking game. Dungey came out on fire against NC State and sparked the Orange to a 24-7 lead after one quarter on his way to 443 total yards of offense and four touchdowns […] Continue Reading »
Posted on Tuesday October 23, 2018
  Uplifting Athletes hosted Roberta Smith and her daughters for an Uplifting Experience at the August 31st Rare Disease Awareness Game between Syracuse and Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We were fortunate enough to learn Roberta’s Rare Disease story and we are honored to provide the platform for Roberta to share her story. By Roberta […] 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


Mon, 11/12/2018 - 17:05
@ upliftingathletes
SWIPE LEFT to see the 11th annual Rare Disease Champion Finalist! We are proud to share our finalist and their amazing rare disease journeys. Winner announced December 6th! 🏆💪🏈 VOTE at upliftingathletes.org/vote #WeTackleRare . . . Finalist: Antwan Dixon - Kent State Joshua Eargle -Austin Peay Sam Heckel - Syracuse Nick Allegretti - Illinois Ryan Beecher - Stanford #collegefootball #raredisease #awareness #collegefootballplayoff #cfp #UpliftingAthletes #rarediseasechampion #college #football #rare #champions #research #leadership #syracuse #Illinois #kentstate #AustinPeay #standford #leadershipdevelopment #AplasticAnemia #TTP #ThromboticThrombocytopenicPurpura #NonHodgkins #LargeTCell #Lymphoma #rarecancer #rareblooddisorders #btsm #mondaymotivation
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Wed, 10/31/2018 - 18:45
@ upliftingathletes
Congratulations to Penn State Uplifting Athletes Chapter Leader Trace McSorley on being named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy which annually recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation. Good luck to Trace and the 12 other finalist, especially Ryan Finley (NC State), Drue Tranquill (Notre Dame), Christian Wilkins (Clemson) who have participated in Uplifting Athletes chapter events at their respective schools. #wetacklerare
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Wed, 10/24/2018 - 23:53
@ upliftingathletes
So glad the @upliftingathletes team was able to catch up with our 2018 Young Investigator Draft Grant Recipient Emily Lowry at the @projectals 20th anniversary event! #WeTackleRare
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Mon, 10/22/2018 - 21:30
@ upliftingathletes
Congrats to the Week 8 Rare Performance of the week winner @__18shots for his effort in the @pennstatefball win against Indiana. #wetacklerare
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Sat, 10/20/2018 - 15:25
@ upliftingathletes
Good luck to all of our chapter schools who are competing to make a difference off the field with every touchdown scored in the month of October! #wetacklerare ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ 📷 cred: si.com chicagotribune.com stonybrooksathletics.com goprincetontigers.com wmubroncos.com lehighsports.com fordhamsports.com pennlive.com AP Keith Srakocic davidsonwildcats.com
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Fri, 10/19/2018 - 15:39
@ upliftingathletes
Uplifting Athletes Chapters are on 🔥this October. Through the first two weeks of Touchdown Pledge Drive here is a snapshot of the great work being done across college football. Shout out to @illinifootball @pennstatefball and @wmu_football for leading the way so far!
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Sat, 10/13/2018 - 14:28
@ upliftingathletes
Uplifting Athletes chapters are on a mission to inspire this Saturday! Every touchdown scored today by our participating chapters means more support for those suffering from #rarediseases. Find your favorite football team at the link in our bio and support the cause today! #wetacklerare ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ ▪️ 📸 cred: si.com sportspagemagazine.com davidsonwildcats.com fightingillini.com goprincetontigers.com gopsusports.com mcall.com news.fordham.edu penntoday.upenn.edu gocolgateraiders.com
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Sat, 10/06/2018 - 23:18
@ upliftingathletes
Congrats to the @bufootball Chapter on the victory at home against Kansas State today! It was exciting to witness the go ahead last second field goal in person, thanks for having us out to Waco! #wetacklerare
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Fri, 10/05/2018 - 21:59
@ upliftingathletes
Good luck to our chapter schools that kick of their Touchdown Pledge Drive campaigns this weekend. This October every score means more! #wetacklerare
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Corporate Champions

CSL Behring