The rare disease community won again on Saturday, as Uplifting Athletes conducted its 15th
annual Lift for Life fundraiser
to raise both awareness of uncommon conditions and money for research.
The event, hosted at State College as part of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, featured both offensive and defensive stars from the Penn State University football team participating in a variety of strength-based competitions, including bench press, tug of war, and tire races, among others.
"You come together and put on a show for the fans and families. It's a special event," said the team’s running back, Saquon Barkley, a junior. "I'm so happy to be at a place like Penn State that does stuff like this."
In one of the highlights of the day, Barkley cranked out 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, which tied the top mark for a running back at the 2017 NFL Combine.
Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit organization, aimed at inspiring hope for the rare disease community through sport, has a national network of chapters run by student-athletes. It was founded by former Penn State football player Scott Shirley
in 2003 after his father was diagnosed with an untreatable, rare form of kidney cancer.
"(Lift for Life) has grown into a huge philanthropy, and they're doing such a great job," said redshirt senior offensive lineman Andrew Nelson. "We hope every year it just gets bigger and bigger, and we can make a difference in the rare disease community.”
"All the stories of people hearing, 'There's nothing we can do for you,' that just breaks your heart as a human being. That still goes on, so just to give back to such a great cause, to continue the tradition of Uplifting Athletes and Lift for Life here at Penn State, and grow this chapter, means a lot to the players."
The total money raised by Saturday’s event has not yet been announced by Penn State, but in its 15-year existence, the Lift for Life event has raised nearly $1.2 million for cancer and rare disease research.
For more on fundraising events and opportunities throughout the rare disease community, follow Rare Disease Report