Pennsylvania State University has a lot to brag about. After all, it’s famous for its football program, it’s Meteorology and Geography departments are ranked in the Top 10 of the country, and its phenomenal and unique Ice Cream Course. But the charity work of Penn State’s Lift for Life event is in a league of its own.
This year’s event was the 15th Annual Lift for Life. It’s sponsored by the Uplifting Athletes non-profit that partners with college football athletes to raise awareness and funds for rare diseases. Each chapter of Uplifting Athletes has its own cause. Some focus on rare diseases that affect one of their own players. Others have a community cause that they’re passionate about. For Penn State players, they are happy just knowing that the money will go to promoting the development of life skills, patient-focused programs and rare disease research that will benefit society as a whole.
The event took place on Saturday, July 15. More than 2,000 fans gathered in the Holuba Hall to watch different members of the football team compete in one-on-one battles. Tire flipping, a sled pulling competition, bench pressing, and an epic tug of war contest were just a few of the spectacles put on by the team. By the end of the event, over $95,000 had been raised for the Uplifting Athletes program.
Penn State has a unique relationship with the Uplifting Athletes program. It was Penn State football alum Scott Shirley who founded the non-profit in 2003. It was after Scott was diagnosed with a deadly form of kidney cancer that his teammates suggested they use their fame to shine a light on the situation. The team conceived of a summer straight and conditioning competition where they could raise funds for the research and treatment of diseases like Scott’s.
15 years later, Uplifting Athletes has raised over $400 million for the rare disease community. $1.3 million of that total has come directly from Penn State. The athletes who are involved feel honored that they can compete for this cause. They’re proud that their fellow athlete founded the movement. Many are excited that they can use their college football platform to elevate the rare disease community and make the world a better place.