Loretto, PA -- The Saint Francis football has joined the fight against rare diseases by becoming the 12th school nationally to start a chapter of Uplifting Athletes.
Uplifting Athletes is a nonprofit organization uniting college football teams under the common goal of raising awareness and funds in the fight against rare diseases. A rare disease is defined as one that affects less than 200,000 people. Because of their rare designation, these diseases often receive little or no funding to support awareness and research to treat or cure illnesses. With more than 7,000 rare diseases in existence, the organization impacts more than 30-million Americans.
The Red Flash chapter of Uplifting Athletes will be headed up by Jeff Wasilewski (Ebensburg, Pa. / Central Cambria), a CoSIDA Academic All-District Selection in 2011 and Academic All-American candidate in 2012. University chapters of Uplifting Athletes are set-up as registered student organizations, run by current football student-athletes and benefit a rare disease that is relevant to their team. Each chapter plans and hosts special events to help raise awareness for its rare disease.
“Uplifting Athletes is an organization that drew my attention for multiple reasons. It was founded by, and is centered around collegiate football players, teams, and programs,” Wasilewski said. “It's cause of helping to aid in the research of rare diseases is very important to me because of my brother, who has been diagnosed with Apraxia which falls into the rare diseases category. I also have friends on the Penn State football team who speak very highly of Uplifting Athletes, which is what led me to founding a chapter here at Saint Francis.”
Current Uplifting Athletes chapters include Boston College, Colgate, Kent State, Maryland, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Princeton, Fordham, Notre Dame, Illinois and Saint Francis.
“The ability to choose our rare disease was an awesome feature of partnering with Uplifting Athletes,” Vice President of the SFU Chapter of Uplifting Athletes Jake Smith (Galena, Ohio / St. Francis DeSales) said. “Apraxia is a disease that our whole team is aware of because we all know Sean (Wasilewski), Jeff's brother. I think it will be great that we will have a person in front of us every game to represent what we are working towards.”
The Red Flash Football team is planning several events for this upcoming season to help raise awareness for Apraxia. Red Flash fans can check back at SFUathletics.com in the future for further information once it because available.