Fordham Football Athletes Take Part in Rare Disease Community Celebration



Lucas Portes and Ryan Joyce represent Rams at Uplifting Athletes event

Bronx, NY – When Uplifting Athletes presented $180,000 in rare disease research grants at its fifth annual Young Investigators Draft in Philadelphia on February 7, 2022, members of the Fordham Chapter were part of the celebration and were part of the team of student-athletes who granted these possible scholarships.

“Uplifting Athletes’ mission to inspire hope in the rare disease community through the power of sport comes to life through the efforts of these college student-athletes, who join us in shining a spotlight on rare diseases” , said Rob Long, Executive Director, Uplifting Athletes. “We are extremely grateful to Fordham Football for helping to make our work possible by engaging in campus awareness and fundraising initiatives throughout the year.”

Fordham is one of 26 student-athlete-led Uplifting Athletes college chapters, including 25 men’s soccer teams and one women’s soccer team, who are using their own powerful platforms to give voice to the 30 million Americans diagnosed with rare diseases. .


Ryan Joyce and Lucas Portes

Fordham annually participates in Uplifting Athletes’ signature Life for Life event during the offseason and Touchdown Pledge Drive during the season. Through their involvement, these dedicated student-athletes improve their individual leadership skills and gain valuable life experiences, while making a significant impact on the rare disease community.

Representing Fordham in the 2022 Uplifting Athletes Young Seekers Draft, there were junior offensive linemen Lucas Gates and ryan joyce. The duo were visiting Philadelphia to participate in the annual Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference, a two-day gathering focused on developing transferable life skills, rare disease advocacy and leadership. They were joined by 30 other student-athletes who also lead Uplifting Athletes college chapters across the country.

The conference agenda included the opportunity to attend the 2022 Uplifting Athletes Young Seekers Draft at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. This year marked the first time the young scholar’s draft coincided with the leadership development conference.

The Young Investigator Draft is modeled after the NFL Draft but shifts the focus from selecting emerging talent on the football field to recognizing the next generation of promising young medical researchers in the field of rare diseases. This is one of many signature initiatives created by Uplifting Athletes to raise awareness and fund research into rare diseases, which affect 1 in 10 people in the United States.

In the 2022 draft, Uplifting Athletes celebrated nine promising young researchers in the field of rare diseases and honored each of them with an unrestricted grant of $20,000, co-funded by nine partners from patient advocacy organizations, to support their vital work. Over the past five years, the Young Investigator Draft has awarded more than $620,000 in grants to 34 rare disease researchers in North America.

“We are thrilled that student-athletes attending our 2022 Leadership Development Conference will be able to attend this year’s Young Scholars Draft,” Long said. “They have seen firsthand the difference they make using their platform to advocate for the rare disease community and see the direct impact their work has on funding rare disease research. we present each year are funded, in part, through the efforts of these dedicated student-athletes.”

The six newest members of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Team presented by Sanofi Genzyme were also honored in the draft, highlighting college football leaders who are making a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community. This marks the 14th year for the initiative, which is part of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA).

Selected for this honor were Mac Brown, University of Mississippi; Sam Fraley, formerly Temple University (transfer portal entered); Dillan Gibbons, Florida State University; Tyler Lavine, Southern Methodist University; Peter Snodgrass, Northwestern University; and Zeke Zaragoza, Oklahoma State University. All exemplify the best of student-athletes supporting the rare disease community in extraordinarily meaningful ways. Learn more about their stories and the stories of the 2022 Young Seekers Draft class at

About rare diseases

A rare disease is defined as a disease that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans per year. These diseases are often chronic, progressive, degenerative and potentially fatal. Collectively, there are approximately 7,000 rare diseases affecting more than 30 million Americans, or one in 10 people. More than half are children, 30% of whom will not live to see their fifth birthday. Unfortunately, rare disease research is extremely limited due to the lack of financial incentive to develop and market new treatments for small populations.

About Uplifting Athletes

Uplifting Athletes aims to inspire hope in the rare disease community through the power of sport. The nonprofit organization engages students and professional athletes to realize the impact of using their own powerful platforms to give voice to the 30 million Americans diagnosed with rare diseases. With the support of 26 college chapters run by student-athletes, including 25 men’s soccer teams and one women’s soccer team, and more than 80 ambassadors from all of America’s professional sports leagues, including representatives from the National Football League ( NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB), Uplifting Athletes has raised over $5 million for its mission since its inception in 2007. Programs include rare disease awareness, rare disease research, uplifting leaders and uplifting experiences, with several flagship initiatives under these banners. To learn more, visit

About CSL Behring

CSL Behring is a global biotherapeutics leader driven by its promise to save lives. Focused on meeting patient needs using the latest technologies, we discover, develop and deliver innovative therapies for people living with conditions in the therapeutic areas of immunology, hematology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, breathing and transplants. We use three strategic science platforms of plasma fractionation, recombinant protein technology, and cell and gene therapy to support continuous innovation and continually refine the ways in which products can address unmet medical needs and help patients to lead full lives.

CSL Behring operates one of the largest plasma collection networks in the world, CSL Plasma. The parent company, CSL Limited (ASX: CSL; USOTC: CSLLY), headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, employs more than 25,000 people worldwide and provides its lifesaving therapies to people in more than 100 countries. For inspiring stories about the promise of biotechnology, visit Vita and follow us on


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