Jan. 8, 2013
Navy sophomore safety Chris Ferguson is one of seven finalists for the 2013 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award. Penn State's Eric Shrive, Oklahoma's Austin Woods, Humboldt State's Dillon Reagan, Florida's Neiron Ball, USC's Frankie Telfort and Fordham's Andrew Milmore join Ferguson as a finalist.
To read about each finalist's personal story and connection to the rare disease community, as well as to cast your vote for this year's champion, log onto: www.upliftingathletes.org/vote. Only one vote per email address is allowed.
The honor is presented annually to recognize a leader in the world of college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community. More than 30-million Americans are affected by rare diseases.
As a youngster from second through fifth grade, Ferguson suffered from a rare neurological disorder known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The rare disease took away his ability to walk - Ferguson relied on a walker for a year - and also affected his memory. Guillain-Barre Syndrome nearly took his life.
"I had to relearn everything," said Ferguson. "I had to learn how to talk again and had to learn basic motor skills. I will always keep pushing forward and stay positive and that's what I tell others."
The fifth annual award winner will be determined by an online vote beginning today and ending January 31st at 11:59 p.m. EST. The 2013 Champion will be announced February 1st. The winner will be presented the Rare Disease Champion Sculpture at the Maxwell Club Awards Gala in Atlantic City on March 1st.
About Uplifting Athletes: Uplifting Athletes is a full-service national nonprofit organization aligning college football with rare diseases and raising them as a national priority through research, outreach, education and advocacy. What makes Uplifting Athletes unique is that our university chapters are run by current football student-athletes, providing them with an opportunity to gain management and leadership skills while learning how to leverage their assets and abilities to make a positive and lasting impact. Current Chapters: Nebraska, Penn State, Ohio State, Kent State, NC State, Fordham, St. Francis, Notre Dame, Maryland, Illinois, Northwestern, Princeton and Colgate. Each chapter adopts one out of approximately 7,000 rare diseases (such as ALS, Aplastic Anemia, CMT, cystic fibrosis, Ehlers-Danlos, Ewing's Sarcoma, Kidney Cancer, Leukemia, MS, Neimann Pick Type-C, Neuroblastoma, pancreatic cancer, etc.).