By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer
Six former Baylor football players are participating in this week’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis. All six of them are pledging one of their combine drills to Uplifting Athletes, a foundation which “shares the platform of sport with the rare disease cause and raises it as a national priority.”
James Lynch, an All-American defensive lineman this past season, dedicated his bench press to this cause and has helped raise approximately $2,180 so far. He said that this is an easy way to raise funds, and awareness, for a good cause.
It’s a very simple way to just help raise awareness,” Lynch said. “It’s just trying to help the goodness of this world and let people know there’s other things than football and that we can try and help out. This is an easy way to do it.”
Levi Norwood, a former Baylor wide receiver who started the organization’s chapter at this university, is now an ambassador for Uplifting Athletes. Norwood said that they are trying to use the platform that athletics provides to help people in tough situations.
“We use fundraisers throughout sport,” Norwood said, “to raise money for rare diseases and rare disease research. That goes from kids all the way up to adults. The mission of Uplifting Athletes is to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.”
Lynch said the diseases this organization tries to help combat are ones which, although not very common or widely known, often put their victims in bad situations. He called on the Baylor community to help spread awareness and raise funds for this cause.
“The easiest way [to help out],” Lynch said, “is to find an athlete like me or any of the other athletes from Baylor that are doing it and to pledge money to our foundation. Or they could start up their own fundraiser and help the spread the word about it and help raise money for it.”
Norwood said that the organization grants some of the money it raises to researchers who are working to further knowledge and treatment of rare diseases.
“One of the ways that we fund rare disease research is through a grant program,” Norwood said. “In two weeks in Philadelphia, we have our young investigators draft, so we will give five researchers grants to further their research and help make an impact in the rare disease community. We’ve seen that research make a difference for rare diseases.
Lynch will participate in the combine with the rest of the defensive linemen on Saturday. To pledge money to the rare disease campaign based on how many bench press reps Lynch performs, and to help raise awareness for rare diseases, you can go to Lynch’s Uplifting Athletes page.
“There’s no reason not to help out,” Lynch said. “I feel like it’s such a good cause, there’s no bad thing about it.”