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    Crawford Named Finalist for the 2012 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award
    Wayne Crawford
    Wayne Crawford

    Feb. 2, 2012

    Raleigh, N.C. -

    Four finalists have been named for the 2012 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award. They include: NC State's Wayne Crawford, Nebraska's Rex Burkhead, UCLA's Luke Gane and Florida's David Lerner.

    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.

    The 4rd annual award winner will be determined by an online vote beginning Wednesday, February 1st and ending February 26th. The Champion will be announced at the National Institute of Heath in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, February 29th. Presentation of the sculpture to the winner will be determined at a later date.

    Previous winners include American Football Coaches Association Executive Director, Grant Teaff (2009); Dickinson College Quarterback, Ian Mitchell (2010); Princeton Running Back Jordan Culbreath (2011).

    To read 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: Only one vote per email address.

    Wayne Crawford: NC State Center

    Wayne Crawford recalls November 20, 2009, well. It’s the day the Wolfpack senior center, along with his teammates, found out their offensive coordinator Dana Bible had Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia or cancer of the blood.

    “We were shocked and, yet, I knew we wanted to help,” Crawford says. “I’ve been affected by rare diseases in my family and then this.”



    Crawford was already aware of the work of Uplifting Athletes. That same season, North Carolina State contributed money to the Boston College chapter of Uplifting Athletes in honor of Eagle linebacker Mark Herzlich, who had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma.

    Crawford, along with some teammates, decided to launch a chapter of Uplifting Athletes at NC State. Starting a new organization always poses challenges, but Crawford worked tirelessly to persuade teammates to join.

    “Coming up with a cause was easy,” Crawford says. “Coach Bible was so sick, yet he was the same old coach. He would come to practice and get on us, just as he had done in the past.”

    That never-give-up attitude rubbed off on Crawford as he began coming up with fundraisers for the organization including a video game tournament, even a Penny Wars competition. Crawford has had conversations about his work with Uplifting Athletes with Coach Bible, and Wayne knows Bible is appreciative of the work the team is doing for others who are fighting leukemia.

    “I feel like I’ve done something meaningful and tangible, more than just my efforts on the field,” Crawford explains. “I’ve done something that's going to last longer than football.”

    Crawford feels proud to be the chapter’s first president and hopes the groundwork that has been laid will have a lasting impact. He’s ready to pass the torch to other teammates and continue to build awareness for the rare disease.

    “Hopefully, we can one day raise enough money to see change,” Crawford says.

    Crawford graduated last May and continues to stay on campus to finish up some graduate classes. He’s landed a job and is ready for the next chapter of his life. Because of Crawford’s work, others have hope about the next chapter of their lives as well.

    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. 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.).

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