Randy York's N-Sider
Count Spencer Long among those who see Uplifting Athletes as the ultimate off-the-field learning experience ... an opportunity that gives collegiate athletes the chance to donate time to benefit others and still get big returns in yourself. “It’s a student-run organization where we all come together to support an important cause,” Long said, adding his support for the way his teammates have chosen to help tackle pediatric brain cancer together. “Rare diseases like that don’t get very much funding, so we decided to take on the cause and see what we could do to help. All outreach opportunities are important, but Uplifting Athletes gives us a chance to organize something, work together and learn what it’s like to manage a major project. It’s one of the greatest learning experiences we’ve had, and we’ve done it together.
“C.J. Zimmerer did a great job as our first president,” said Long, a First-Team All-Big Ten and Second-Team All-America offensive lineman. “It takes time and research to figure out what you can do and what you can’t do on this campus. We learned the importance of compliance and found the right way to collaborate with the Lincoln Track Club last summer.”
Zimmerer was named one of college football’s top 22 players on the State Farm Good Works Team announced earlier this week, and Long believes Zimmerer’s role in launching Nebraska’s first chapter of Uplifting Athletes was pivotal in receiving such an honor. “We had a great turnout and raised some serious money for pediatric brain cancer, and things are really starting to pick up after that experience,” Long said.
“I’ve always cared about kids with any kind of illness, and it doesn’t feel like work when you try to help out,” Long added. “It came very easy for all of us on the football team to choose pediatric brain cancer as the cause we wanted to support because we all knew the Jack Hoffman Story through Rex Burkhead. You don’t realize how much you can help until you commit yourself. When you see the payoff, it makes you want to help that much more. Those sick kids don’t really know what all is going on, but they fight really hard, and I love being able to help them in any way I can.”
When a team jointly volunteers to promote the same cause, it helps everyone keep life in perspective. “We all get stressed on what we think are big things, but they’re all really small when you compare them to kids fighting brain cancer,” Long said. “Football is more than a game. It’s a life experience and keeps you thinking about the bigger picture. It pushes you to fight and give everything you can.”
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