Approximately 700 participants took part in the first-ever Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes Road Race Sunday morning. The event was presented by the Lincoln Track Club and all proceeds support pediatric brain cancer research nationally.
Uplifting Athletes is a national nonprofit organization aligning college football with rare diseases. Each campus chapter is run by football student-athletes and works to elevate its chosen rare disease as a national priority through outreach, research, education and advocacy.
Several members of the Cornhusker football team were on hand to show their support for the cause and to cheer on the runners during both the one-mile fun run and the main event 5k race. The football program is allowed to put on one event each year to raise funds and Sunday's race was a highly successful debut.
"To finally get this event in the books and have all these people come out and support our cause is awesome," said senior fullback and founder of the Nebraska UA chapter, C. J. Zimmerer. "If we had one runner it would have been worth it, but to have such a great turnout makes it even better."
The Nebraska UA chapter is focused on battling glioma, a form of pediatric brain cancer, as a result of the relationship formed between former Husker Rex Burkhead and 7-year-old cancer survivor Jack Hoffman, the inspiration behind the Nebraska chapter who was also in attendance.
Hoffman's friendship with Burkhead launched a campaign for the UA "Rare Disease Champion" award that rallied the entire state and much of the country around "Team Jack" and their fight against pediatric brain cancer.
"It really shows how the power of sports can be used as a platform to bring awareness to a cause, in this case, pediatric brain cancer," stated NU Life Skills Coordinator Jessie Gardner. "The support of the Lincoln Track Club and Uplifting Athletes was huge and we are very excited for the future."
Nebraska Football Uplifting Athletes is a Recognized Student Organization at UNL and is one of 21 chapters nationally. UA was officially launched in 2007, and Nebraska became the 14th school to form a chapter beginning in 2012.
The Huskers have designated their Oct. 5 home football contest against Illinois as Pediatric Brain Cancer Awareness Day.
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