Feb. 22, 2011
UCLA running back Derrick Coleman has been named one of five finalists for the 2011 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award. The honor is presented annually to recognize a leader in the world of college football who has realized their potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community. More than 30 million Americans are affected by rare diseases.
The 3rd annual award winner will be determined by an online vote ending Monday, February 28th at noon (EST). The Champion will be announced on Global Rare Disease Day (February 28th) at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. Uplifting Athletes will also honor the winner at a luncheon at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana at a later date. Previous winners include American Football Coaches Association Executive Director, Grant Teaff (2009); and Dickinson College Quarterback, Ian Mitchell (2010).
Coleman's mom was concerned when his speech wasn't progressing as a small child. It was determined that Derrick was almost completely deaf. A missing gene was to blame and as a result, Derrick was fitted for hearing aids. His lack of hearing hasn't hindered Coleman in the least little bit. He was UCLA's second leading rusher this past season. Coleman knows he can be a role model and ever since his sophomore year of high school, he's spoken to groups about the challenges he's faced. "My message is `there's no excuse as to why they can't succeed,'" Coleman says. "If I can do it, they too can do it."
The other 2011 finalists: North Carolina State offensive coordinator Dana Bible; Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill; Princeton running back Jordan Culbreath; and Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien. 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:www.upliftingathletes.org/vote.
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.).