In front of hundreds of fans at the lacrosse field, the Penn State Football defensive squad beat the offense in the 11th Annual Lift For Life competition benefiting Uplifting Athletes 160-122. No one cared about that score, though. The team raised over $133,500 for kidney cancer research and is on pace to shatter last year’s record.
A year-long effort, Lift For Life culminated tonight in a series of strength competitions including a keg carry and tug of war. Things kicked off with a round of applause for Coach Fitzgerald who noted, “2013 is a special team.”
Earlier in the day, Eric Shrive, president of Lift For Life, spoke to the media about the event and its future, along with Adam Gress, vice president, and Ty Howle, director of operations.
“This is a special thing we’re doing here at Penn State,” Howle said. “I can’t imagine doing anything better.” He also mentioned that the event has now become a Penn State Football tradition, considering its been going on for more than a decade and over $800,000 has been raised.
Gress, a senior, said he’s been hitting the weights this year harder than ever before. He’s glad to see that Penn State’s efforts have been helping to build Uplifting Athletes around the country.
A personal touch was made this year when these three players met Elliot Narber and his parents, a local family who was part of the VIP crowd this year. 8-year-old Elliot suffers from a rare disease in which his esophagus often rejects the food he ingests. Inspired last year by his favorite player Derek Day, Elliot and his parents created their own event, a kids’ version of Lift For Life which was held just a few weeks ago. It raised over $300 and, hopefully, will be bigger and better next year.
“Seeing Elliot and what he goes through helps us to be more passionate,” Gress said. “There’s a lot of people in his situation looking for answers. That’s why we’re here — to push for answers and to push for a cure.”
Needless to say, Elliot enjoyed the event and was running around afterwards for autographs from his favorite players.
Although this year ended without the ever-famous truck pull, the tug-of-war was once again the main event. By the third round, the entire football team was on either side, rallying each other to pull harder — defense, though, came in the clutch and took the win.
Scott Shirley, who co-founded Lift For Life ten years ago, spoke about how his team ended up carrying on the tradition and mentioned former players Kevin Suhey and Brett Brackett who took the reigns when he graduated.
To see the amount of money raised this year and the amount of fans, Shirley simply stated, “For once in my life, I am speechless.”
Update July 13: The preliminary final total has been revealed as $133,506, shattering the previous record.