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Penn State Football Players Raise the Bar at Lift for Life

The 2015 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts was in full swing Saturday morning. But, in a northeast corner of the Penn State campus, the football team was in the middle of a workout under the hot sun. This workout was a little different than their normal conditioning routine.

The offense competed against the defense in events such as sled pull relays, deadlifts, tugs-of-war and other strength exercises.


Fans, families and alumni packed the stands at the Penn State Lacrosse Field for the 2015 Lift for Life to watch the football team push the limits of their strength, all for a good cause.

Lift for Life is an annual event organized by the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes to raise money and awareness for the Kidney Cancer Association.

Scott Shirley, a former Penn State football player and the founder of Uplifting Athletes, organized the first Lift for Life in 2003 as a way to raise money and awareness for kidney cancer. Shirley’s father was battling kidney cancer at the time.

Today, Uplifting Athletes is a national organization that is represented by at least one chapter in every football conference across the country. Each chapter supports research and awareness for a rare disease, which is any disease that affects 200,000 or fewer people annually.

Saturday’s Lift for Life raised $119,303 for the Kidney Cancer Association. In 2014, the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes passed the $1 million mark for total funds raised. The group is the largest annual donor to the Kidney Cancer Association.

“I think it was amazing,” Carrie Konosky, the vice president of development for the Kidney Cancer Association, said of the event.  

Football players organize Lift for Life and other fundraising events throughout the year. Ben Kline, a linebacker and the president of the Penn State Uplifting Athletes chapter spoke to fans at the end of the event.

“I want to thank all of you for coming out and your continuing support, especially the parents of the players,” said Kline. “I know a lot of you make the trip for this and it’s great to see you all out here in the middle of the summer.”

The offense beat the defense in a close match of 31-30. Following the competition, the players held an autograph session for the fans in attendance as children ran across the field and interacted with the players.

“It was awesome,” Shirley said. “This is the best organized event I’ve ever been to.”