The honor is presented annually to recognize a leader in the world of college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community. More than 30 million Americans are affected by rare diseases.
Shrive was one of seven national finalists for the Fifth Annual Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award, with fan voting determining the winner. He will be presented the Rare Disease Champion Sculpture at the Maxwell Football Club's Awards Gala on March 1. The following day, Shrive will be honored at the Uplifting Athletes Gridiron Gala in Harrisburg.
"Winning the Rare Disease Champion Award is a great honor," Shrive said. "But in the end, the real winners are the people affected by kidney cancer who I was able to help with the money I was able and will continue to raise. I've taken marketing classes and have learned about adding new strategies to approach new donors. I'm constantly thinking of new people to ask for help."
Shrive's quest to fight kidney cancer and eventually beat the rare disease became personal in 2011 when an uncle was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
"We're trying to save lives," Shrive said. "I know my family is appreciative of my efforts."
Shrive recently was elected president of Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter after serving as vice president the past two years. He has been a significant contributor in the planning of the chapter's events to benefit the Kidney Cancer Association. The most well-known event for Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter is the Penn State Lift for Life, a strength and conditioning challenge among football squad members held annually in July.
Shrive has raised $69,500 for the Penn State Lift For Life during his four summers on campus, including approximately $32,000 in 2012, helping boost the total to a record $110,374.00. During the 10 years of the Penn State Lift For Life, members of the Nittany Lion football team have raised in excess of $700,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association.
Shrive says he's hoping by the time his experience as a Penn State student-athlete concludes, he'll be able to say he raised $100,000 to fight kidney cancer.
"Eric is a champion in every sense of the word," Executive Director and Uplifting Athletes founder Scott Shirley said. "His efforts are truly selfless. When he arrived on campus his motivation was simply to get involved in something bigger than him. Once it became personal, he inspired everyone around him with his relentless pursuit. We can all rally around Eric's leadership and make a difference."
Shrive played in every game last season, helping Coach Bill O'Brien's Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record (6-2 Big Ten), leading the Big Ten in total offense (437.0 ypg) and ranking second in scoring (32.6 ppg) in conference games. A fifth-year senior in 2013, Shrive was an all-state lineman at West Scranton High School.
Previous winners of the Rare Disease Champion Award include American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Executive Director Grant Teaff (2009); Dickinson College quarterback Ian Mitchell (2010); Princeton running back Jordan Culbreath (2011) and Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead (2012).
Uplifting Athletes is a nonprofit organization uniting college football teams under the common goal of raising awareness and funds in the fight against rare diseases. A rare disease is defined as one that affects less than 200,000 people. Because of their rare designation, these diseases often receive little or no funding to support awareness and research to treat or cure illnesses. With more than 7,000 rare diseases in existence, the organization impacts more than 30-million Americans.
Source: PSU Athletics