Lift For Life Ready for Liftoff

A member of the Nittany Lion football team and one of the new leaders of Penn State's Lift For Life Challenge explains why the players have embraced the event and asks PSU fans to put their collective muscle behind a great cause.

After the 2005 Penn State Lift For Life Challenge, LFL founders and former Nittany Lion football players Scott Shirley, Damone Jones and Dave Costlow called on two current members of the team to take over leadership at the local level. Quarterback Kevin Suhey and I enthusiastically accepted that charge.

Although Scott will still serve the local event in an advisory capacity, the management roles are now in our hands. With that in mind, we will strive to build upon the amazing growth Lift For Life has seen since its inception.

For those not familiar with LFL, it began in 2003 as a way to raise money and awareness for the fight against kidney cancer. The founders opened our program's grueling midsummer strength and conditioning competition to the public, and asked fans to donate what they could for a chance to see their favorite athletes in action.

In three years, the event raised more than $80,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association. As the nation's only student-athlete-run philanthropy, we are extremely proud to have come so far so fast.

But we think that is just the start. While keeping the vision of the founding officers in sight, Kevin and I, along with our teammates, are striving for new goals. With the support of the Penn State community, we are confident we can reach them.

The first target: topping the record $31,000-plus LFL raised in 2005. We would love for you to help us get there. This year's event is being be today at Holuba Hall from 2-7 p.m., and we are encouraging all Penn State fans to turn out to support the cause.

If you can't, please visit our web site and see how you can help our cause there: You can get there through this link.

Some may wonder why management of the event was passed to a second generation of leaders. Well, Lift For Life has always been about student-athletes taking the initiative to give something back to the community. We are thankful for the opportunity to be able to do just that.

It is also a good way to keep the event vibrant. It is much easier for Kevin and I to reach out to younger players in the program, athletes who might not understand the tradition, than it would be for the founders to do the same thing. We can tell you excitement about the event is as high as ever within the team.

Starting with the initial LFL, player participation has been outstanding - from hard-working walk-ons you rarely see on Saturdays to established stars like Tamba Hali, Paul Posluszny and Michael Robinson. Part of the reason for the enthusiasm is the buzz that infuses Lift For Life. We have carved out our niche among our school's strong charity events.

But more importantly, we love Lift For Life because it is a part of us.

We have been taught from day one at Penn State that pride, tradition and excellence are the hallmarks of the program. Lift For Life is an extension of that philosophy. We have learned that if we pull together, we can make a difference on the field and in the community.

We receive so much that we are obliged to give back. Helping the Kidney Cancer Association is one of the ways we like to do it.

It is also truly a humbling experience. As major-college football players, we sometimes think there is not much that can take us down. But Lift For Life reminds us that the challenges we meet are nothing compared to the hardships endured by some of the real heroes in our community - people who are touched by kidney cancer as patients, survivors or family members of victims, yet keep spreading a message of hope.

Which is another one of our goals - to let people impacted by kidney cancer know that there is hope. The event is here now, and you can help. If you would like to do so, please stop by Holuba Hall today or visit our web site: You can get there through this link.

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