Credit: Florida State Sports Information
An upcoming fundraising event will be announced in the coming weeks
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State senior tight end Kevin Haplea won’t play football this year after a season-ending knee injury this summer, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a difference maker for the Seminoles off the field.
Haplea recently started the FSU chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a national non-profit organization aligning college football with rare diseases. Each campus chapter is run by football student-athletes and works to elevate its chosen rare disease as a national priority through outreach, research, education and advocacy.
The FSU chapter of Uplifting Athletes will battle a disease close to home for the Seminole family – Fanconi anemia.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher’s son Ethan is fighting Fanconi anemia, a rare but serious blood disease that affects thousands of children each year.
“The inspiration for our Uplifting Athletes Chapter at Florida State is our head coach Jimbo Fisher’s son Ethan, who is fighting Fanconi anemia,” Haplea said. “I thought it was a situation that made perfect sense, not only to help spread Uplifting Athletes Chapters across the country, but because for us it’s a cause that really hits home with our head coach directly being affected.”
FSU’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes will work closely with Kidz1stFund to raise awareness and research funds to find a cure for Fanconi anemia.
“You can take the platform that you have with athletics and really turn it into something great and Kevin has done that – he is a tremendous young man,” Fisher said. “That’s what we try to preach here – we are athletes, we want to play ball, we want to get a good education, and it’s just as important to be a good person.”
Fisher and his wife, Candi, started Kidz1stFund in 2011 to speed up research and national awareness about the disease.
“First of all, I want to say how proud I am to be associated with such a wonderful group of players who understand the importance of helping others,” said Candi Fisher, the chairwoman of Kidz1stFund. “When Kevin told us about Uplifting Athletes and his desire to establish a chapter at FSU, I was humbled that he thought the obvious recipient should be Kidz1stFund. Uplifting Athletes is a wonderful organization that gives student athletes the opportunity to unite and raise money for any rare disease that has a direct impact on their lives. It speaks volumes to me about how important this cause and my family, especially Ethan, are to them, and we are so blessed and grateful that they continue to support our family in our fight against Fanconi anemia. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”
Haplea, a social science major with a concentration in public administration, got involved with Uplifting Athletes while at Penn State, where he played football and studied before transferring to Florida State in 2012.
“I think it just really goes a long way in doing something for other people,” Haplea said. “Especially using our platform as student-athletes and Florida State football players to help people that are kind of overlooked.”
An upcoming fundraising event by FSU Uplifting Athletes will be announced in the coming weeks.
Other ACC schools with Uplifting Athletes Chapters include Boston College, Notre Dame, Syracuse, NC State and Maryland.
Uplifting Athletes’ network of university chapters brings the mission of Uplifting Athletes to life.
As part of the outreach program, each university chapter is run by current football student-athletes and adopts a rare disease that has personal meaning to their team. These rare diseases affect less than 200,000 Americans and consequently little attention is paid to them.
College football players in each university chapter hold special events, fundraising campaigns or awareness drives to attract fans and media, making their chosen rare disease more popular and generating new money for research.