Quarterback Named Rare Disease Champion
March 1, 2010
As a Red Devil athlete at Dickinson, Mitchell continued his football fundraising efforts, collecting more than $95,000 for his cause.
The competition was fierce. The other athletes were from Division I universities, any one of which could easily have defeated the Division III quarterback. Nevertheless, Dickinson College senior Ian Mitchell had received the very thing he was being recognized for giving—help. The Dickinson College community rallied around their hero, everyone from teammates, classmates, alumni, faculty, staff, parents and the Carlisle community. But it didn't stop there. Support came from every corner of the country including other Division III colleges and universities, members of the Centennial Conference and liberal arts colleges throughout the nation—an unprecedented groundswell of support that culminated in Mitchell being voted the Rare Disease Champion.
More than 20,000 votes were cast with Mitchell collecting 8,562, or 41 percent. Another noteworthy aspect was the more than 80 comments from voters about Mitchell and his efforts on behalf of families struggling with cancer.
Uplifting Athletes, a national nonprofit organization that links college football with research on rare diseases, sponsors the award. The Rare Disease Champion award recognizes a leader in sports who has realized his potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community. The other nominees this year were in football programs at Penn State, Clemson, Villanova and Tulsa universities. Last year’s recipient was the American Football Coaches Association.
Anyone who knows Mitchell is aware of how he has used his abilities on the football field to assist those facing cancer, especially children. Inspired by friends and family members who suffered from the disease, he began his fundraising efforts in high school, generating $10,000 in donations based on total yards he gained rushing, passing and receiving. As a Red Devil athlete at Dickinson, he continued his football fundraising efforts, collecting more than $95,000. Seventy-five percent of rare diseases affect children.
Mitchell’s dedication to helping others is what inspired so many people to vote for him as this year’s Rare Disease Champion. Dickinson College President William G. Durden, in one of his many e-mails to rally his fellow Dickinsonians, asked everyone to show their strong support of athletes who contribute to the community. Dickinson was the only liberal-arts college to have a player nominated this year. The college, home to around 2,300 undergraduate students, is known for its emphasis on helping others throughout one’s college years as a foundation for a lifelong commitment to public service. Similarly, Uplifting Athletes, through its college-based chapters, aims to give current football student-athletes an opportunity to gain practical job skills while learning how to leverage their assets and abilities to make a positive and lasting impact.
You can read more about Ian Mitchell in this Extra Features story.