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Rare Diseases

How One Pro Football Player Is Uplifting Those With Rare Diseases

Sterling Hofrichter, Photo: Courtesy of Uplifting Athletes

Sterling Hofrichter may best be known as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, but he’s a lot more than a talented athlete. His dedication to helping others and his support of Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and funds for research into rare diseases, has set him apart.

“I believe that because I play in the National Football League (NFL), I have a higher voice than others,” Hofrichter says. “It’s a duty to spread awareness.”

Rare challenges

A rare disease is defined as an affliction affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans. These diseases often lack resources because of a lack of financial incentives.

“I was inspired to advocate for rare diseases through Uplifting Athletes by Rob Long and Syracuse University,” Hofrichter says. Long was also a punter at Syracuse, and he was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer in 2010.

“Hearing his story and knowing how quickly he went from preparing for the NFL to fighting for his life was heartbreaking,” Hofrichter says.

Joining the cause

That personal connection drove Hofrichter to be an ambassador for Uplifting Athletes, participating in the Lift for Life events at Syracuse, as well as the Reps for Rare Disease Program as an NFL prospect. He wore Uplifting Athletes cleats for My Cause My Cleats this past season, and he was part of the Uplifting Athletes Kicking Rare Diseases campaign.

“I’m continuing to spread awareness every year,” he says. “Uplifting Athletes should be more of a year-round topic. Rare diseases never stop, and neither should we.”

Hofrichter knows that no one achieves greatness alone. “I’ve had many people who have supported me throughout my career,” he says. “My family is definitely at the top of the list. I’ve also been super lucky to have amazing coaches throughout my life. I don’t think I’d be where I am now without each and every one of them.”

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