Ryan Lindsey has always had a passion for football. “It’s just something I’ve always done. It’s like second nature,” he says.
But recently, the Boston College wide receiver discovered a new passion off the field – raising money to tackle a rare form of bone cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma. Lindsey first heard about Ewing’s sarcoma in May, when his teammate, senior linebacker Mark Herzlich, was sidelined with the debilitating disease.
“It was kind of a shock that he got it, and nobody really knew too much about it,” says the 21-year-old New Jersey native.
Determined to do something, Lindsey started the Boston College chapter of Uplifting Athletes in Herzlich’s honor. The national non-profit organization, which Lindsey discovered through a high school friend, teaches college football players how to use their natural skills and abilities to benefit a rare disease (one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans). Other chapters include Penn State University, Ohio State University, University of Maryland and Colgate University.
In July, Lindsey and his Eagles teammates kicked off their first annual fundraiser, a weightlifting competition called Lift for Life. The players literally used their muscles to raise $30,000 in 30 days. All of the proceeds benefited Ewing’s sarcoma research.
“It really exceeded our expectations of what we thought we were going to do,” says Lindsey.
But the event wouldn’t be the last time the players would score big. Since the start of the football season, the Eagles continue to receive tens of thousands of dollars in donations from schools across the country. The team has now raised nearly $100,000 for the Sarcoma Foundation of America.
“I’m blown away to be honest,” says Scott Shirley, Executive Director of Uplifting Athletes. “That’s more money raised in any one calendar year than any other chapter.” Shirley adds the team’s accomplishments are a testament of hope, inspiring people to give even in a tough economy.
“It’s pretty incredible,” says Herzlich. “A lot of people come up with ideas that sound great, but actually following up with it… I know [Lindsey] did it because we’re a family.”
After months of radiation and chemotherapy, Herzlich is now cancer free. He’s even expected to play football again next season.
For Lindsey, just knowing his actions could help more people like his teammate is a victory he says far exceeds any on the gridiron. “As long as I’m here, even when I leave, I’ll do whatever I can to help out, keep it going. No reason to stop here.”