In Thoughts and Actions, Success With Honor Helps Fuel Lift For Life

There are plenty of ways that the Penn State football team embodies the Success With Honor mantra year-round. From volunteering in the community to excelling in the classroom, there are plenty of ways to see the Nittany Lions’ impact.

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The latest figurative example arrives this weekend, serving as another option for folks visiting the area for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. You can see this philanthropic spirit first-hand — or better yet, get involved — during Penn State football’s annual Lift For Life event. The intra-squad competition is scheduled from 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Penn State Lacrosse Field.

 

Players will be available for autographs and photos afterward, and the team will also conduct a children’s clinic during the event, for $15 per child. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children, to support the Penn State Chapter of Uplifting Athletes. The organization started at Penn State in 2007 and has now expanded to become a national group, with each university chapter adopting one of the approximate 7,000 rare diseases. Fans can make a donation to the Penn State Chapter and Lift for Life by visiting the Penn State Chapter fundraising site at give.upliftingathletes.org/psulift2016 or by sending a donation to PJ Mullen, Director of Player Development and Community Relations at 201 Lasch Football Building, University Park, Pa 16802.

 

Penn State supports kidney disease, with football letterman and two-time graduate Scott Shirley creating Lift For Life in 2003 with a couple teammates during his playing days. Shirley’s father was diagnosed with kidney cancer and given a few months to live; and when Shirley found out there wasn't much national support for the disease, that’s when he took action.

 

The event has grown from Penn State’s chapter raising $13,000 in its first year for the Kidney Cancer Association to national organizations making an economic impact of $400 million on the rare disease community. Penn State’s chapter alone has raised $1.12 million, after last year’s event resulted in $120,000. Shirley also plays a role in the literal involvement of Success With Honor — which according to its website — is a non-profit organization network of people making an impact through communication, collaboration, and promotion of charitable endeavors. Our mission is to promote and support charitable endeavors as well as to inspire others to “Get in The Game!”

 

After meeting with Shirley, the group first volunteered at Lift For Life in 2011; and a few years ago, began spearheading the overall volunteer efforts for the event. Executive Vice President Greg Walker sits on the board of directors and said the leadership role allows the group to have some ownership. Success With Honor has taken those extra responsibilities to heart, with the help of Athletics. On the day before last year’s event, Walker and the group met with Mullen; they toured Lasch Building and Beaver Stadium, and also coordinated their plans for the following day. It’s those extra blue-and-white details that make a difference, Walker said, while noting that people who want to contribute have no shortage of volunteer opportunities in their own communities. What sets Success With Honor apart, he said, is the ability to make an impact not just for your community, but also your alma mater.

 

“When you can also tie volunteering to your love of Penn State and be around other Penn Staters, it’s a win-win,” Walker said. “That’s what we’re trying to share with the rest of the Penn State world — you can do good and also have experiences you might not otherwise get.”

 

For example, Walker and Bob Taylor, the founder and president of Success With Honor, have met with notable Penn Staters such as Franco Harris and Jay Paterno, who took notice with what Walker and Taylor’s group are doing. Taylor and Walker — both Penn State graduates — and all the other Success With Honor volunteers will also receive an up-close look at Lift For Life, seeing everything unfold first-hand while contributing. Success With Honor oversees set-up and clean up responsibilities for the event, as well as admissions, concessions, merchandise sales and also helps with the kids combine. 

 

Building relationships is critical, Walker said, and he and the group will connect with volunteers during Lift For Life. However, they also understand their role. If someone wants to get involved, Walker said they’ll wait until afterward to reach out and make a connection. Reason being, they want to serve Penn State’s football team and the community during Lift For Life, and they can make the appropriate outreach efforts later. They’ve made good progress so far, even receiving some advice from Shirley. He knows what it’s like to build a non-profit organization from the ground-up, and Walker said he’s shared his experiences, along with how to handle some potential obstacles. Hurdles aren’t just probable, they’re going to happen, for anybody. What gives Walker and his organization confidence is the belief that they’re working with the right crowd — people who love Penn State.

 

“From my perspective, it reaffirms the whole reason we started this,” Walker said. “We feel that Penn State is a special place, and Penn State alumni and fans are special people. It was about not only a love of the university and athletics, it was also about a culture that winning was important, but it was not the most important thing.

 

“Playing fairly and winning with honor and integrity is what Penn State is all about. It shows in the culture of the people we meet. We’ve met some tremendous people, and it doesn’t surprise me that they’re all Penn Staters.”

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