The Knights’ senior outlasted a field of finalists that included: Minnesota holder Casey O’Brien, Louisiana Tech running back Jaqwis Dancy and Syracuse quarterback Zack Mahoney.
“Congratulations to Shaquem on becoming this season’s Rare Disease Champion. His uplifting story embodies the spirit of all the finalists and nominees,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Scott Shirley said. “All of our champions have had a unique way of leveraging their personal experiences to make a positive impact on the rare disease community and I’m proud of Shaquem leading by example.”
The Rare Disease Champion Award is presented annually by Uplifting Athletes to a leader in the world of college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.
Griffin will be presented the 2018 Rare Disease Champion trophy at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 9th at The Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City.
A Florida native, Griffin was born with the rare disorder amniotic band syndrome. As a youngster, Griffin tried to “play through” the pain. But, the pain became unbearable and the decision was made to remove his left hand when he was four years old
In every phase of life, Griffin refused to let his rare disease to slow him down or hold him back — especially on the football field as a Knight. The star linebacker was named the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. This season he was nominated for the Allstate Good Works Team that honors football student-athletes and won the Senior CLASS Award for his contributions on and off the field.
Griffin works with Limbitless Solutions at UCF to help children who have a need for prosthetic limbs. He also speaks to children with disabilities of all types as often as possible, and he performs a great deal of community service work not tied to his particular rare disease.
A nonprofit organization founded in 2007, Uplifting Athletes inspires the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport. A rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans and typically lacks financial incentive to make and market new treatments. With a network of university chapters run by current college football student-athletes, Uplifting Athletes has established 22 chapters with Division I football programs across the country. Overall since its inception Uplifting Athletes has had an economic impact of more than $400 million on the rare disease community. For more information about Uplifting Athletes, visit http://www.upliftingathletes.org.