That most impressive of milestones is right on the horizon for Penn State’s Lift For Life.
The football team’s signature charitable event is entering its 12th year and the school’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes is creeping ever closer to the $1 million mark in funds raised for the Kidney Cancer Association.
Penn State’s most recent published estimate has the total at over $825,000, so hitting seven figures this summer isn’t going to be easy.
So the players running the event have a plan.
Today’s event — which runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Penn State’s lacrosse field, down the hill from Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center — is more focused on fan interaction than before.
While the players will still be going through the usual grueling gauntlet of a workout — everything from conventional bench presses and dead lifts to flipping huge tractor tires — they also will be running two clinics for kids.
After the event, the players will host an extended meet-and-greet with fans in attendance, taking photos and signing autographs.
“It’s going to be a great event,” linebacker Ben Kline, the president of Penn State’s chapter, said in a video preview promoting the day. “We’re going to have a great workout like we’ve had in years past, but we’re really focusing on fan interaction this year and trying to make it a better experience for fans.
“We couldn’t have it done it without them, and we think this should be a day to show appreciation for the fans.”
Admission for adults is $10. Penn State students and children under 12 get in free, though it costs $10 for a kids to participate in one of the clinics.
All proceeds go to the Kidney Cancer Association, which Lift For Life has supported since its inception in 2003. The event’s primary founder, former Nittany Lions receiver Scott Shirley, lost his father to kidney cancer.
Kline has some sizable shoes to fill as the chapter’s new president, replacing former West Scranton and Penn State lineman Eric Shrive, who raised into six figures on his own.
“Ben’s a great kid. A very hard-worker, a very likeable guy,” Shrive said when his successor was named. “A team guy. A Penn State guy. Going forward, Uplifting Athletes is in great hands, and I’m going to help him in any way possible.”
From the current roster, TE Adam Breneman, TE Jesse James, RB Akeel Lynch, RB Deron Thompson and TE Brent Wilkerson are all involved as officers with Uplifting Athletes, helping Kline organize and run the event.
Together with many of their teammates, they have been building an audience throughout the week. Players decorated posters with kids on the lawn at Old Main, with the fruits of their labor to be put on display around the lacrosse field today.
Friday had the group teaming up with the local minor-league baseball team, the State College Spikes, to raise money and hand out fliers promoting the event.
“We all work really hard on it,” Kline said. “It’s something we take a lot of pride in and really enjoy doing. It’s a really good opportunity for us to give back, and the players get behind it.
“We’re nearing the $1 million mark, and we’re trying to break that this year. I think we’re going to be close and have a shot to do it. That’s a huge testament to what we do here and how seriously we take giving back.”