UCF Linebacker Wins Rare Disease Champion Award


On Tuesday, University of Central Florida (UCF) senior linebacker Shaquem Griffin became the 10th winner of the prestigious Rare Disease Champion Award.

Every year, the nonprofit organization Uplifting Athletes presents the Rare Disease Champion Award 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.

On Tuesday, University of Central Florida (UCF) senior linebacker Shaquem Griffin became the 10th winner of the prestigious award.

Griffin earned more votes than any of the other three finalists — Zack Mohoney of Syracuse, Casey O’Brien of Minnesota, and Jaqwis Dancy of Louisiana Tech – in a public online contest that began in December and included more than 10,000 total votes.

Griffin, a lifelong Florida resident, was born with amniotic band syndrome, a group of congenital birth defects believed to be caused by entrapment of fetal parts in fibrous amniotic bands while in utero. By the time he turned 4 years old, the decision was made to amputate his hand.

“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 in a press release. “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.”

On January 1, Griffin’s UCF Knights defeated the Auburn Tigers in the 2018 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. He had 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks, leading his team in both categories. This season, the linebacker was nominated for the Allstate Good Works Team that honors student-athletes for their community service. Additionally, he was nominated for the Butkus, Nagurski and Bednarik awards, each of which recognize players for their performance on the field. In 2016, he was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Griffin currently works with Limbitless Solutions, a team at UCF that assists children who have a need for prosthetic limbs. He 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.

For more inspiring stories from within the rare disease community, follow Rare Disease Report on Facebook and Twitter.

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