Running Backs Coach Ron Brown is proud of C.J. Zimmerer’s leadership.
By Randy York
On behalf of 30 million Americans affected by a rare disease, the Uplifting Athletes organization Saturday announced that former Nebraska fullback C.J. Zimmerer, now a full-time probation officer in Omaha, is the 2014 Rare Disease Champion Award winner. “C.J. continues a strong tradition of selfless service to others by using his platform as a college player to expand and promote the mission of inspiring the rare disease community with hope,” Uplifting Athletes Executive Director Scott Shirley said.
A second-team Academic All-American and a member of college football’s well publicized Good Works Team, Zimmerer will be presented his Champion Trophy at the Maxwell Club Award’s Gala on March 14, 2014, at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, where he will join other Maxwell Award winners that include Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, Pitt Outland Trophy winner Aaron Donald and Duke Coach David Cutcliffe. NFL winners who will be recognized at the same banquet include Denver Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning and Philadelphia Eagle Coach Chip Kelly.
Zimmerer became the sixth Rare Disease Champion from a field of finalists that included Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, Texas quarterback Case McCoy, Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore and Utah linebacker/defensive end Trevor Reilly.
A public online vote decided the 2014 award with more than 15,000 total votes cast. Zimmerer becomes the second Husker to win the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Trophy. Former Nebraska and current Cincinnati Bengal running back Rex Burkhead won the award in 2012. Other winners are American Football Coaches Association Executive Director Grant Teaff (2009); Dickinson College quarterback Ian Mitchell (2010); Princeton running back Jordan Culbreath (2011); and Penn State offensive lineman Eric Shrive (2013).
Uplifting Athletes presents the Rare Disease Champion Award annually to a college football leader who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community. The Philadelphia-based Maxwell Football Club, founded in 1935, is involved not only in football at all levels, but also the community in general, not just once a year, but all year. The organization is dedicated to the concept that “young people are the potential of this nation.”
“C.J. certainly maximizes his potential as a leader and will continue to be one of America’s best young leaders in an area that truly needs leadership,” Nebraska Associate Athletic Director Keith Zimmer said. “C.J. is part of what we call the Rex Burkhead effect, and Nebraskans are blessed that two of the first six Champion Award winners are Huskers. We’ve built a culture that reaches out to others, and we believe an honor like the Champion Award will continue to grow in stature because leadership seems to multiply every year. C.J. is and will continue to be a positive role model for student-athletes nationwide.”
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