Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Last Friday night, Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich and defensive end Jim Ramella hit the town for a teammate's birthday. It seemed like a typical weekend in Chestnut Hill, and that's exactly how Herzlich -- who was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma -- is trying to keep it.
"Going out and talking to him, you wouldn't know that he has cancer, you really wouldn't," said Ramella. "He's totally normal about it. He doesn't mope around and feel sorry for himself. He'll have a good time. From what I've heard, everything is going well with his treatments."
That doesn't mean Herzlich -- and others like him with rare diseases -- don't need your support. This afternoon is a good chance to show it, as the Boston College chapter of Uplifting Athletes will host its inaugural event, the "Lift For Life," at 6 p.m. Fans are encouraged to attend this strength and conditioning competition to show their support. At least 60 football players are expected to participate, including Montel Harris, Wes Davis, Matt Tennant, Rich Gunnell and incoming freshmen. Donations can be made online at www.upliftingathletes.org.
"That will be a great event," Ramella said. "Each player has an online site to raise money and I think we're close to $10,000. And then the event is pretty much like a strong-man competition. There will be about six or eight different events people can come and watch. It's really good for us because it's a way to help our Mark. What else can we do? It's good to do it for him."
Herzlich hopes to be able to attend.
"It's humbling for me to learn that not only are my teammates supporting me, but that my situation has inspired them to do something that will help a lot of people facing similar challenges," Herzlich said in a prepared statement. "I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at Lift For Life and personally thanking them."
Uplifting Athletes chapters are run by current football players on college campuses across the country, including Colgate University, Maryland, Ohio State and Penn State -- each benefiting a rare disease relevant to their team.
Current Eagles responsible for planning their chapter's Lift For Life event include Ryan Lindsey, James McCluskey, Damik Scafe, Billy Flutie, Thomas Claiborne, Wes Davis, Mark Spinney, Marcellus Bowman and Darius Bagan. That's exactly the kind of leadership this team needs right now, so congrats to those players who took the initiative to get this event going.
Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said he hopes Herzlich will continue to be an encouraging presence throughout the season.
"Whatever his doctors and his medical situation will allow, and his physical status will allow, we want him around as much as possible," Spaziani said. "I know he wants to be around."