Mission Statement
  Event Description
  Our Cause
Lift For Life® History


Lift For Life is a unique non-profit organization founded by Penn State Football student-athletes. It is run by a diverse group of students, student-athletes, and community volunteers who are committed to leveraging the power and appeal of sports to promote awareness and raise funds for under-served charities, such as the Kidney Cancer Association (KCA).

The Lift For Life story began in fall of 2002 when Penn State Football student-athlete Scott Shirley discovered that his father Don was diagnosed with kidney cancer. When he turned to the team for support, Scott soon realized that three of his teammates also had fathers battling this deadly disease. The Shirley family struggled to find answers and eventually turned to the KCA for help, but learned that even though it does not respond to standard first line treatments, limited funds are allocated for research because it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans. Sadly, after three courageous years, Mr. Shirley passed away in fall of 2005. His “fight” lives on through the work of Lift For Life.

Lift For Life was born when Scott told his teammate Damone Jones of the challenges that kidney cancer patients faced. Damone's response was simple: why don't we do something? Damone saw an opportunity to leverage a summer lifting competition as a fundraiser and to provide student-athletes with an avenue to grow as socially responsible citizens. The two were soon approached by another teammate, Dave Costlow, who was looking for an opportunity to develop what he learned in the classroom and on the playing field into tangible job skills. With their unique perspectives, the three combined forces to devise a plan that would lead to the establishment of the Lift For Life.

Founded at Penn State in March 2003, Lift For Life has raised over $80,000 in its first three years with all proceeds benefiting the Kidney Cancer Association. The signature fundraising event is an annual strength and conditioning competition where Penn State football players compete in teams of four in a fun-to-watch eleven event strength and conditioning challenge. The exercises range from the ordinary (such as the bench press) to the extreme (such as the giant tire flip) and are designed to test both the mental and physical toughness of the participating athletes.

Scott, Damone and Dave have graduated from Penn State, but the Lift For Life tradition lives on. Many current football student-athletes and friends of Penn State are now involved with the organization and are achieving a sense of personal growth. The grand vision is for student-athletes across the county to operate local chapters of Lift For Life at their respective institutions while benefiting under-served charities of their choice.


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Designed by Matt Campolongo, PSU Class of 2005