Colgate University and Uplifting Athletes Join Forces with CERN

— Categories: Press Release     Posted on April 10, 2011

The CERN Foundation was selected by the Colgate Chapter of Uplifting Athletes to become the fundraising beneficiary.

It started with a backache. Colgate offensive line coach Casey Vogt chalked it up to long car rides as he recruited the newest class of Raider football players. He eventually consulted a team doctor who ordered x-rays and a MRI. Turns out, the culprit had nothing to do with recruiting, car rides or coaching in general. Vogt had a tumor on his spinal cord.

“I was shocked,” Vogt said.

It was early 2008 when Vogt was diagnosed with ependymoma. A little more than two months after being diagnosed, Coach Vogt had the tumor removed. The surgery was a success; doctors believed they had removed the entire mass. All the while, his players did not know the extent of the diagnosis. They all knew he had back surgery, they just didn’t know about the cancer.

“It wasn’t until 3 years later before we opened up to some of his players,” Vogt’s wife Amber says. That’s when the team sprung into action, choosing this year to raise money and awareness for Ependymoma. “I was honored that they wanted to do that for me,” Coach Vogt said.

The Vogts appreciate the attention the disease will get because of Colgate’s efforts. They admit their frustration is that little is known about ependymoma. Initially, it was very hard for them to find information on their own. Enter the Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN) Foundation, a dedicated group of scientists and neuro-oncologists working to find new treatments for ependymoma.

The CERN Foundation was recently selected by the Colgate Chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a national non-profit organization that raises awareness of rare diseases through links to college football, to become the fundraising beneficiary for Colgate’s fourth annual LIFT FOR LIFE event.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to connect with Colgate University and Uplifting Athletes on this fundraising effort to raise the visibility of ependymoma,” said Mark Gilbert, MD, who serves as the Principal Investigator of CERN. “Through fundraising by generous donors, including the inspiring work at Colgate and Uplifting Athletes on behalf of Coach Casey Vogt, CERN is taking significant steps to achieve our ultimate goal – to cure ependymoma.”

The LIFT FOR LIFE event was held on March 23, 2011 on the Colgate University campus in Hamilton, New York. The strength-and-conditioning fundraiser was run by the Colgate football team to raise money for ependymoma research.

Colgate’s athletic director David Roach and head football coach Dick Biddle attended the event, and Colgate alumnus and Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy donated a signed Packer jersey and helmet for raffle prizes.

Last year, the team raised more than $8,600 for neuroblastoma. This year the team hopes to raise $10,000 for ependymoma research. Donations can be made online.

Current and past players say the decision to support Coach Vogt was easy as he became an inspiration to so many students, players and coaches at Colgate. Vogt often reminds his team of the quote, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” The team embraced the mission to do what they could do to bring awareness to the rare disease and to let Vogt know how much they appreciate what he does for them as student-athletes.

“Even in his most painful time, bed-ridden with a 6-day beard on his face, Coach Vogt always had a smile on his face,” said recent Colgate graduate Greg Hadley.

Offensive lineman Kevin Morgan talks about Vogt’s character. “Coach Vogt has been one of the most positive influences in my life,” Morgan says. “One of the biggest things he has taught me is how much caring and supporting others means to those who you care for and support.”

Coach Vogt’s prognosis is good. He has several scans and checkups every year and so far, everything has checked out. Casey has even more reason to fight Ependymoma: his 22-month old son.

“He makes me more conscious of my health,” said Casey. Meanwhile, Coach Vogt’s players are more conscious of his contributions to the team.

“No matter what we accomplish this year, nothing can equate to what he does for us on a daily basis,” said current player Ryan Risch. “Coach treats us not just as numbers on a roster, but also like his own sons.”

It’s the ultimate compliment for a coach.

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