COLUMBIA - A rare disease is one that affects less than 200,000 Americans at any given time.

Pelizaeus Merzbacher is one of the approximately 7,000 rare diseases.

And it’s the rare disease that has sparked the South Carolina football team to rally and take action.

Gamecocks running back Devin Potter has a 19-year-old cousin who is battling Pelizaeus Merzbacher – a central nervous system disorder in which coordination, motor abilities and intellectual function are delayed to various extents.

“The fact one of our teammates has a cousin battling this disease has made it much more personal,” said South Carolina fullback Connor McLaurin.

Earlier this year the leadership team of McLaurin and Jordan Diaz helped the South Carolina football team form a chapter of Uplifting Athletes.

Using the platform of college football to bring awareness, educate and raise funds for their chosen rare disease, the Gamecocks will hold their first event Thursday evening.

The South Carolina Lift For Life, a fun-to-watch team workout, will take place at 6 p.m. on the football practice fields adjacent to Williams-Brice Stadium.

And the public is invited to attend.

“You can tell everyone is getting excited and more serious about the event,” said McLaurin, who is the president of the South Carolina Chapter. “This is our first Lift For Life and it’s been a lot of work.

“The closer we get the more I feel it’s going to be a great event.”

South Carolina is one of 21 student-athlete led chapters nationwide that is part of the Uplifting Athletes family of college football teams that have joined the fight against rare diseases.

The Gamecocks are one of eight new chapters that have formed in 2013. South Carolina is the first team from the SEC to hold an official event.

“Maybe some other SEC schools will see what we’re going and want to get more involved and help take Uplifting Athletes nationwide,” McLaurin said.

“The whole idea is just great. Not many organizations are doing what Uplifting Athletes is doing with college football. It’s such an awesome opportunity to help others.”

To donate and support the South Carolina Lift For Life visit: www.upliftingathletes.org

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