STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The day after Louis Freeh and his investigative team exposed Penn State's ugliest scar, one that never can be concealed, a different side of the school revealed itself.
Across University Drive from the football complex where Jerry Sandusky raped children while others did little or nothing to stop him, Penn State football players gathered on the school's lacrosse field to flip tires, push vans, toss medicine balls through goalposts and raise tens of thousands of dollars for a worthy cause. Friday marked the 10th annual Lift for Life, a strength and conditioning challenge run by the organization Uplifting Athletes, which raises funds to help fight kidney cancer.
Founded by three former Penn State players, including Scott Shirley, whose father, Don, died of kidney cancer in 2005, the Lift for Life event has raised more than $600,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association since 2003. There are now 15 Uplifting Athletes chapters run by college football players around the country who hold similar fundraising events to fight rare diseases. But Shirley, a 2003 Penn State graduate, regards Penn State's event as "kind of like my Christmas," even though it took place following the university's Day of Atonement.
"This isn't in response to anything, this isn't trying to prove anything," Shirley said. "This is something that has happened for 10 years naturally, because it's what we do. It's part of our culture."
Similar events like THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, and the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games, held annually here, are also part of Penn State. So, too, are the heinous crimes Sandusky committed and the massive cover-up that Freeh said four senior leaders, including former head football coach Joe Paterno, engineered for years.
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