Iowa State University defensive end Mitchell Meyers is the ninth winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion award.
Meyers earned more votes than the other three 2017 finalists in a public online vote that opened January 9 and closed at midnight on January 31.
The Cyclones’ defensive end outlasted a field of finalists that included: Pitt running back James Conner, Michigan fullback Michael Hirsch and Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams.
The Rare Disease Champion Award is presented annually by Uplifting Athletes to a leader in the world of college football who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.
Meyers will be presented with the 2017 Rare Disease Champion trophy as part of the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala on March 10th at The Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City.
Meyers endured a long and difficult 18-month journey with the rare disease Hodgkin’s lymphoma. An impact player in 2013 and 2014 for the Cyclones, Meyers lost his 2015 season when he was diagnosed in February of that year.
During his roller coaster 13-month chemotherapy and radiation treatments, getting back to school and playing football again were always in the back of Meyers’ mind. He made it back to the ISU camp in the spring and was cleared for full contact just prior to preseason camp for the 2016 season.
After 18 months away from the game, Meyers not only earned a starting spot but also became a big-time contributor up front defensively for the Cyclones this past season. He played all season, recording 30 tackles and was named to Academic All-Big 12 and Academic All-District.
He was one of only five Cyclones to start all 12 games in 2016.
Meyers was voted as a team captain for the 2016 season and wore the No. 58 for the Cyclones. Each year Iowa State hands the No. 58 jersey to a lineman who best embodies the spirit of a beloved former coach, Curtis Bray, who died suddenly in 2014.
Previous winners of the Rare Disease Champion award include: American Football Coaches Association Executive Director Grant Teaff (2009); Dickinson College quarterback Ian Mitchell (2010); Princeton running back Jordan Culbreath (2011); Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead (2012); Penn State offensive lineman Eric Shrive (2013), Nebraska fullback C.J. Zimmerer (2014), Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates (2015) and USC long snapper Jake Olson (2016).