Downingtown native Rob Long was a star punter at Syracuse University and possessed pro potential, reports Kevin Riordan for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Until he was hit with a rare form of brain cancer that flagged his NFL dreams.
Long, a graduate of Downingtown West High School, redirected his life and now heads a Bucks County-based nonprofit that targets rare diseases.
A diagnosis of anaplastic astrocytoma — malignant tumors on star-shaped brain cells — sacked Long’s chances to advance in the 2011 NFL Draft.
More than that, it threatened his very existence. Life expectancy for patients like him was generally three years.
“When I was in that exam room … and I received that diagnosis, I was lucky there was (treatment) they could try,” said Long. “They could do that because time, money, and effort had been spent.”
He’s now connecting others with similar resources.
As head of Uplifting Athletes in Doylestown, Long works to supply grant-funding for esoteric medical maladies that generally lack public attention and big donations. About 95 percent of them do not have FDA-approved treatments available.
“I do not take any day for granted,” Long said. “Every day I am able to get up and dress myself and go to work is a great day.”
More on Rob Long and his organization is in The Philadelphia Inquirer.