Kevin Haplea had plenty of free time in the past year, and he decided to put it to use.
Haplea, a redshirt senior tight end for FSU, missed the 2013 season with a knee injury, but he wasn't idle. Haplea spearheaded Friday's Lift for Life event at Florida State's Indoor Practice Facility, raising money for Fanconi Anemia and Jimbo and Candi Fisher's Kidz1stFund.
"It's definitely a proud moment," Haplea said after the event's conclusion on Friday. "It's really good to see how much you can accomplish just by doing your part and pulling your own weight.I don't know the total number but I know we had a great crowd and raised a lot of money for a really good cause."
Barely more than a year ago, Haplea found out that he'd miss the 2013 season with an ACL tear. Shortly thereafter the transfer from Penn State decided to start an FSU chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit organization that sets college football teams up to help fundraise for rare diseases. Haplea had been involved in the Penn State chapter of the same organization, and FSU already had a strong tie to Fanconi Anemia fundraising through the Fisher family and the Kidz1stFund.
Fisher said he was moved when Haplea brought the idea of starting an FSU chapter to help raise money for Fanconi Anemia, a rare and currently incurable disease that affects Fisher's son, Ethan.
"It was amazing to me," Fisher said. "When he started uplifting athletes he was injured and he could have been down, and that just showed his character."
Haplea took charge of organizing the efforts, making sure to get the group registered and doing much of the busy work, reserving space on campus and getting all the requisite permits and paperwork for the group's events - Friday's Lift for Life was the first at FSU.
"It's not really too big a challenge when you have a lot of guys helping you out," Haplea said. "I'm heading it up, just from knowing so much about it. Everyone at FSU is a big help, the facility staff and everyone. there were so many people involved it's definitely not just me, I don't want to take all the credit."
Most of FSU's roster showed up on Friday to participate in a series of competitive strength games; pushing sleds, flipping tires, even pushing vans across the IPF field. Players said that Fisher's son Ethan, who suffers from Fanconi Anemia and is frequently around the team, provided a powerful motivation to do something to help.
"It's always great supporting something," sophomore safety Jalen Ramsey said. "It's great to be a part of that. … We see Ethan as a regular little kid. He's fun to be around, he jokes, he laughs. but you know in the back of your mind he has this disease and it's good knowing you can support someone."
Fisher played cheerleader and occasional referee during the event, and said seeing such a large number of his players come out for this event was a deeply moving experience.
"For Candi and I it's tremendous," Fisher said. "It amazes me the way kids can be. They've got so many things to do today and their time is so demanding, every second is accounted for. For them to come out here and help our family and the other children, words don't explain it. It's just an unbelievable appreciation we have and respect we have for our players to be able to do that."