There were two unmarked vans on the new Penn State Lacrosse Field, and not a single fan looked at them twice as they filed in.
Then the players started pushing them.
The 10th annual Uplifting Athletes Lift for Life event Friday was a charity event that raised $110,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association in its best year yet, bringing the grand total of all 10 years to over $700,000.
Not to mention the Penn State football team put on a show for more than 2,500 spectators.
The offense beat the defense, 176-136, in a point-based showcase of their strength. The players were split up by their positions and rotated through various events. This year’s format pitted the offensive linemen against the defensive linemen, the running backs and tight ends against the linebackers, and the quarterbacks and wide receivers against the defensive backs.
The players had to push two vans — each weighed nearly six-and-a-half tons — in a race, heave medicine balls backward and over a goalpost, flip 680 pound tires, pull a weighted sled, stack 50 pound bags on top of each other and take part in a dramatic tug-of-war.
The offense was ahead of the defense for most of the event, but the defense made a run at the end. The tug-of-war was the last event, and they had an opportunity to win.
However, the offense out-pulled the defense in all three tries, securing the victory.
“We’ve got some big offensive guys here and it just goes to show that [offense and defense] have worked their tails off all summer," redshirt senior quarterback Matt McGloin said. “But I don’t think this means too much out here. It’s just about having fun.”
The players attacked each event with their all for two hours Friday.
“We compete everyday and this is just another day for us,” junior linebacker Khairi Fortt said. “Even though there was a winner and a loser, everyone was going hard as they could.”
Assistant coaches and teammates tried to motivate the players by yelling in their ears as they competed in each event.
Some players, however, had preexisting motivations.
“My aunt died two-and-a-half years ago from cancer,” senior linebacker Gerald Hodges said. “When I come out here and do this, I definitely think about that. To know that I’m out here doing a good cause, and she died for me, so it’s just enjoyable to do.”
Senior center Matt Stankiewitch lost two of his grandparents to cancer, and another grandfather lost a lung to the disease.
“It’s hit my family very hard,” he said. “But I’m here to support people with kidney cancer and all types of cancer. That’s the way Penn State football is.”