Inside the most recent issue of the Penn Stater magazine, a full page is filled by a picture of Ben Kline, the Dallastown High School graduate who is now a redshirt junior for the Nittany Lions' football team.
Wearing his blue No. 38 PSU jersey and dark blue jeans, Kline is sitting on a bench inside the school's weight room flashing his pearly whites to the camera.
Kline is clean shaven, his blonde hair neatly cropped and a watch shining from his left wrist.
This is the look of the president of the Penn State chapter of Uplifting Athletes, a position Kline was named to in November. Chatting by phone Wednesday afternoon, Kline said there's no specific reason he took over the role of an organization aimed at raising awareness of rare diseases and money for kidney cancer research. He doesn't have any close friends or family members who have battled rare diseases.
"Nobody sticks out," Kline said. "But I have met a lot of people along the way. It's an opportunity to help them."
It's also quite the responsibility to live up to the expectations set by previous presidents. During the 11 years of the Penn State Lift for Life event, which is organized by the PSU chapter of Uplifting Athletes, members of the Nittany Lion football team have raised more than $825,000 for the Kidney Cancer Association, including record totals of more than $100,000 in each of the past three years. Kline said this year's Life for Life event, scheduled for Saturday, has a goal to raise $150,000.
"I think it's cool what we do here at Penn State. It's become a tradition. It's something everyone enjoys. It's something I wanted to become involved in," he said. "The opportunity presented itself and I couldn't turn it down."
Lift for Life: The Lift for Life event will be held on Penn State's lacrosse fields from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Penn State football players will compete in the 225-pound bench max, dead lift, sled push, tire flip, tug run and tug of war.
"During that time, kids will be on the field going through a clinic with players. Parents can pay $10 for a child. The kid gets a T-shirt," Kline said.
An autograph session will be held with all of the players from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m.
Injury: As to whether Kline will participate in any of the events is unclear.
"That's still up in the air," Kline said. "I might have to float around taking care of a few things at the event."
Kline reportedly suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in a regular summer workout session two weeks ago, all but ending his hopes of playing in 2014. Penn State has not released any confirmation on the injury. And Kline talked around any questions about the injury during the phone call Wednesday.
"All I can say is I'm working hard to get back on field as quickly as possible," Kline said.
Future: Kline has one more semester left to complete his bachelor's degree in finance and is set to graduate in December. A two-time Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, Kline said he hasn't thought about any plans beyond December or whether he'll pursue a master's degree. This might lead some to wonder if we should expect to see Kline in action on the Beaver Stadium field ever again. His answer to that?
"I'm just working as hard as I can to get back out on the field as quickly as possible," Kline said.
Still, his response was more expansive than those he gave at PSU media day last August, when the 6-foot-2, 229-pound linebacker was recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and deferred all questions on his shoulder and health status to Bill O'Brien, then the head coach of Penn State.
Close to vest: Kline was set to compete for a starting gig at linebacker for the Lions in 2014 before his latest setback, another in a long line of injuries he's suffered in his Penn State career. It's a topic he played close to the vest when asked about it Wednesday.
"I really enjoy it here. My teammates have done a great job with anything that has happened in the past," he said. "We have a great staff here and great doctors. They do a great job of building me up. I always feel comfortable here."
For now, the former Wildcats' standout is just trying to tie up some loose ends to make sure Saturday's event goes off without a hitch.
"There's a lot that goes into it behind the scenes. The executive board, picking events, picking match-ups, getting the word (out), getting fundraising rolling," he said. "The whole executive board does a great job."
For more information on Saturday's Life for Life, visit upliftingathletes.org.
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.