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Darien Football Players Lift Weights, Raise Hope In Fighting Rare Disorder

Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS.
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS.
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS.
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS.
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS.
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS.
Football players from Darien and Brien McMahon High participated in the "Lifting Grace" fundraiser Thursday at Darien HS. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Darien football coach Rob Trifone talks to players from both schools prior to the competition.
Darien football coach Rob Trifone talks to players from both schools prior to the competition. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

DARIEN, Conn. — Football players from Darien High and Norwalk's Brien McMahon High joined forces Thursday to raise spirits, lift weights and raise money for the eighth annual "Lifting Grace" fundraiser at Darien High School.

The event — which raises money to battle Rasmussen's encephalitis — was inspired by Grace Wohlberg, a member of Darien High's Class of 2016 and the sister of former Darien football captain Mike Wohlberg. She was diagnosed with the rare neurological disorder in 2008.

"I think it's great camaraderie between the schools," Darien parent Christina Say told Daily Voice at the event. "Anything they do for a good cause is good, and Grace and her family are involved. I think it's great that Brien McMahon comes, and the kids get sponsors, and all the proceeds go to the cause. It's a great thing."

The two teams hoped to bench, squat and clean their way to a goal of $10,000.

Supporters of the lift-a-thon fundraiser pledge a penny per pound or a flat amount. The fundraiser will continue on Friday afternoon with more players.

Rasmussen’s encephalitis typically strikes children between the ages of 2 and 15. Within one to two years, it causes paralysis of half the body and frequent serious seizures. The standard treatment is a hemispherectomy, in which half the brain is removed.

Grace Wohlberg underwent the procedure in 2009, when she was just 10. Afterward, her father, Seth Wohlberg, started the RE Children's Project , a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and funding research into the disease.

For more information on the RE Children's Project, click here .

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