Posted: 11:13 am Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
By Post Staff
The Gators won’t play their first game for another 38 days, but the football team will have Ben Hill Griffin Stadium rocking this Friday night.
The Gators are set to hold their second annual Gator Charity Challenge, a competition that will pit the players against each other in several strength and conditioning exercises – oversized tire flips, tug-o-war, obstacle courses, etc. – while also raising awareness for six local charities. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. inside the stadium.
“All year we get a lot of support from the community,” senior safety Dorian Munroe said. “It’s not often we get to support other organizations and charities, so we really take it seriously. And of course we love to compete against each other.”
The players split themselves up into six teams – “We had a war room. It felt like a real NFL Draft,” Munroe said – and each of the six captains selected a charity to benefit.
Because of NCAA rules, the Gators can’t solicit for donations at the event. But they will raise awareness and provide pledge cards for people to donate money on their own.
The six charities, and their captains:
1. American Cancer Society – Joey Sorrentino
2. American Heart Association – Jermaine Cunningham
3. Children’s Miracle Network – Dorian Munroe
4. March of Dimes – David Nelson
5. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Cade Holliday
6. Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Lorenzo Edwards
The players were encouraged to select charities that meant something special to them. Sorrentino chose the American Cancer Society because his younger brother Anthony, now in 10th grade, survived liver cancer when he was three years old. Sorrentino’s grandfather is also battling lymphoma.
“It just hits close to home,” Sorrentino said.
This isn’t just a one-time event, either. The players have spent time with their charities throughout the summer. Sorrentino’s team took a day at the ACS’s Hope Lodge to play with kids suffering from cancer.
“We’re learning so much through hanging out with them,” Sorrentino said. “I think we’ve been more impacted than the people we’re trying to help.”
The Gators held this event last year for the first time, and the players enjoyed it so much that they have organized the entire thing on their own.
Nelson, a senior receiver, has spearheaded most of the planning.
“He’s really taken charge of this whole event,” Munroe said. “He’s the one that calls the meetings, texts everyone to be certain places at certain times. He did a great job with this event.”
As for the actual event, Sorrentino and Munroe are looking forward to one strength challenge in particular:
“I’m more excited about tug-o-war,” Sorrentino said. “You get all the big boys lining up, talking trash, getting into it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”