Wuerffel here to help launch mentoring program
Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 9:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:09 a.m.
Danny Wuerffel knows the power of mentoring. His mother's affirmations from the beginning of his life helped guide his decisions.
And when he took his turn as mentor, Wuerffel, a Heisman Trophy-winner himself, helped another University of Florida football player become a Heisman winner — Tim Tebow.
"The most significant things don't happen when one person does it," Wuerffel said. "It's when people come together as a team — that's when beautiful things happen."
Wuerffel, along with civic and business leaders, came together on Thursday to launch the iMentor initiative, aimed at involving more residents in mentoring area children.
iMentor is part of the Mentor Center, which was opened in June by the Gainesville Community Foundation. The Mentor Center serves as a clearinghouse to connect people with mentoring agencies across the county, said Director Jennifer Trigash.
"We're hoping the business and faith-based communities and individuals will feel the call," she said.
Girls Place, Partnership for Strong Families, United Way and Kids Count were among the agencies presenting at the event, which was held at the O2BKids center on Newberry Road.
Ann Collett, vice president for Innovation Gainesville, said mentors are needed to ensure the community becomes a pioneer for the 21st century.
"It's going to be what grows our community in richness and intellect," she said.
Perry McGriff, chairman of the Gainesville Community Foundation's board, said the business and faith-based communities will make a difference because they care.
"We're going to pick people up from their bootstraps and move them forward," he said.
Nathan Whitaker, a Gainesville native who co-authored Tebow's book, also spoke at the event.
"Sometimes you plant the seeds and you see them come to fruit," he said. "Sometimes the seeds are planted and someone else sees it. Whatever it is you do, it's not too small."
Wuerffel harkened back to his days at the University of Florida.
"When I look back on the team, the greatest thing is the team," he said. "We came together for a common cause that allowed us to overcome adversity," adding that he was encouraged to see many people dedicated to aiding the mentoring program.
Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones said the children are the future of the country.
"Where you are going to make the greatest difference is one-on-one," he said.
More people need to step up as mentors to help deter children from unsavory influences, Jones said.
"They have a mentoring program in the streets," he said. "The mentoring program in the streets is to befriend them and turn them to crime."
Wuerffel said that throughout his life, he heard a voice telling him that he was the smartest, fastest and best man. He said he realized in adulthood that it was the voices of his parents, coaches and God that instilled those beliefs deeply within him.
"We all get the opportunity to be that voice for someone else," he said. "Mentoring is one of the most significant things a person can do for someone else."
Contact Jackie Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org or 338-3166.
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