Like many Gators fans, former University of Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel will be in Jacksonville prior to UF’s annual showdown with Georgia.
Instead of spending the week fixated on the Oct. 27 showdown, however, the former Heisman Trophy winner is once again uniting the fan bases through a charitable cause.
On Oct. 25-26, Wuerffel will host the 8th Desire Cup at TPC Sawgrass, a golf fundraiser benefiting Desire Street Ministries.
“We take the rivalry, two fan bases that are typically big rivals,” Wuerffel said, “and we still are. We have a Ryder Cup-style, very competitive tournament. We have a winner and a trophy, but ultimately it’s Gators and Bulldogs coming together to unify around helping kids and families in under-resourced neighborhoods through Desire Street.”
The 2017 Desire Cup featured all three of Florida’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks, as Steve Spurrier and Tim Tebow joined Wuerffel, the executive director of Desire Street, for the event. Florida’s players narrowly defeated the Georgia contingent, 32-30, although the ensuing football game was a slightly different story. While Wuerffel is unsure whether or not Tebow will make a last-minute appearance this year, early indications suggest a significant turnout.
“We’ve got more celebrities coming from Florida and Georgia than ever before, highlighted by Steve Spurrier and Vince Dooley from the coaches perspective,” Wuerffel said Thursday. “Champ Bailey just agreed to come yesterday, and we have a bunch of surprises that are going to come at the last minute, too.”
The 2017 iteration of the Cup raised more than $300,000 for Desire Street, a ministry that opened in 1990 with the goal of providing resources to typically low-income areas in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, and the upcoming Desire Cup will look to match or exceed last year’s total.
Wuerffel added that the event, sponsored this year by Pilgrim’s, also receives donations from those seeking to benefit Desire Street yet are unable to attend — although any interested golfers should reach out to Wuerffel, as several spots are still available.
“We’re hoping and asking people that can’t even come that they would also support the event through what we call The 19th Hole,” Wuerffel said. “We’re going to launch into six new neighborhoods this year, so it’s a big, exciting time for us, and we could use everybody’s help.”
For a community still feeling the effects 13 years later from Hurricane Katrina, the contributions go a long way in rebuilding the area — and improving the lives of those who make up its community.
“We’ve seen, not only hundreds, if not thousands, of kids develop in some incredible ways through education and moving on, but we’ve also seen neighborhoods begin to transform into being healthier and safer,” Wuerffel said. “There’s been better access to education, healthcare and housing, and we’ve helped start some churches. And we’ve seen a lot of systemic changes, which is really our goal, to revitalize under-resourced neighborhoods. And it’s been really encouraging.”
As for the Florida-Georgia game itself? Wuerffel stopped short of expressing enthusiasm when it came to UF’s chances at downing the Bulldogs, but he did praise the work Dan Mullen has done in his first season in Gainesville.
“I’m super impressed and pleased with Coach Mullen,” Wuerffel. “I think what he’s done with our team has been fantastic.”
The Desire Cup tournament tees off Oct. 25 at 7:30 a.m.