JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On October 30, the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs will meet in Jacksonville for the annual rivalry game. Around the region, there are annual celebrations that will follow. Parties and get-togethers at country clubs, in back yards, and around RV City.
For the last decade, one of the traditions around the game has been Danny Wuerffel’s Desire Cup golf tournament--a fundraiser for his foundation and Desire Street Ministries.
This year, it’s scheduled for Oct. 28-29 in Sea Island, Ga.
Florida fans play against Georgia fans with a few legends from each school on the respective teams. It’s become a big part of the weekend--and a bigger deal than Wuerffel envisioned when he launched it 11 years ago.
“We had no idea 11 years ago that the Desire Cup would be a great part of the Florida-Georgia weekend,” Wuerffel said. “And we had some great folks be kind enough to help us frame that and put it together. We capture that the rivalry, the passion that both fan bases have. We bring in different celebrities and coaches, (Steve) Spurrier and (Vince) Dooley and are always there. And of course, we’ve had Herschel (Walker) and Emmett (Smith) and (Tim) Tebow showed up. So we always have some surprise guests.”
Wuerffel said the competition between the two schools’ fans is one of his favorite parts of the event, which has raised over $200,000 some years.
“You get to actually compete,” Wuerffel said. “You as a fan get to compete against the other school and we like to say whoever wins the Desire Cup has the edge on the game. So this is your chance to impact the game.”
For fans who don’t want to play, the 19th hole accepts online donations.
“The work we do at Desire Street is needed now more than ever in under-resourced neighborhoods all over the South,” Wuerffel said. “And this is that the biggest way for us to fund the work that we do and impact thousands of lives of kids and families. The 19 hole (is) a way for you to participate to be involved, make a donation, and make a difference.”
Desire Street Ministries offer services in New Orleans, Atlanta, Mobile, Augusta, Ga., Orlando, and Texas. Wuerffel says its mission is to develop 20 “thriving and sustainable ministries in neighborhoods by 2025.”
As for his memories of playing the Florida-Georgia game, Wuerffel is one of the few in the history of the series to have played the rivalry game in three different locations. In 1994, while Jacksonville Municipal Stadium was being renovated in advance of the Jaguars joining the NFL, the game was played in Gainesville where the Gators beat Georgia 52-33. The following year, the met Between the Hedges and the Gators put up a big number again in a 52-17 win. Wuerffel then directed the Gators to a 47-7 win over the Bulldogs in Jacksonville in 1996, the year he won the Heisman Trophy and Florida won the school’s first football national championship.
“I like the Jacksonville thing,” Wuerffel said. “I live in Atlanta and the Georgians feel like it really is more of an away game every year. So I can be somewhat sympathetic with their thoughts. I see that, but I’m really glad that for the time being and decided to keep it there and I do hope it stays.”