For those that don't know, Countdown to Kickoff is a charity event held each summer on the University of Georgia campus that benefits The Georgia Transplant Foundation and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Hosted by former Bulldogs, Matt Stinchcomb, and Jon Stinchcomb, Countdown to Kickoff includes a golf tournament, auction, and the aforementioned Fan Festival. While the golf tournament and auction raise a great deal of money for GTF and CHA, the majority of people go for the Fan Festival.
This year's fan festival took place from noon until 3 pm and was an absolutely great day. Among the activities at the festival were autographs and pictures with current and former Bulldogs, performances by the cheerleaders and the Redcoats, rides for kids, running drills and playing two-hand touch with former players, and free food from Your Pie, Carrabba's, and Johnsonville. Not a bad deal for 25 bucks.
I was lucky enough to take my 5 year old son, Trey, to the event this year and (with the help of a buddy of mine that helped organize the event) he had some once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In order to give you some idea about what the event was like, I thought I'd share some of the photos of our day with the Dawgs:
The first thing Trey wanted to do when we got to the field was see Aaron Murray. Though Trey has been brought up with a steady stream of UGA experiences (beginning with his birth during the 2007 Ole Miss game), Aaron Murray is without question his favorite player and this was the highlight of the day for him. As you can probably tell from the picture, he was very nervous. But he was able to talk to Aaron for a minute and get his helmet signed and after we walked away he pretty much lost his mind.
After a quick run through the obstacle course and a trip to the bouncy castle (and then a malfunctioning portable toilet... but that's another story), we were able to snap a few quick pictures of Trey with Clint Boling (Photo 1) and Ben Jones and Tavarres King (Photo 2).
Trey was getting a little hungry at this point so he grabbed a hot dog and headed over to a tent Carrabba's had set up (mostly because he smelled more food):
At the tent, he met George Foster and Damien Gary. Foster joked with Trey about stealing his shirt and stretching it out so he could wear it. Trey told him that he couldn't have it.
About this time, my buddy took our footballs and Trey's helmet to have it signed by David Greene (who was absolutely swamped with people). Once he was finished, we continued to move around the field until my friend directed us to Fred Gibson, who was taking a break from signing autographs to quickly inhale a hot dog.
Pictured above: My son, Fred Gibson, and inside Fred Gibson's mouth, Fred Gibson's hot dog.
Fred was a really nice guy and joked with Trey for a few minutes before returning back to the crowd of people that had started to amass.
After another round on the rides and a couple of Powerades, the day was slowly winding to an end. Before we headed out, my buddy brought us over to meet Jon Stinchcomb who proceeded to let my son do something that most of us will never get the chance to do:
That is my child wearing aRing. This was ridiculously cool and then Jon just walked off, leaving the ring on Trey's thumb. Due to the absurd number of diamonds on the thing, we quickly caught up to him and returned it before heading to the car.
Overall, I can't recommend attending the Countdown to Kickoff Fan Festival highly enough. If you or your children haven't ever been, you need to go ahead and mark your calendars to attend next year. I know I'll be returning for another day of fun and memorable experiences.
Until next time...