Georgia Bulldog sideline reporter Chuck Dowdle shared an old Mark Richt story and urged Madison County citizens to be generous to their neighbors in need Sept. 20.
Dowdle was the featured speaker at the annual United Way Kickoff hosted by the Chamber of Commerce at the Madison County High School theater Thursday morning.
The former WSB-TV sports director and 2012 United Way honorary chairperson told the audience about his trip to Knoxville with Richt in 2001, the UGA coach’s first year in Athens.
Dowdle and Richt, who knew each other from their days in Miami, were about to leave Richt’s office to catch a plane to Tennessee when Richt stopped in the hallway.
“What did you forget?” Dowdle asked.
“The game plan,” Richt responded.
Dowdle was shocked. He said he couldn’t believe Richt nearly left the game plan behind.
Of course, the 2001 Georgia-Tennessee game is one of the most famous of Richt’s tenure at Georgia. The Bulldogs led much of the game, but surrendered the lead on a late touchdown by Travis Stephens on a screen pass. But Georgia drove back down the field, with David Greene leading the way. The red-shirt freshman quarterback hit Verron Haynes on a six-yard touchdown pass — which was cemented into Bulldog lore as the “Hobnail Boot” call by the late Larry Munson.
After the game, Dowdle met Richt on the field to offer a congratulatory handshake, but Richt grabbed him and pulled him close, then whispered in his ear: “We had a plan.”
Dowdle transitioned from that story, pointing out that United Way has a plan for Northeast Georgians in need. In 2011, 6,672 Madison County residents were served by agencies that the United Way supports with funding.
This included the food bank, which distributed 525,000 lbs. of food to needy people in Madison County, up from the pre-recession 2007 total of 195,000 lbs.
“The United Way is critical to the success of these agencies,” said Dowdle. “As Southerners, we’re all about taking care of each other and taking care of our neighbors.”
The goal for local donations is $65,000.
Dowdle told the story of how his father used to put away $1 a day, then deposit the $30-31 every month, finally purchasing a car with cash with the money. He said the small contributions to United Way really add up. He noted that the money remains local and supports local citizens.
SUPPORTED BY UNITED WAY
The 19 agencies served by the United Way of Northeast Georgia include: Fine Finish, American Red Cross, Athens Community Council on Aging, Athens Neighborhood Health Center, Boys and Girls Club, Community Connection, Extra Special People, Family Counseling Services, Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, Harmony House, Hope Haven, Northeast Georgia Boy Scouts, Prevent Child Abuse Athens, Project ADAM, Project Safe, Salvation Army, The Cottage Sexual Assault Center and the YWCO Girls Club.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information on how you can donate to the United Way of Northeast Georgia, call 706-543-5254, visit www.unitedwaynega.org or write the United Way of Northeast Georgia at One Huntington Road, Suite 805, Athens, GA 30606.