Gator Charity Event Signals End of Offseason

The Gators took to the The Swamp Friday night for their last bit of fun. The Gator Charity Challenge signaled the end of grueling offseason workouts and the beginning of a few days of freedom before players report for fall camp August 4.

"This is the fun stuff," senior defensive end Duke Lemmens said. "This isn't the hard stuff. This is what we work all summer for, to show off our muscles to everybody."

The third annual event was created to expose six charities to the community. A senior player captained each team.

The three events players competed in were the sled push, obstacle course and farmer's hold, where each player carried a 140-pound weigh in both hands for as long as possible.

The night was capped off by a tug of war competition.

The STOP! Children's Cancer team, captained by linebacker Lorenzo Edwards, won the entire challenge, despite finishing second in tug of war to the Ronald McDonald House team.

"Tonight just shows our energy," Lemmens said. "We really came out here for a cause. It wasn't about us, but it was about the charities."

Offensive lineman Carl Johnson won the farmer's hold by keeping the weight off the ground for two minutes and one second. However, the climax of the night was tug of war. It was done in double elimination format, with the Ronald McDonald House team coming out of the loser's bracket to gain the title.

Omar Hunter served as the team's anchor, and he was difficult to move. Jordan Reed and Chris Rainey were near the front of the line, while Kyle Koehne and Carl Johnson stood right in front of Hunter to provide an anchor almost impossible to move. They needed to beat the STOP! Children's Cancer team twice in the finals to take home the tug of war title, and that's exactly what they did.

Jon Halapio was the anchor for STOP! Children's Cancer, while Ian Silberman and Edwards lined up in front of him. When it started, Halapio turned his back to his teammates and attempted to run the other way, pulling the rope with him. The strategy worked in every matchup except the finals. Ronald Powell and Will Hill were near the front of the line but couldn't get any momentum with the rope.

The entire team circled around midfield for the tug of war finals, with multiple players taking turns encouraging the crowd to make noise.

"It's about watching a team develop in areas just like this," said Scott Holsopple, assistant director of strength and conditioning. "We get to come together for a great cause and donate our time."

The other highlights came on the obstacle course. Jeff Demps and Deonte Thompson started the night with a tie. While teammates called for a rematch, Demps slipped halfway through it and no winner was declared.

Rainey stole the show in introductions with a back flip as his team ran out of the tunnel.

The players will now get some time off workouts and report for camp on August 4. Practices begin August 5, while practices in pads begin August 11.
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