Charity run unites UGA, Tech fans

LAWRENCEVILLE - The path between Georgia's football powerhouses goes through Gwinnett, but the traffic this weekend won't be completely torn by the rivalry.

On Saturday morning, the men of rival Phi Gamma Delta chapters will run the game football from Athens to Atlanta, where the University of Georgia Bulldogs will face off with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

"We're united for a good cause," said Ryan Cranford, a member of UGA's Kappa Deuteron chapter of the fraternity, known as FIJI. "Come game time, that may be a different story."

For 10 years, the brothers have come together for a charity run between the two campuses. This year, they hope to net $40,000 for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"It's unique to do something with Georgia Tech," said Cranford, a graduate of Providence Christian Academy in Lilburn. "On the field, you want to beat them to the ground."

But while the football rivalry can put the schools at odds, the men said they can put that aside for Saturday's run.

"It's definitely a fun rivalry," said Stephen Hench, a Tech student from Duluth. "You want to win it."

Hench said the two chapters are also rivals, since they often compete for awards from the fraternity's international organization, but he is looking forward to the two chapters tailgating together prior to the game.

The FIJI Run for the Kids has spread around the country, with men running between the campuses of Virginia and Virginia Tech and Ohio State and Michigan during the rivalry weekend.

Chris Gerard, from the Gamma Tau chapter at Tech, said he hears ribbing from his parents, UGA grads, and his brother, who studies at Georgia now. But the charity race makes the rivalry friendlier.

"It is for charity and we're all in it together," said Gerard, a Parkview graduate.

During Saturday's relay, about 60 brothers from both campuses will carry the game ball, running along U.S. Highway 78 through Snellville.

Hench said some people pull to the side of the road to give donations.

To get information about how to contribute, go to www.gtfiji.com/fijirunforthekids - or, if you are a Bulldog, www.uga.edu/fiji/pgdphila.htm.