Countdown to Kickoff continues to help charities

Seven years ago, Matt and Jon Stinchcomb approached members of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Georgia Transplant Foundation with an idea.

The Parkview grads and former Georgia Bulldog standouts didn't have much of a plan at the time, just a vision.

"I'm sure they left that meeting going, 'Those two guys are clueless. I hope they are good at football,'" Jon Stinchcomb quipped. "We went in there and said 'Here's what we're thinking. We'd like to do something to raise money for you.'"

The idea from that initial meeting evolved into Countdown to Kickoff, a yearly fundraiser geared toward Georgia Bulldog fans. The three-day event begins with the celebrity Dawgleg Golf Classic, followed by the fan festival and then the Dawgs for Kids party.

"You can tell the excitement of Georgia football this time of year," said co-host and former UGA quarterback David Greene. "To see how excited the fans are to be there and meet some of these guys. The kids are excited to see an Aaron Murray, but the dad might be excited to see Buck Belue. It's really just neat to see how excited the fans get."

In the past six years, Countdown to Kickoff has raised more than $770,000 for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Georgia Transplant Foundation. The goal this year is to raise $140,000.

"It's been very successful," Greene said. "More importantly, it's been able to raise some good money."

Countdown to Kickoff begins on Friday with the golf classic. The event, which is already sold out, pairs current or former UGA coaches and players with a foursome.

The fan festival Saturday and draws 1,500 people every year. The event offers UGA fans a chance to meet and get autographs from former Georgia legends, NFL players and current players.

"The main thrust is always fan day. When Matt and I started this thing it was 'How can we tap into the passion the Bulldog Nation has for its current and former players and leverage that for kids in need,?'" Jon Stinchcomb said. "It's become clear, this is a great vehicle to combine a very fun atmosphere for fans to see the faces and interact with the actual people that wear the helmets and the jerseys. This fan day gives fans the opportunity to meet David Greene, meet the Aaron Murray's of the world."

The event draws UGA fans young and old. The parents rehash their favorite moments with players, while the kids make room for a huge game of touch football in the end zone.

"It's a win-win. The players and the fans love it. It's a great time," Greene said. "It's really just a small token of what we can do to give back."

The three-day event concludes on August 24 with the Dawgs for Kids party. The event in Brookhaven features current and former UGA players, coaches and celebrities. Attendees can participate in live and silent auctions and have the chance to win premiere Bulldog memorabilia.

"It's a setting you're not going to find anywhere else," Greene said. "The fans love it and in turn it raises good money for these charities."