May 27, 2007 ellen leahy Uncategorized
FootBall will again be staged at the Skaneateles Country Club; Honorees are S.U. greats Floyd Little and Roland Williams.
Former Syracuse University football’s number 44, Floyd Little, and Super Bowl Champ, Roland Williams, are the perfect first round picks for M&T Bank’s Heart of a Champion … Then and Now. This fifth annual FootBall will be from 7 to 11 p.m. June 8 at the Skaneateles Country Club. The public is invited to attend. The evening’s dinner and dancing is $125 per person. All proceeds will support the William’s Youth Lifeline Foundation.
What is the FootBall?
Cheerleading is a physical expression of team spirit. Syracuse University Alumna and former cheerleader Lauren Russo Duby, took her love of all things Syracuse football and rolled it into this Ball. The FootBall rose five years ago, a gala event to celebrate the sport and its players on and off the field, while raising real dollars for worthy causes. The Syracuse Children’s Hospital was the recipient two years in a row, but the benefactors often change by design. As Lauren said, needs change in the community.
Flashback: S.U. sophomore Lauren Russo meets incoming freshman quarterback Don McPherson. Their relationship becomes very close, yet always platonic. So much so that young ladies were constantly calling her to get to Don. She didn’t mind as they forged a friendship that still exists.
Lauren who went into business and opened the first of two retail florist and gift boutiques on the SU Hill, spun this creative energy into event planning, eventually opening the Event Studio in the Bentley Settle Building in Armory Square. As her brochure says, she went into the business of designing wonderful events and celebrations.
After college when McPherson and Lauren’s professional paths crossed, he commissioned her to work as an event planner for a fund-raiser he was supporting for Jenna’s Law and the Jenna Foundation for non-violence.
“He is a big advocate against violence,” Lauren said. “He goes around the country teaching and lecturing on violence toward women. He also appeared on the Oprah Show and in O Magazine.
I wanted to work together again, and recruiting his help on the FootBall was the perfect opportunity for us to team up.
The FootBall kick off:
Lauren shared her vision of team spirit, which was to get Syracuse’s football community to come together to champion a charitable institution. It’s important to note that this event is driven by Central New York businesses with 100 percent support from the University.
She wanted to get the party started right, by inviting another former quarterback, Donovan McNabb, Coach Mac and Don too.
“Donnie laughed at me,” she said.
He told her there is no way you will get all our schedules to work.
“If I do,” she said, “will you come?”
Well, the roster was set within 24 hours. That first year it was called the “McMac,” one third of the proceeds went to Dick ‘Coach Mac’ MacPherson’s juvenile diabetes fund, one third to the Jenna Foundation in McPherson’s name and one third to — Donovan McNabb’s foundation.
Scott Congel, who was also at Syracuse with McPherson and Lauren, got the FootBall in play by hosting it at the Pyramid Companies downtown.
“Scott was a former football player too,” Lauren said, “We all knew each other in college Scott, Donnie Mac and me.”
Party draws former ‘Cuse’ football players back:
“We’ve had super bowl champs,” Lauren said. “They come back to the community; they come back to participate. Coaches too, in years past, Coach P (Paul Pasqualoni) spent a lot of his own time and money on the event, he was very dedicated, his wife Jill too.”
Some of the others to return have been Donovan McNabb, Rob Konrad, Kyle Johnson and James Mungro of the super bowl champion Colt’s.
“We don’t have a pro team, so the university’s team means a lot to the Syracuse area,” Lauren said.
This year’s FootBall revolves around the Legend of 44:
Floyd Little, the three time all-American running back, wore S.U.’s number 44. He was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos, where he was a five time pro bowler in 68,69,70,71 and 72. He is the guest of honor for this event with another former Orangemen Roland Williams, who is a Super Bowl XXXIV Champ.
McPherson will run interception for Little and Williams as the emcee with The Voice of the Orange, Matt Park, and former Miami dolphin’s wide receiver Scott Schwedes, who along with his wife Jodi, is the event chair for the second consecutive year.
This year’s honorary chairs and event sponsors are M&T Bank’s President, Allen Naples and co-honorary chair, Robin Toia, who is a vice president.
“M&T Bank is really responsible in growing this event,” Lauren said. “They get on the phones and bring in other sponsors. These guys are so hardworking.”
Honoree Floyd Little will be joined by guest athletes Keith Bullcok, all pro for the Tennessee Titans; his nephew, Kalvin Smith, recently drafted to the Miami Dolphins; Pittsburgh Steeler Anthony Smith; former S.U. quarterback Troy Nunes; Dan Conley who coaches Wagner and Robert Drummond. These players are teaming up with S.U.’s coaching staff and 14 of the current players to benefit Roland Williams Youth Lifeline Foundation.
Many S.U. alumnus come out, as well as the big players and captains of industry in and around central New York.
“The current players volunteer for the night and really help out,” Lauren said. “They will be joined by their Chancellor, Nancy Cantor, whose enthusiasm is exciting off and on the field and Athletic Director Daryl Gross who is very supportive, as well as a great dancer. Lauren said he already bought a Floyd Little football and donated it to the auction.
The event really encompasses two days in Skaneateles:
The former players are hosted Thursday night by Linda and Gary Dower owners of Skaneateles’ Mirbeau Inn and Spa.
“Mirbeau has been a big supporter of this event,” Lauren said. “They are a number one client of mine.”
This is another relationship that also goes back, as Lauren and Linda Dower met when they were 16.
Friday starts early with an 8:30 a.m. shotgun on the golf course. There are a lot of big guns on the course as members of the community team up with football players. After the swinging on the links, many of the football players will go boating on Skaneateles Lake, in a few classics including The Sherwood Inn’s Chris Craft “Stephanie.”
“Floyd is very excited about boating on Skaneateles,” Lauren said, “Whereas his wife is more interested in the spa.”
The athletes will make a grand entrance by sea to the Skaneateles Country Club at 7 p.m. This is a black tie /football jersey / optional event.
As guests arrive by land they will walk past a pontoon boat, an all-terrain vehicle and a pick up truck all up for auction, all donated by Bass Pro Shop located at the Finger Lakes Mall, Auburn.
Once inside the club, a 50-50 cash raffle, gift baskets and other auction items, such as autographed sports memorabilia, will be on display including a trip with a hunting guide, also donated by Bass Pro. As part of the evenings agenda, the golf outings winners will be announced and prizes are handed out.
Many Russo and more:
Lauren grew up on the northside, then went to SU and as she puts it, never left the hill. She is related to Russo Produce Wholesaler out at the Regional Market, retail maven JoAnn Russo and the car dealers that are Russos.
“One of my brothers donated a car from his dealership one year, she said, “and then bought it back.”
All of the produce for the event is donated by Russo Produce, which is used in a decorative sense in the centerpieces. This is then donated to the Samaritan Center, which feeds the homeless in Syracuse. This thrills Lauren, who has joined the Samaritan’s board, who has a passion for this operation.
She also said Joe Woods who is a Skaneateles resident and the president of Sysco Foods donates the shrimp used on the buffet dinner.
“Believe it or not, we’ve never done an orange theme before,” Lauren said.
This will be combined with a historical look at the Orangemen. Lauren, who is after all an event planner, will have the tables draped with orange silk pin-tuck linens brought in from Atlanta, GA. The centerpieces will be candelabras decorated with fresh whole fruits, flowers, footballs and a “M.” Movies of classic games are shown throughout the evening. The 1959 championship game.
The main events at the food stations will not include Dome Dogs, but instead feature chilled pink shrimp, char-grilled carved beef tenderloins and roasted stuffed pork loins with all the appropriate accompaniments. Desserts will be presented as a decadent buffet too, with Chocolate Ganache footballs provided by Pascale’s Bake House and chocolate and orange cupcakes.
This is not your usual country club dance with “Atlas” on the bandstand. The football players and coaches run out and start the dancing. Last year Daryl Gross was the last man standing when “New York, New York” closed the event.
Since the Foot Ball has been held at the Skaneateles Country Club, some revelers stop in at Morris’ Grill to decompress from the dance. Lauren said last year the guys signed quite a few autographs.
Tickets and reservations
There is a limited number of tickets available. For more information, to become a sponsor or to make reservations call Lauren Russo Duby Event Studio in Armory Square at 423-7022 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Still not sure whether to go? Each lady attending will receive a gift donated from Jet Black in Armory Square, while Bass Pro Shop has something in store for each gentleman.
The skinny on McPherson:
Don McPherson quarterbacked Syracuse to an unbeaten season in 1987. He led the Orangemen to a 32 – 31 victory over West Virginia in the last second of their regular schedule.
“What was interesting about our last game is we were 10 – 0 (beforehand), and we won it with literally no time on the clock,” McPherson said. “ESPN switched over to our game with two minutes left, and what people remember is our last drive of that game.”
That season ended in a 16 – 16 tie with Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. McPherson won the Maxwell Award — which goes to the nation’s top college player. He also won the Davey O’Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Award, which are presented to the nation’s best college quarterback. He was runner-up to Notre Dame’s Tim Brown in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
After S.U. the Philadelphia Eagles picked McPherson in the sixth round of the 1988 NFL Draft. The Eagles traded him to the Houston Oilers in 1990, then he went back to Philadelphia the next season. After the NFL he spent four seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1991-93) and Ottawa Rough Riders (1994).
McPherson now works as the founder and executive director of the Sports Leadership Institute at Adelphi University in Garden City. The institute attempts to examine the positive role of sports in teaching life lessons. He said community service called him and he was always involved on some level.
“The purpose of creating the institute was not just to use sports to address those issues,” he said. “But also to examine what’s going on with sports in our society.”
Editor note: Collegefootballrivals.com was used as a source.