Heisman winner headlines annual Back to School Bash

Published 3:59 pm Friday, July 12, 2013

Former University of Florida standout Danny Wuerffel will headline the 11th annual Back to School Bash.

Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, played six seasons in the National Football League before retiring to work full time with Desire Street Ministries, a ministry founded by Mo and Ellen Leverett in 1990.

Desire Street Ministries was created to serve New Orleans and particularly the Ninth Ward, which is one of the most dangerous and crime plagued areas in the country, with the goal of seeing the impoverished neighborhood revitalized through spiritual and community development.

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Wuerffel first became involved with Desire Street Ministries in 1997 when he was a rookie with the New Orleans Saints.

“I heard about what they were doing and I was blown away. I reached out to them and got involved immediately. I just wanted to be a part of it,” Wuerffel said in a 2009 interview with a New Orleans newspaper.

Wuerffel is now more involved than ever. He became executive director of Desire Street Ministries in 2006 after Leverett resigned.

In 2008, the Desire Street Ministries headquarters moved to Atlanta in order to increase the vision set years ago in New Orleans of encouraging and empowering local leaders across the country to transform their neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.

Today, Desire Street Ministries partners with ministries in Dallas, Lakeland, Fla., Atlanta and Montgomery.

Wuerffel, a two-time All-American that led the Gators to the 1996 National Championship and was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, is a sought-after speaker sharing how his experiences playing football have helped shape his life. He has written one book, “Danny Wuerffel’s Tales from the Gator Swamp:  Reflections of Faith and Football.”

Event organizer Allen Stephenson said his organization hopes that students attending the Back to School Bash will find answers to life’s biggest question through Wuerffel’s message.

“We keep doing this because we continue to see that our youth are searching for meaning in life and we want to convey that true fulfillment is only found in a relationship with Jesus,” Stephenson said.

The event will be held at the Hank Williams Music Park Aug. 2 at 6 p.m.

Attendees will be treated to a hotdog dinner. The Community Youth Association has also purchased 1,000 Bibles to pass out to students in attendance.

The Next Level Band will also perform at the free event.