Georgia players choose Athens school to receive G-Day proceeds

ATHENS -- The proceeds for Saturday’s G-Day game are headed to downtown Athens.

Downtown Academy, that is.

Georgia football players decided on the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school as the beneficiary for from this year’s intrasquad game. UGA charged $10 per ticket to help manage the demand for social-distanced seating and to create a philanthropic opportunity for the team. UGA players and staff took a $100,000 check to the school Thursday.

It was the players’ themselves who chose Downtown Academy. It became the fourth project for the “Dawgs For Pups” initiative they started last fall.

“We have come so far, but we have so far to go,” said Cortez Hankton, Georgia’s wide receivers coach and a primary force for rallying the players toward making positive social impact. “Why is ‘Dawgs For Pups’ so important? Our student-athletes can be catalysts for change. Our student-athletes want to have connections with our community and local youth. Serving and building our future is important to the UGA Athletic Association. We have a responsibility to provide meaningful opportunities for our student-athletes to serve our community.”

Seniors Jamaree Salyer and Jake Camarda and juniors Lewis Cine, Nakobe Dean and Kearis Jackson joined Hankton and other athletic association staff at Downtown Academy on Thursday to surprise students and administrators with the gift.

“I am proud of our student-athletes for their idea to give all of the proceeds from G-Day back to the youth in our community and grateful to the Bulldog faithful for their unwavering support,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a news release. “Serving Athens is important and will continue to be a priority for Georgia football through the ‘Dawgs For Pups’ program.”

Downtown Academy, a division of Downtown Ministries, is a privately funded school that “seeks to provide an excellent and rigorous Christ-centered education that builds knowledge, character and purpose,” according to the school website.

Downtown Academy’s board president, Chris Byrd, said the student were “blown away” by the gift and messages from players. The gift “will make a difference in the lives of kids in our community for years to come,” he said.