For South Carolina great George Rogers, this weekend is like the Super Bowl and Christmas, and then some.
A gala Sunday and golf tournament Monday will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the George Rogers Foundation, which provides scholarships that assist first-generation college students.
A lot has changed in 25 years, Rogers said.
“I can’t believe it. It’s gone by so fast,” Rogers said. “We’ve gotten a lot better in the 25 years and the university has been so tremendous in helping us to get where we’re at now.”
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Rogers recalled the early years of the foundation being “really hard” with a dozen or so teams taking part in the golf tournament. This year’s golf outing at Fort Jackson will feature more than 30 teams, and the weekend as a whole will generate upwards of $100,000 for the foundation’s year-round fund-raising efforts.
“We’ve got much more support than when we first started,” he said. “That’s because of the university and the friends I met in football, and some of it is because I do a lot of networking with other organizations that help with kids.”
Rogers, USC’s career rushing leader (5,204 yards), won the Heisman Trophy in 1980. Former teammates and Gamecocks from all eras will be a part of the events, as well as boxing great Larry Holmes and former Clemson standouts Perry Tuttle and Michael Dean Perry. USC coaches Will Muschamp, Frank Martin and Dawn Staley also are expected to take part.
A notable absence will be former USC running back Spencer Clark, who died in May. Clark played with Rogers at USC and was instrumental each year in helping the foundation organize the golf event. A new scholarship will be created in his name.
“I was looking forward to him helping me this year. He was a big part of it,” Rogers said. “He’s been helping me for the last 15 years. He’s been a great buddy of mine.”
The public is invited to Sunday’s gala at USC’s new My Carolina Alumni Center. The evening includes a live and silent auction, as well as opportunities for photo opportunities and autographs.
It’s also a chance to catch Rogers and his signature smile.
“There’s no question about it: I’m going to have a big smile on this weekend. I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s another way I take time to give back, to give kids a chance to go to school. I know if I hadn’t got my grades up and had a chance to go to school, I don’t know where I would be right now. These kids, you’ve got to give them a chance.”
IF YOU GO
What: George Rogers Foundation gala and auction
When: 5 p.m. Sunday, June 26
Where: My Carolina Alumni Center, 900 Senate St., Columbia
Cost: $60 in advance, $75 at the door. Includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, dessert, water and non-alcoholic drink. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at http://www.georgerogersfoundationofthecarolinas.org/. A cash bar will available. Dress is business casual.
Auctions: Live auction includes custom Salt Life golf cart, tailgate packages, memorabilia and more. Silent auction included items signed by Peyton Manning, Muhammad Ali, Steph Curry, George Rogers, Jackey Bradley Jr. and more.
Proceeds: Go to The George Rogers Foundation of the Carolinas, providing scholarships for first-generation college students.