Football season may be a few weeks away, but it's never too early to start talking about it.
Former gridiron greats Josh Brock and Ronnie Brown are headlining the Etowah Scholarship Foundation's 10th Annual Tailgating for a Cause, planned for Tuesday, Aug. 14, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Clarence Brown Conference Center at 5450 Highway 20 in Cartersville.
The two athletes will be offering an "exciting and different program this year," during which they'll be "analyzing iconic plays on the overhead screens, have a question/answer session and make some predictions," ESF Operations Director Dawn Evans said.
Brock and Brown were teammates on Cartersville High School's 1999 state champion team.
An all-state offensive lineman at CHS, Brock also played at the University of Georgia, where he was named a freshman All-American guard during the Bulldogs' 2002 SEC championship season.
Now the Cartersville resident is a financial representative for Peachtree Planning of Cartersville and is a sideline color commentator for local high school football and an analyst for the Georgia Bulldog Sports Radio Network.
Brown, a Cartersville native, led the Purple Hurricanes to the 2A state football title in 1999 and was named the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Player of the Year.
He went on to become one of the greatest running backs in Auburn University history, helping to lead his team to an SEC championship, a Sugar Bowl victory and an undefeated season in 2004.
He was drafted second overall by the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and played there for six seasons, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2008. He retired from the NFL after 10 seasons.
Evans said the tailgating event is "by far" the biggest fundraiser of the year for ESF — the only foundation of its kind in the state of Georgia — and helps deserving Bartow County students attend college and reach their academic and career goals.
"This fundraiser helps us raise the necessary funds to assist the students of Bartow County with college scholarships," she said.
Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the evening will begin with regional tailgate food stations, a bar and silent auction tables featuring a number of unique items and memorabilia.
Around 7 p.m., the silent auction will close, and the live auction will begin.
"Louis Tonsmeire will help us with some incredible silent and live auction items," Evans said. "Angel Auctions will also be on hand with some amazing sports memorabilia."
At 7:15, Brock and Brown will take over and will be presenting a "completely different program this year," she added.
With 2018 being the 10th anniversary of the tailgating party, Evans said she wanted to recognize "one of our biggest supporters, Herschel Wisebram, for helping us start this event 10 years ago."
"Herschel and his wife, Ruth, both have a love for education and know the importance of it," she said. "They have donated thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of their time in helping the Etowah Scholarship Foundation be successful throughout the years. We are forever grateful for their generosity."
More than 500 people attended last year's event, and roughly $63,000 was raised for the foundation, said Evans, noting this year's goal is "to exceed $65,000."
Sponsorships and tickets are still available "but are going fast," Evans said.
Individual tickets are $60 — sales will end Friday, Aug. 3 — and reserved tables are $500.
Sponsorship levels that are available are Platinum, $2,500; Speaker, $2,500; Gold, $1,500; and Silver, $500. To see what is included at each level, visit the ESF website at etowah.org.
Century Bank of Georgia is the Presenting sponsor, and Platinum sponsors so far are AT&T and Robert Loehr Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.
"We are still seeking a Speaker sponsor," Evans said.
For information on sponsorships or anything else about the event, call the ESF office at 770-382-1757, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website.