By Susan Lax, UK Athletics
University of Kentucky senior offensive guard Luke Fortner has been named one of the nine semifinalists for The 2020 Wuerffel Trophy, known as "College Football's Premier Award for Community Service." Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy-winning-quarterback Danny Wuerffel from the University of Florida, the Wuerffel Trophy is awarded to the college football players who serve others, celebrate their positive impact on society, and inspire greater service in the world. The award has honored over 1,300 nominees since its inception in 2005.
Fortner, of Sylvania, Ohio, graduated in December of 2019 with a degree in mechanical engineering and is currently working on a master's degree in mechanical engineering. Fortner put his degree to good use last fall when he, along with other UK engineering students, played a significant role in helping a team of Toyota Manufacturing engineers design, test and manufacture a specially-built push cart vehicle through a project called "Lift Them Up." The push cart vehicle provides a Kentucky Children's Hospital patient the chance to both accompany the Wildcats on the Cat Walk and attend a game at Kroger Field.
Because of his experience with project "Lift Them Up," Fortner was compelled to continue making an impact at the Kentucky Children's Hospital. He began visiting the kids in September of 2019 as part of the "Tuesdays with the Wildcats" program, created by former Wildcat C.J. Conrad in 2018.
When COVID19 hit, Fortner didn't want to stop interaction with the kids so, along with teammate Max Duffy, they asked what they could do. With the help of the Child Life team at the Kentucky Children's Hospital, they set up a program called "In the Huddle with KCH." For eight weeks, Fortner and Duffy taped a video of themselves answering questions from kids who submitted through the Kentucky Children's Hospital Facebook Page. The video was then posted back to the KCH Facebook page every Tuesday morning to replace what would have been their in-person visit.
- This opportunity was open to all Wildcat fans, not just KCH patients. During a difficult time for our nation, Fortner and Duffy provided a fun time for young fans to forget about the virus for even a short time to share a smile.
- Questions ranged from why they got into football, why they chose UK and what their favorite football memory is to performing their favorite dance and naming their favorite Disney princess.
- Questions were submitted from all around the state as well as submissions from Wildcat fans in Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio.