Former Heisman winner helping others by being 'ordinary'

6:53 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- In a world where many professional athletes struggle after their playing days are done, former quarterback Danny Wuerffel has found comfort in being ordinary.

These are his words.

"To be able to not be extra special or not have to win to be okay, to be comfortable with who you are, I think opens the door for amazing things to happen," said Wuerffel.

In 1996, Wuerffel led the Florida Gators to a national championship while winning the Heisman Trophy. He'd climbed to the top of college football's highest mountain. His pro football career took him to New Orleans, where he found a calling.

Wuerffel joined Desire Street Ministries and an effort to make a big difference in the Big Easy.

"You hear about struggles and poverty, and it's one thing to hear about it," said Wuerffel. "It's another thing to get up close to it."

Wuerffel now leads Desire Street from its new home in Atlanta. The non-profit offers support and guidance to ministries in impoverished areas across the South, helping start everything from after-school programs to pediatric clinics.

In south Atlanta, there is support for business owners struggling to take flight. Desire Street has partnered with Metro Merge, a ministry that has helped 19-year-old Kelvin Murphy with financial support and mentoring for his clothing line.

"I would still be trying to raise money and support and not knowing much about the business life," said Murphy.

Wuerffel's life was knocked off course two years ago when he was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre syndrome, a rare disease that attacked his immune system. There were times when he could barely stand or walk.

Now 90 percent recovered, he looks back with thanks.

"To realize there is beauty in living slower, and some of the most beautiful things in life you miss when you move too fast," said Wuerffel.

He is a man who is doing extraordinary things through a dream of being ordinary.

"I believe God calls us to be faithful, not successful," said Wuerffel. "If we can be faithful, the rest works out."

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