Fortner Named to SEC Community Service Team
University of Kentucky senior offensive guard Luke Fortner has been named to the 2020 Southeastern Conference Community Service Team, it was announced today. The SEC names a Community Service Team for each of its 21-league sponsored sports, looking to highlight an athlete from each school who gives back to his community through superior service efforts.
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. He 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.
In addition to “In the Huddle with KCH,” Fortner and his teammates got creative in how they could continue their weekly visits with KCH patients. Each week, Fortner spends 1-1.5 hours on Zoom calls with patients who are currently “in-patient” at KCH. They discuss football, favorite hobbies, favorite color, etc. Patients ask the players questions about anything and everything. Fortner and his teammates always offer up words of encouragement. Zoom calls are intimate because it’s just one patient with Fortner and his teammates for about 7-10 minutes each so the focus is all on one patient at a time.
More of Fortner’s community service projects:
- Volunteered with other engineering students at UK’s 2020 “Engineers Day” to celebrate engineering and showcase the “Lift Them Up” cart
- Volunteer at Urban Impact at the Woodhill Community Center, an organization that strives to enable youth to grow, succeed and lead
- Volunteer reader at Athens-Chilesburg Elementary
- Volunteer for Read Across America at Fayette County public schools
- Volunteered with Habitat for Humanity
Fortner is currently a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, given to the top community servant in college football. He’s also one of 11 FBS players named to the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.