Nearly two dozen former UCLA quarterbacks rally for charity

Gary Beban is the only Heisman Trophy winner in UCLA history. Troy Aikman is the school’s only quarterback to win three Super Bowls. Cade McNown is the only one going 4-0 against USC.

Who was the greatest quarterback during his time as a bruin? Maybe you just have to ask her yourself.

The UCLA Legends are among the school’s 22 quarterbacks who will attend a charity fundraiser at the Luskin Center on April 15 that will benefit UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital.

What is billed as the largest gathering of former quarterbacks on campus will include walk-ons and Hall of Famers, some of whom have thrown just a handful of passes and others who have guided the Bruins to Rose Bowl victories.

“It’s all inclusive,” said Patrick Cowan, the main organizer of the event as well as the organizer of UCLA’s 13-9 win over No. 2 USC in 2006. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a starter, a Rose won have bowl, won a Heisman, took some snaps – we shared something together on campus at one point. This is a Bruin family forever, it’s not just the few years you play.”

UCLA radio station Josh Lewin, who will host “An Evening with the UCLA Quarterback Club,” should have his pick of inspirational stories beyond panellists Beban and Aikman. Rick Neuheisel became the Rose Bowl champion from the walk-on. John Barnes watched the USC rivalry game in the stands one year and led the Bruins to a 38-37 win over the Trojans the next year, a star turn that earned him a cameo role as an Alabama quarterback in Forrest Gump brought in.

The quarterbacks are expected to attend UCLA spring training earlier in the day, giving coach Chip Kelly some additional options if he doesn’t like what he’s told by five-star freshman Dante Moore, highly-rated transfer Collin Schlee and incumbents Ethan Garbers and Justyn sees Martin.

The idea for the fundraiser came after a 2018 lunch at a Long Beach restaurant honoring former coach Terry Donahue. Beban, who was among the 16 quarterbacks who showed up that day, suggested to Cowan that the group should use their platform for something more meaningful than just connecting with each other.

The quarterbacks championed a UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital special needs fund, which provides funds for unexpected expenses like transporting severely immunocompromised children and hiring staff to meet the needs of specialized patients.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of what we can do together to benefit others.

– Former UCLA quarterback Patrick Cowan

“I consider it a privilege to spend my time playing a game to create value for such an important UCLA faculty and individuals who deserve all the support we can muster,” Beban said.

The goal is to raise $250,000 through sponsorships, donations, ticket sales and a silent auction. In addition to autographed helmets and footballs, jerseys signed by quarterbacks who played in each decade from the 1960s to the 2020s will be auctioned. The event begins at 5 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a panel discussion.

The quarterbacks not only want to connect with each other, but also with fans who have adored them for years, if not decades. Cowan said a fan told him he met his wife on the night of UCLA’s epic uproar of USC in 2006, and another said the win allowed him to hold his head up to members that Christmas of the Trojan family.

“I think the legend of it just keeps growing,” Cowan said. “When you play, you only play for your buddies, you don’t understand the bigger aspect of it and how this game can touch so many people, and you understand better and better over the years what that means it’s special.”

If all goes well, a similar fundraiser will be held every two years.

“Hopefully,” said Cowan, “this is just the beginning of what we can do together to benefit others.”

Tickets are $1,250 each, and table sponsors are available for $10,000 and $25,000. For more information, see or call (310) 569-9657.

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