I don’t know who this’ll be more popular amongst, Alabama fans or Auburn fans. Or who’d more want to take a shot at him.
Regardless, Harvey Updyke, the Alabama fan who poisoned the famed oak trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner a couple of years ago, has agreed to appear at a charity function in Mobile, Ala., next month, ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach reported. At this charity event, which is being held to raise funds for a family whose young son died of cancer last month, “fans will be allowed to either dunk [Updyke] in a dunking booth or throw pies at his face,” Schlabach wrote.
Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and his mother are helping raise awareness to the event, but it’s Updyke’s (potential) presence that’ll trigger the most attention nationally. The event’s organizer, Alabama fan T.J. Hodges, stated the “Updyke idea came from me thinking outside the box to raise money for the family” and that “I thought I’d take a chance and see if Harvey was interested in helping, and he said he’d do whatever we wanted.”
It did, though, take Updyke a while to get to that point.
“He thought about it and thought about it,” Updyke’s wife, Elva, told Schlabach. “His daughter said he needed to do it because it will show that he’s not as big of a nut as some people believe. He told them they can do whatever they want to him if it will raise money for kids.”
Updyke, as “Al from Dadeville,” infamously called into the Paul Finebaum radio show in February of 2011 and claimed to have poisoned the Toomer’s oaks after Auburn beat Alabama in the 2010 Iron Bowl. He was subsequently arrested, charged and ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of criminal damage of an agricultural facility, a Class-C felony. He was sentenced to three years in jail — he served 180 days of the sentence — and was placed on supervised probation for a period of five years. During that probationary period, he has a 7 p.m. curfew.
Additionally, Updyke, who now lives in Louisiana less than an hour from the LSU campus, was ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution and has been barred from the following: any Auburn University property, any collegiate sporting event and speaking to the media.
While there was initial hope that the oaks could be saved, they were ultimately taken down after one final roll. New trees are expected to be planted next year.
UPDATE (8:20 p.m.): Who would have thought the opportunity to throw a pie in the face or dunk infamous Alabama fan Harvey Updyke in water would take a turn for the worse? OK, it was probably inevitable.
Upon the announcement that Updyke would make an appearance at a charity function in Mobile, Ala. for children with cancer, it turned ugly. The mother, Dee Dee Bonner, and wife, Katherine Webb, of former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron both received death threats on social media due to their help organizing the event. As a result, Updyke’s appearance has been cancelled.
“It seems to be taking away from the primary purpose, which is raising awareness for children’s cancer,” Bonner told ESPN.com. “We don’t want to take away from the focus. We needed to get away from it.”
“I think Mr. Updyke’s heart was in the right place with what he wanted to do, but I think too many people are still upset about what he did and haven’t gotten over it. I didn’t approve of what he did, but I think he really wanted to help.”
“We want to focus on the real heroes, which are these children fighting for their lives and their families.”