Sun Devil and Wildcat fans will get to show their school pride at Florencia Pizza Bistro in Ahwatukee tomorrow during the “Duel in the Desert” fundraiser.
The May 13 event is a friendly wager to raise funds for both Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista high school athletic departments.
The idea for the fundraiser came about during a bet that owner Val Florencia, who attended the University of Arizona, had with one of his regulars, Cameron Kastl, a former walk-on football player at Arizona State University.
Both find enjoyment in heckling one another about past sporting events that each school participated against each other in, especially during football and basketball season.
Kastl and Florencia would make minor bets with one another, a free soda or a slice of pizza, but their biggest bet came about when ASU and U of A were battling for the Territorial Cup in football this past year.
“My side of the bet was if ASU won I would get to go in and have a couple drinks and pizzas for free, and if I lost I would have to bartend for him,” Kastl said. “ASU ended up winning, so I was able to go in one night with a couple friends and Val held up the end of his bargain.”
The bet didn’t stop there. Florencia decided to double down on the bet during basketball season. With the Wildcats winning both match ups against the Sun Devils, Kastl had to bartend at Florencia Pizza Bistro for one night.
“I approached Val with the idea of making it a fundraising event to see if we can get people to come out, which would be beneficial for business and help raise some money for whatever we decided on,” Kastl said. “It was all Val’s idea to keep the fundraiser local, in regards to Mountain Pointe’s and Desert Vista’s athletic department.”
Tip jars sporting ASU and U of A decals will be at the bar during the fundraiser, and the money raised will be split in half going to both athletic departments.
“The tip jars is where the ‘Duel in the Desert’ comes into play at the restaurant. So whatever college people feel like tipping in, all that money will go directly to Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista,” Kastl said. “Also, whatever people spend on their bill during the fundraiser, 20 percent of their bill will be donated too.”
Florencia, owner of Florencia Pizza Bistro, said the event is a fun way for fans of both schools to come together in a friendly way to support local athletics, along with seeing where the stronger loyalty is between both universities.
“Doing this type of fundraiser makes the rivalry fun because it’s a chance for the community to come out and have a fun time with one another,” Florencia said. “If the first one is a success and people enjoy it, we will plan other events like this in the future.”
Florencia said to keep track on which school is winning during the fundraiser, there will be a chalkboard to indicate whether ASU or U of A is in the lead for raising the most money.
So to show off your Sun Devil or Wildcat pride, and help raise funds for Ahwatukee high school athletic departments, make sure to stop by Florencia Pizza Bistro, 3646 E. Ray Road, on May 13.
The fundraiser will begin at 5:30 p.m.
• Daniel Ochoa is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.