Quite possibly the most important man in the history of the University of Florida died this morning.
Along with a team of other scientists, Cade created the popular sports drink in 1965. Since that time, Gatorade has become a boon for UF, generating $150 million in royalties for the university and helping to establish UF as a premier research institution.
Until an UF alum becomes President of The United States, Dr. Cade will be the greatest person affiliated with the University. His invention not only brought the school millions, but it's our best advertisement. What other school can boast a product with its mascot in the title?
But, Dr. Cade's invention did more than just rehydrate, replenish, and refuel athletes. In spring of 2006, I was in a sports production class and I got to sit in on an interview he did with Gatorzone. Not only was he a cool guy (his research team would discuss the drink formula over pitchers of beer), but he was more proud of the ways Gatorade was used outside of athletics in oral rehydration for children. In Third World countries, many children still die from diarrhea and cholera. Gatorade and other formulas have been used to drastically reduce the number of deaths from those illnesses.
While Dr. Cade and his fellow researchers had been at odds with UF over royalties, the University had been honoring him recently. But if UF really wants to do something to really honor Dr. Cade, I have an idea; There are plenty of water fountains on campus. So why can't we make Gatorade fountains? This even came up this weekend as we were walking from the tailgate to the stadium. How cool would it be to walk up and press one button for water and another for Gatorade? Come on, IFAS, make it happen.
To Dr. Robert Cade, we raise a glass of lemon-lime Gatorade, the Champagne of Gatorade. He is a Gator Nation Hero.