GREAT FALLS — In just over a week the 75th annual Montana East-West Shrine football game will get underway at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls. The mission of the game is to raise money and awareness for the Shriners Children Hospital in Spokane.
But if you can’t make it to the game, or if football is not your thing, there are still ways you can support the mission.
Some Great Falls businesses are selling products to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the game, with a portion of the proceeds donated directly to the hospital. That includes The Popcorn Colonel, which is offering souvenir tins for the 75th game, filled with red and gold Strawberry Shortcake popcorn.
“I mean, it's for the kids, for the adults, for everyone that has that has those needs that the Shriner’s can help,” said owner Gary Hochberger. “And just in a small way, us little mom and pop shops in Great Falls, Montana, just like to do our little part.”
For coffee lovers, Morning Light Coffee Roasters has created a Shriners Blend.
“We donate a dollar per pound to the Shriners and we've done quite well with this coffee,” said owner Mike Myers. “I have a person over in Plentywood that always drinks our Columbia French, but after he drank this Shriners coffee, it's all he’s ordering now. So that's pretty cool.”
For the Myers family, the cause is personal. His brother Eddie was a patient at the Shriner Hospital for much of his childhood.
“When he was born he had brittle bone disease which came with a 10-year life expectancy. When he turned 10, it was 17 years,” Myers said. “And when he died, it was still a 17-year life expectancy, and he made it to 56 years old. He also became a historian, then went on to become a lawyer for the handicapped.”
Mike’s daughter Erin Evenhus said Eddie likely would have never reached adulthood if not for the care at the Shriners Hospital.
“I just think it's amazing what the Shriner's hospital did for my uncle Eddie’s life,” Evenhus said. “And that's always kind of stayed with us.”
Buying popcorn or coffee might seem like a small act, but it’s an important one - and you can use Eddie’s life as an example.
“He didn't believe he was handicapped," Myers said. “So, you know, when we'd say, ‘Ggeez, Eddie, it's gonna be tough,’ he would always say ‘No, it's not tough. I can do this.’ And he would do it. So he was pretty strong.”
The East-West Shrine football game is set for Saturday, June 18, at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on MTN stations across the state.
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