GREAT FALLS — This week’s out and about has us in Memorial stadium where right now, high schoolers from across Montana are preparing for the 75th East West Shrine Game. If you’re unfamiliar it’s a lot more than a football game.
Great Falls has been host to two teams this week, getting ready to duke it out at Memorial Stadium. It’s been a few full days of intense practice and competition but that’s only part of what this week is about.
Charlie Brown is a game coordinator for the East team and is very familiar with the Shrine game. Both he and his father played in it and has made it a priority to stay connected now that he is done with coaching
“The game runs pretty deep in my family. I was able to coach in it a few times. My dad played in 1949, and I played in 1977. I’ve just always wanted to do what I could to help with the Shriners and help with the game,” Brown said. “It’s a great cause, raising money for the Shriner’s hospital. It was just kind of the next step after retiring from coaching.
The game is played to raise money for patients in the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Spokane, with some of them and representatives in attendance to help celebrate the week and to also ensure it’s a fun, competitive game.
John RattlingTail is one of the local Shriner’s patients who was able to catch practice and meet the teams. He was born with a fibular hemimelia which forced doctors to amputate his leg as a baby. He still enjoys life like any other kid and says the Shrine game is a big deal for kids like him.
“The team showed me how to throw the ball, how to hold it properly. We all took a group photo. It was very refreshing to see other people that care for the Shriner’s,” RattlingTail said. “Obviously as a Shriner patient myself I have a deep care for it. It’s taught me that teamwork just anywhere is very important to succeed.”
The last 10 games have brought in more than a million dollars for the hospital. Although the action centers around the gridiron, there’s plenty more than the game. Mandy Brumwell is the Program chair and a parent of a Shriner’s patient so being part of the 75th game means a lot for them. From meetings to player selection, she says the plan for the next year’s game starts right after the game is over.
“It’s huge to see this week unfold, all the kids coming together, the amazing game they put on, the money we raise. It’s a yearlong effort,” Brumwell said. “We actually kick things off Friday,” she added. “Friday morning we start it off with our mini cheer camp. It’s $20, ages 3 and up, anyone is welcome. Friday evening we have our player recognition banquet. Saturday morning at 11 there will be a Shrine Game parade. 75 years of having a parade on game morning.
The game is Saturday June 18th, at 7 pm.