Seth Dixon was taken aback when he and the rest of the athletes playing in the annual East-West Shrine game visited the Shriners Hospital in Portland.
“It just kind of blew me away,” the recent Powder Valley High School graduate said. “When they started throwing figures and stuff out there, it was kind of amazing. It literally froze me. It was that dramatic.
“You go there, see the statistics and money, it kind of puts you in awe of how they put it all together.”
The visit, which the athletes took Friday, had a similar impact on recent Imbler graduate Brandon McGilvray.
“Going to the hospital was a really cool experience,” he said. “It really opened your eyes to all the things that people are willing to do for others.”
McGilvray said what he saw and experienced shows “what people are actually like” and gives a ray of hope as opposed to shootings and crimes that are almost commonplace on the news.
“It gives you faith back in humanity,” he said.
The pair are among several athletes from around the state who will play in the 65th annual East-West Shrine All-Star Football Game Saturday in Baker.
But the game is going to be hard pressed to surpass the visit to the hospital for Dixon, even though it provides another opportunity to take the field.
“It’s such a great experience to have seen that stuff, why you’re here and what you’re playing for,” he said.
McGilvray added that, because of what they are playing for, there is no pressure.
“You’re doing it for a good cause,” he said. “We’re all here for one reason.”
Enterprise’s Trent Bales was a late addition to the roster after an injury opened up a spot, so he missed out on the visit to the hospital.
Still, he’s excited about the chance to play one more football game.
“I got called and obviously said, ‘Yes,’” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think it’s the game everyone dreams of playing as their last football game. It’s a pretty big privilege to come play in the game.”
Both McGilvray and Bales mentioned Thyler Monkus and Dylan Grogan, of Stanfield, as a couple of the players they were looking forward to playing alongside at the game.
McGilvray also named Heppner’s Logan Grieb and Kevin Murray.
Dixon said he’s excited to play with Crane’s David Steeves and Sherman’s Maverick Winslow, whom he’s gotten to play with in past events, but also Baker’s Marcus Plumley.
“I’ve never got a chance to play football with him. I think that’ll be fun,” he said.
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday in Baker City.