“Let the strong legs run so the weak legs may walk.”
That quote was shared with La Grande graduate Isaac Chamberlain and the rest of the athletes taking part in the 66th annual East-West Shrine Football game at 7 p.m. Saturday night in Baker City.
“That’s definitely a huge part of what we’re going (to play) for,” Chamberlain said. “It’s one of the best quotes I’ve ever heard.”
Chamberlain and the other players in the Shrine Game are part of an event that helps raise money for the Shriners Hospital for Children, which according to the Shrine Game’s website “is the only pediatric health care system in the United States that provides care and services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.”
It’s a game Chamberlain has wanted to be a part of for several years.
“It’s an honor to play. I’ve been wanting to play this game since I was a little kid,” he said. “Going to the fair (growing up), seeing the (players) with the jerseys on — I’ve wanted to do it since then.”
Of course, there is the desire to play the game for the simple fact of getting on a football field one more time.
That definitely has a meaning for Chamberlain, who wants a chance to get the taste of his last football game out of his mouth — La Grande’s 24-21 quarterfinal loss to Marshfield last November.
“Nobody expected us to go as far as we did,” he said. “We had the lead (in that game), ended up losing by three. It’s good to get that feeling of, ‘I get one more shot to go out with a bang.’”
But it’s more than just playing a football game for Chamberlain. It’s the opportunity to help those less fortunate.
“It’s about something way bigger than life,” he said.
Before they even take the practice field, the players get an opportunity to visit the Shriners Hospital in Wilsonville. Typically that includes meeting some of the patients they are playing for.
Chamberlain said they didn’t get that chance this year since they went on a weekend, but they did get to tour the facility and hear from speakers who had been helped by the Shriners.
That included Cylie Lagao, who will serve as the Shrine Game queen for the East team, which Chamberlain is playing on.
“What I took away from it was that there’s a lot of kids who may not be given the same opportunities you are given,” he said. “They’re out there fighting for their lives or to walk on their own feet. I’ve always put it as they’re the cool kids. They’re out there busting their butts trying to make their lives better.
“And (yet) they look up to us. We’re a role model. (If) we represent good personality and good drive, it shows them they can do it. They look up to us, and they take away what we do and use it as their fuel. It’s giving them confidence in themselves because of what we’re doing for them.”
Because of that, Chamberlain and the other players want to put their full effort into Saturday night’s game.
“We’re going to go out there and give it 100 percent. Even though it’s an East-West Shrine Game, we’re all one big team,” he said.