GREAT FALLS — The crosstown rivalry in Great Falls is one of the most heated in the state.

But as much energy the two sides put into winning on the court, they put even more into helping those in need off of it. And that was never more evident than Thursday night.

The CMR chapter of HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) sold #TroyStrong shirts, raffle tickets and baked goods at the crosstown boys basketball game to raise money for Troy Ross, the 3-year-old son of Great Falls High assistant football coach Wes Ross, who is still battling a rare autoimmune disorder and faces mounting medical bills.

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After the final whistle blew in the crosstown boys basketball game, members of the group surprised a speechless Ross family with more than $800 in donations, rallying around a little boy they’d never even met.

“We actually don’t know them,” said HOSA member Taylor Santy. “But we took on a community service project to raise money for the family, because they’re a member of our community and we wanted to help them with their medical costs. Troy is 3 years old, he’s got a whole life ahead of him and we really wanted to help out.”

Troy was diagnosed with pulmonary capillaritis in the fall after a scary stay at the Seattle Children’s hospital in September. He returned home in October but is still undergoing regular treatment with the goal of putting his lifelong condition into remission.

On the outside he looks like a normal, healthy boy but on the inside he’s still very sick. The Ross family is grateful for all the support it receives, and hugged HOSA members tightly as Troy played on the basketball court with his sister Kennedy.

“You’re at a loss for words,” said an emotional Callie, Troy’s mother who teaches at Riverview elementary. “It’s hundreds of dollars, from people who have their own families and their own things that they’re dealing with and they’re more than happy to continue to donate money.”

She paused, glancing at Troy.

“It seems like it’s over with for us, and it’s not,” she said. “So it’s really encouraging to have support as the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months. This year has been long for him, so this is humbling. You just don’t have words.”

The Ross family poses with members of the CMR HOSA group, after receiving over $800 in donations. (TOM WYLIE/MTN Sports)

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