HELENA — Though the Helena High and Butte soccer teams squared off on the pitch on Saturday, the two programs combined to do something greater than the game. On Saturday, the Bengals hosted Butte for their annual "Give Cancer the Boot" game with a ceremony dedicated to those who have been affected by cancer. Approximately $3,000 worth of donations were collected in the week leading up to the game were accepted and to be given to the American Cancer Society.
“When I was volunteering for things at the beginning of the year the "Give Cancer the Boot" game was always something that I’ve felt pretty strongly about,” said Kimberly Cook, a parent to a Helena High boys soccer player.
Cook said they chose to shake things up this year, where instead of people giving straight-up donations, Bengals soccer introduced the per goal pledge. For each goal scored, people would pledge a set number of dollars. For the Helena High girls, that was definitely a motivator in Saturday afternoon’s 10-0 win for the Bengals.
“I feel like that was a really good incentive just to score goals even on the field. Like we're all thinking, the more goals we score, the more money we can get to help people out,” said Meghan Rake, a senior for the Bengals.
“It was like a great motivator for us to score as many as possible because it was for a good cause and we had fun doing it,” said Brogan Vranka.
“To be able to do what we'd love to do and raise awareness and money for cancer while we're doing it is really special,” said McCoy Vranka.
This year was also the first time that Helena High had asked the opposing team to also participate in the event, and it was something near and dear to both the Butte soccer teams.
“Abby Ricketts graduated last year," said Butte's Emma Quist. "She's fighting it right now. She's totally doing an amazing job with [chemotherapy]. And the boys coach's son actually, Kyler Carpenter, is cancer-free as of right now. He just got out of chemo and we are just so happy to be representing them.”
“I'm just glad we can like raise awareness for Kyler and Abby,” said Butte's Taylor Burke.
“This is our first year doing it. But it kind of hits home with us with our coach's son Kyler going through cancer treatment,” said Joe Phillip.
“My aunt had breast cancer, so it just hits home for me and then my coach's son has cancer. So, it just really hits home,” said Eddie Kazmierczak.
For the Helena High boys, the addition of the Bulldog players was a great thing, because it means more money to a great cause.
“I think it's great that we got to get the other team out here to help us out raise money for a good cause. And you know, cancer is out there, like there's a lot of people who struggle with it and I think it's good. I mean the more the merrier, right?" said Helena High boys senior Porter Coil.
But that doesn’t mean Helena High's 3-2 win wasn’t a hard-fought one.
“It feels pretty cool that we can collaborate with them, but I don't think that'll change the attitude on the field. I think it'll be still a pretty competitive game,” said Jasper Cook ahead of Saturday's tilt.
The approximately $3,000 collected was donated to the American Cancer Society.