Students set rivalry aside to benefit veterans

T-shirt sales benefit Reining Liberty Ranch.

Two schools are setting aside their rivalries to come together for the betterment of the community, by organizing the second annual Patriot Game.

The Patriot Game is the big showdown between rivals Traverse City West and Traverse City Central.

The two Student Senates sell t-shirts to benefit a local veteran's organization they pick together. The interview process can be intense.

â??I came out of the interview going, â??they know what they're doing.â?? I mean, these kids are serious about what they're doing,â?? said Becki Bigelow with Reining Liberty Ranch. â??I know to be selected by the Student Senates of these two schools was something heartfelt from them. It's not a fly by night decision for them. They saw something in the program.â??

The students chose to support the Reining Liberty Ranch because it helps local veterans dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

â??It affects a lot of people and they see immediate results within our community,â?? said incoming Central Senior Danny Madion.

At the ranch, veterans are paired with horses to promote physical, relational, and emotional health. The students got to experience that mission first hand Friday night

It was Madionâ??s first time on a horse. He told 7&4 News he can better understand how the horses can help the veterans relax and gain confidence.

â??Iâ??d do it again!â?? said Madion.

â??You're trusting someone to set you up on a thousand or more pound animal and ask you to let go, and let them take over. That is a big lesson in trust,â?? said Bigelow.

Veterans are honored during the big game. The football players get to meet them out on the field.

â??It's a very emotional event,â?? said former football coach and current West teacher Matt Prisk. â??For the 20 minutes or so that the ceremony lasts, people are very moved to see, and very happy to say thank you to the people we're honoring.â??

The two schools work together to plan the event, but don't let that fool you.

â??The rivalry is still definitely there and will definitely be prevalent at the Central/West game. The rivalry feeds to a really good cause. I guess that's what matters most,â?? said Madion.

The t-shirts are five dollars for students. A suggested donation of ten dollars is asked of adults.

The red shirts are for West High School and blue are for Central. The shirts will be on sale at the schools as well as several places in the community.

The big game takes place September 13 at Thirlby Field.