WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Lincoln High School football will play host to a special “Raiders Salute” game this Friday.
In their last game of the season, the 5-3 Red Raiders will take on D.C. Everest, and the story isn’t just of the Raiders successful season, but how players are giving back to the military. For six years now the Red Raiders have turned the last home game of the season into a “community” game, where players help raise money for those in need.
In the first three years, the squad raised over $25,000 for the UW Cancer Center, and over the past three years, the “Raider Salute” game has donated proceeds to the ‘Never Forgotten Honor Flight”, which sends local veterans to Washington D.C. to receive high honors. This year looks to be no different from previous years.
“Everything we do for fundraising is for something else — it’s not going back to the football program,” said Head Coach Tony Biolo. “It’s a way for our athletes to give back to something greater than themselves.”
Some Lincoln football staff are veterans and police officers, and according to Biolo, players have taken notice of the leadership that comes with those roles. Lincoln joins the efforts of many other high schools in the region and around the country with similar games and fundraising events.
“This has nothing to do with the timing of the NFL, as we’ve been doing this for years,” said Biolo.
Players have extended efforts to raise money by selling t-shirts, and have even made trips to the Heroes’ Cafe to share doughnuts with veterans. For this year, all t-shirts sold will have three paint stripes — to honor police officers, fire fighters, and military veterans, respectively. This game is the culmination of a long held respect for the military, as players have rushed onto the field before every home game waving the American flag.
According to Coach Biolo, players have stepped up in the fundraising efforts.
“They go out and get 20 or 30 t-shirts sold,” said Biolo on the response of players to raise money for the game. “We see an big uptick in response, and I think it’s easier for people in the community to get behind the military for a game because it affects everybody. Everyone knows someone that’s in the military and they’re willing to support that.”
This year’s game will feature the National Guard, who will fire a cannon for every score, and joining Lincoln players in the tunnel before the game will be veterans and members of the military. A Spirit helicopter will fly over the game before the national anthem, and colors will be presented by the American Legion Riders District 8, Vietnam Veterans Chapter 101, and VFW Post 2534.
The team also received a donation from Hughes Ford in Milladore to purchase flags from all branches of the military for the team to enter the field with. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. at the SWC 2000 Football Field.