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Griz for a day
Sabin DeGarmo, 7, leaps for a high-five from Montana kicker Chris Snyder on Thursday afternoon during the Griz Fun Day at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Photo by KURT WILSON/Missoulian

UM athletes share football, fun with Missoula Youth Homes kids

The University of Montana Grizzly football team had a few extra players Thursday.

About 40 kids from the Missoula Youth Homes came to Washington-Grizzly Stadium to partake in Griz Fun Day, an afternoon with Grizzly athletes.

Missoula Youth Homes cares for abused and at-risk children in six group homes in the Missoula area. The group also has a number of children living with foster parents.

The Griz Fun Day attendees ranged in age from 4 to 17 and participated in a series of activities that included an obstacle course and football throw. At the end of the day, the group had a pizza party and everyone got a ribbon. Grizzly athletes also gave awards to the kids.

"It's really great to give the kids a chance to meet their heroes," said Kim Anderson, MYH development director.

The event has been going on for about five years, and coordinator Erin Williams said the football team has been very supportive of the event over the years.

Foster parent Norman Parmiter said his kids look forward to the event.

"It's been really good for our kids to be with the other kids," he said.

Norman's son, 11-year-old Dustin, is about to enter the Little Grizzly football program. Dustin Parmiter said he liked the running, throwing and catching with the real Grizzly athletes.

Mike Peterson has come to practice with the grizzlies for a few years now. His favorite activity has been the player carry, in which the 14-year-old Meadow Hill student has to carry a football player as far as he can on his back.

"It's just that it could show how tough you were," he said.

Grizzly defensive tackle Alan Saenz, a sophomore, said the greatest thing about playing with the kids is all of their energy. Saenz helped with the obstacle course, where the kids run through cones and try to score. The event is one that the Grizzlies actually do during practice.

"All these volunteers are just happy to have fun with these kids," Saenz said.

Senior linebacker Brent Meyers said the event was designed to give back to the kids. Meyers helped with a mini-scrimmage with the kids. He said the event put nothing but smiles on the kids' faces.

"This is big time to them," he said.

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