LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The annual Nebraska North-South Shrine Bowl game is taking place this weekend in Kearney.
The high school football all-star game is a chance for the best graduating seniors in Nebraska to represent their hometown school one final time before heading off to college.
The bowl is more than just about football, as its put on to raise money for the children who attend Shriners Hospitals. As part of the bowl festivities each year, the athletes take part in a "Beyond the Field" event at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, where they talk with former patients at Shriners hospital about what it's like to attend the hospital and how they've dealt with their disabilities.
"Hearing from the kids you realize you're really gifted and what things they can do and the obstacles they face and the circumstances they go through," said Shane Dailey Jr., a wide receiver on the North team and a Bellevue West graduate.
"You're pretty much their coach because with sports they didn't know how to play football when they were born similar to being a Shriner's patient when they were born," said Cooper Stiles, a Shriners Patient and seventh grader at an Omaha-area middle school.
"It is truly inspiring to hear these kids talk about how they've been resilient throughout the years and how they battle and it is so great to have these young men hear these stories and hopefully it motivates them for the future," said Paul Limongi, the North head coach and head coach at Omaha Burke.
For the players it's an opportunity for them to realize the Shrine Bowl is more than just a football game.
"It is just that," Dailey Jr. said. " Just learning from the kids what they have to do on a day to day basis makes that experience that much better."
"Being able to interact with the kids and find out what they're battling through and it's just a neat experience," said Mike McClanahan, a safety on the South team and Papillion-La Vista South grad. "I'm glad I got to be a part of it."
The 61st annual Shrine Bowl of Nebraska game will take place Saturday at 2:00 PM at Ron and Carol Cope Stadium Foster Field on the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus.