The NFL is coming to Whitefish.
Denver Broncos quarterback and Kalispell native Brock Osweiler is headlining the latest team of professional athletes attending the Whitefish Winter Classic. The 29th annual event is March 6-9, starting with a kickoff party at Casey’s in Whitefish beginning at 5:30 p.m., Thursday.
The charity event, founded by former Miami Dolphins standout Doug Betters and operated by a group of local volunteers, is the driving force behind For the Children, a nonprofit organization that helps local families with kids who need medical care outside the valley. The organization contributes more than $50,000 a year to families for travel, food, lodging and other related needs. The average age of recipients is 6, and the most common destinations for the local kids needing medical care are Seattle, Spokane and Salt Lake City.
Drawing from the familiar world of professional football, Betters, a longtime Whitefish resident, has historically rallied some of the biggest names from Montana who play football. This year’s lineup includes Osweiler, a backup quarterback for the Broncos and former Flathead High School star, as well as Colt Anderson, a Philadelphia Eagles safety and Butte native, Chase Reynolds, a former Montana Grizzly standout and St. Louis Rams running back, Shann Shillinger, an Atlanta Falcons safety and Baker native, Philadelphia Eagles’ duo Riley Cooper and Jason Kelce and Grizzlies head coach Mick Delaney. Whitefish Olympian Maggie Voisin is also slated to appear at Classic festivities.
Osweiler is returning home fresh off a Super Bowl appearance. The 23-year-old recently wrapped up his second year in the NFL as the backup behind Peyton Manning. The Broncos lost to the Seahawks 43-8.
Those who attend the Winter Classic festivities will get a chance to meet Osweiler and others at several events.
The week’s action will include an autograph session and the popular PLAY 60 Challenge at Whitefish High School on Friday, where kids can enjoy activities alongside the professional athletes. A gala dinner is Saturday night at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and will feature live and silent auctions with sports memorabilia. A champagne brunch at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant at the golf course will conclude the event at 9 a.m. Sunday.
The event helps families whose children are struggling to access medical care. The kids who benefit from the event’s proceeds are from across Western Montana. Although the funds do not cover direct medical costs, they pick up where insurance leaves off, assisting families who need it.
“More than one member of our family has been helped through the Whitefish Winter Classic and we cannot possibly put into words how it has and continues to improve our family’s everyday lives,” a mother whose child benefitted from Winter Classic support, told the organization.
For a full event listing, visit the Winter Classic website.
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