By Moira Blazi
For the second year in a row, Lincoln county firefighters and law enforcement have come together in support of Libby youth. The second annual “Guns and Hoses” softball matchup, sponsored by Lincoln County Unite for Youth was held on Thursday, August 9 at Libby’s Lee Gehring field.
“This is an opportunity for the kids and families to just play together,” said Maggie Anderson, Director of Unite for Youth, and although it is a lot of fun, it is also a lot of work, much of it accomplished by the group of extraordinary teens who make up Unite for Youth’s leadership committee.
“We had a lot of goals, and we are reaching those goals, we have over 40 businesses involved in this event,” youth leader Olivia Smith told The Montanian.
“This event brings everybody together in a safe and healthy environment,” said youth leader Zach Carter. “Including kids and families from Libby and Troy, working together,” added Emma Anderson.
This is no small thing in a time when both teens and their parents lead such busy, hectic lives, filled with activities and concerns which often have little common ground.
At the game, student leaders did a variety of tasks, Grant Larson and Zachary Ginther were slinging hot dogs, Drew Ginther, Alisia Kelso, and Emma Anderson helped with the silent auction and the 50-50 tickets, and Isabel Kapen and Elise Erickson ran the bounce house for little kids.
The Lincoln County law enforcement team, headed up by Brad Dodson, narrowly pulled off a 23-22 victory over the red-shirted firefighters, led by Scott Beagle.
The national anthem was beautifully sung by youth leader Emma Anderson, and the afternoon entertainment included the usual musical assortment of handpicked song snippets, musical trivia, and the 7th inning stretch favorite Sweet Caroline. Kristen Moniz-Martens was on hand to add her exquisite face-painting, and Joe and Jen McElmurry received the ‘difference maker award,’ an honor given “for an individual or couple who has gone above and beyond for the kids,” explained Anderson. The award is a tribute decided by the kids themselves.
We sit around a table and discuss people who have affected our lives, explained Smith, a lot of people in this town are really nice to kids, and we try to look at people who are not recognized. “The McElmurrys are always there wherever the kids are,” said Anderson.
Enduring triple digit temperatures, the large crowd enjoyed the game and the “bonus action” of a match between Libby high baseball and softball players and Guns and Hoses ‘all stars,’ (basically whomever was still standing.)
All the players appeared to have a great time. “This is an opportunity for the officers and firemen to disengage from the serious stuff and blow off some steam,” Unite for Youth organizer, Vel Shaver told The Montaninan.
Group leader, Maggie Anderson put it this way, “Our motto is ‘aspire to inspire,’ and that’s what happens in Unite for Youth, people say yes! We can do that.”
(picture) Unite for Youth members pose for a photo at AuntT’s Coffee Corner in Libby.