FRANKLIN — For most high school football standouts, the action on the gridiron means everything. But several all stars from Franklin High School have learned a perspective that comes with doing something greater.
The Franklin High School football team was one of the state’s best last year. So it’s not surprise. But it is rare to have five seniors from one team chosen to play in the Wisconsin Football Coaches All-Star Game that kicks off July 16th at UW-Oshkosh.
“It’s a great honor being able to to be selected by the whole state and they’re all looking at you and these five players up here; we represent Franklin. It’s amazing,” said Ben McCarthy, Franklin High School linebacker.
The best part is that every player has to raise $750 to benefit Children’s Hospital — some raise more. The Franklin all stars worked hard to collect $2,000 during a charity benefit last Thursday, at Point After Pub & Grille.
“Great kids all the way through four years of high school. They’ve done nothing but represent the community in a very psoitive way, and to do this for Children’s Hospital is just fantastic,” said Franklin High School Assistant Coach, Mike Beck.
“It’s not that hard when we have our whole team, all the parents helping out, donating money. The whole community comes together helping out,” said Gavin Beck, Franklin High School senior running back.
“My sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago, and she went to Children’s Hospital for the first day when she got diagnosed. Kind of gets back to what they did for me, with my sister — so I’m happy that I was able to do this for them,” said Kobe Knaak, Franklin High School senior defensive back.
“To be able to give back to kids who haven’t been as lucky or blessed as I am, to have grown up healthy and to have all the privileges that I have in my life, and to be able to give back to them — that’s what it’s all about,” said Zak Baudry, Franklin High School senior defensive end.
“To raise all this money for the hospital and there’s hundreds of us, and I believe there’s $100,000 raised every year and I think that really helps them out,” said Sam Ruetz, Franklin High School senior center.
Of course, the wonderful work done at Children’s Hospital touches countless youngsters and their families.
“My daughter had brain surgery at Children’s Hospital when she was 14. So, ever since then she wanted to be a nurse. So it’s close to our hearts, as is our Franklin football team,” said Mark Mastrostefano, Point After Pub & Grille co-owner.
It’s also close to the hearts of the Braovac family. Luka was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago at the age of six.
“He’s always loved athletics. In with the football team, obviously he loves soccer. He’s struggled with the brain tumor, he’s had courage that is really inspiring for all of us,” said Bob Braovac, Luka’s father.
“You know, you see these healthy kids and all you ever want is for your kid to be healthy and playing sports and doing normal things — so, I don’t know I guess there’s not much better than that,” said Carolanne Braovac, Luka’s mother.
That certainly resonated with the Franklin football players, who impressed everyone including their proud moms.
“I’m extremely proud; I’m so excited for all the boys to play in this charity event and raise money,” said Kerstin Hefter, Gavin Beck’s mother.
“We didn’t realize how much of an impact Children’s Hospital was going to make on our lives. Without them, our daughter may not be here today,” said Christi Knaak, Kobe Knaak’s mother.
“It’s just amazing how they feel that they want to give back in this way, and they feel that they’re doing something. We’re doing something in the community, but they’re doing something even more,” said Christine Baranoucky, Children’s Hospital.
The five Franklin football players weren’t done giving — they signed a Sabers shirt and handed it off to Luka Braovitz, who turns nine-years-old on May 14th.
It’s Franklin’s fantastic five, a Sabers group of all stars who are definitely a winning combination.
Over the past nine years, the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star Game has raised $3 million for Children’s Hospital.