Caden Brown and Zach Paterson got late starts to their athletic careers.
Thanks to the help of a couple of facilities dedicated to helping children, they both are playing football now.
Both promised to play the game as long as they could, too.
Saturday, the teammates played in one of the early games at the Freedom Bowl Classic. The event, headlined by a game between recent high school graduates from Southwest Washington, also has two Clark County Youth Football games in the afternoon. Proceeds go to Shriners Hospitals.
Brown and Paterson played for the Mustangs.
A few years ago, there was no way they could play the game.
Brown received medical care from Shriners. After being born with bad heels he was forced to walk on his toes. When he was 5, he had full-length casts on both legs, then gradually moved to braces. Now 10, he only wears the leg braces at night as is strong enough to play football during the day.
“I want to say thank you to them by playing a game for them,” Brown said. “They helped me with my braces. They helped me with my legs and helped me have a good life.”
Paterson also walked on his toes until he had double Achilles lengthening surgery. He received his care at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. While this event is for Shriners, Paterson was proud to represent all youngsters who have had to deal with serious struggles while growing up.
“It feels pretty good to know that we are helping out,” Paterson said. “We’re raising money for them by playing this game. It’s a good way to show I appreciate what they do.”
Note: The Cardinals beat the Mustangs 12-7 in the fourth/fifth-grade game. The Titans beat the Falcons 45-31 in the sixth-grade game.