For the first time in 42 years a USD 247 student-athlete will take part in the Kansas Shrine Bowl. McCune High School Eagle Duane Davis participated in the inaugural game in 1974. Now, senior Ryan Rakestraw is the first Southeast High School Lancer to play in the Shrine Bowl.
“It’s a great honor,” Kansas Shriner Stan Jahay said to Rakestraw. “Out of probably 1200 seniors that vowed for this game, you were chosen. We get 36 on the East Team. 36 on the West Team. We’re glad to have you.”
Rakestraw finished his football career at Southeast High School with 1,996 rushing yards, 28 rushing touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards receiving. His senior season he was named 1st Team running back and unanimous 1st Team linebacker for the All-CNC Team, was a Morning Sun 1st Team All County linebacker, was named to the Craw-Kan Southeast Kansas All-Area Football Team as a linebacker, was named one of the top 100 senior football players in the state of Kansas, and signed to play football for the Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons.
But, Jahay told Rakestraw that the football game is just a small part of what the Shrine Bowl is – it is a means to an end.
“Our goal is to help all unfortunate children with less fortunate diseases, such as clubbed feet, cleft pallet, scoliosis, children that’s got missing arms, missing legs, hands, children that’s been burnt – burnt beyond recognition,” said Jahay. “Our goal is to help all of these children we can at no cost. It doesn’t cost them a dime. Therefore it takes a lot of money to support our hospitals.”
There are 22 Shrine Hospitals and it takes about $2 million per day to operate them. The Shrine Bowl games generate money to keep the hospitals going in order to help kids.
“That’s our business,” Jahay continued. “ Yeah, we ride around cars in parades, we have a good time, we laugh and joke, but there is a serious note to everything we do.”
Like every other participant, Rakestraw and his family are responsible for helping to sell advertising in the program that will be given out on gameday. Jahay said this is how the Shrine Bowl makes most of it funding. Advertising ranges from $40 to $225 but more than 3,000 programs are given out at the game.
“All of that money goes directly to our Shrine hospitals,” said Jahay.
Rakestraw reports on July 15 to Hutchinson Community College for football there, but will be dismissed and take part in the Shrine Camp in Emporia from July 17 through July 23. Players, coaches and managers will then go to Hays, and on July 23 will experience a hospital visitation.
Jahay said 20 to 25 patients will be brought to Hays from St. Louis and throughout the state of Kansas and show the player and others what they go through on a day to day basis, such as tying their shoes with only one arm.
“They will amaze you – what they can do, what you can’t do,” Jahay told Rakestraw.
A banquet will be held on Friday July 24. Jahay said tickets are $25 per person and around 1,200 people will attend.
Then, on Saturday, a parade will be held at 10 a.m. in Hays and kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Game tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for students and can be purchased at the gate.
“It’s a great honor, from a small town like this to play in a game at that status, it’s a big deal,” Jahay said.
“It’s really a great honor – the top senior football players in the state all come together for a great cause – the Shriner’s Hospital,” Rakestraw said. “I’m really looking forward to the hospital visit with all of the little kids, and like the Shriners said, it’s more than a game and I think it’s just a really cool experience to take part in.”
Southeast High School Football Coach Jerad Hansen said he’s not surprised Rakestraw was selected, citing Ryan’s work ethic.
“He’s a tremendous worker – he works hard at everything he does,” Coach Hansen said. “He puts full effort into it and is a really great kid.”
Rakestraw and Coach Hansen both said they hope his participation in the Shrine Bowl encourages other Lancers to want to take part.
“It’s a tremendous honor for both the school and Ryan, it just shows how far our football program has come and hopefully he’s one of many to represent the school in the future.”
Rakestraw himself is being sponsored by the Mirza Kickoff Club. The Kickoff Club is paying
$500 for Rakestraw’s housing during the week in Emporia and Hays.
To purchase advertising in the Shrine Bowl program please contact Jamie Ball at 1-620-704-4205.