By Bill Foley
Colt Anderson’s “Dream Big Montana Experience” in Butte came with a message that boys and girls could not help but pick up.
They, too, can do extraordinary things if they work hard.
That is why Anderson brought in NFL players, current and former college football players and an Olympian Friday to work, play and mingle with youth from Southwestern Montana and beyond.
“People see these guys on TV, and they’re superstars,” Anderson said following the Friday morning football camp at Naranche Stadium. “In real life, they’re just normal people. They’ve done extremely good things and worked hard. They’ve gotten where they’re at because of their dedication.”
About 300 boys and girls participated in the camp. Even more took part in the family fun day that followed at the Butte Civic Center.
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The list of stars at the camp included Chase Reynolds, a former Drummond Trojan, Montana Grizzly and St. Louis/Los Angeles Ram. It included Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Conor McDermott. It included Ryan Jensen, a former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman who recently signed a four-year $42 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The list included Whitefish Olympic skier Maggie Voisin and former Montana Grizzly and current San Francisco 49er Brock Coyle. It also included former Oregon Duck Cody Carriger, former Montana Grizzly Jaison Carriger and a handful of Montana Tech and Butte High players and coaches.
At the family fun day, boys and girls got to rub elbows with the likes of Butte natives Tim Montana and Rob O’Neill. Montana is a well-known country singer who will close the “Dream Big Montana Experience” with a concert tonight at the Original Mine Yard. The concert runs from 7 to 10 p.m.
O’Neill is a former Navy SEAL who took down terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
McDermott, a native of Nashville, made the trip to the Mining City to support Anderson, a teammate on the Buffalo Bills.
“Colt is one of my best friends on the team throughout this past year,” McDermott said. “I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with him this past season. I just wanted to come up and support him. I love Montana, too.”
Like the boys and girls at the camp, McDermott said he had a ton of fun.
“It was awesome,” he said. “The kids were having a blast at all the different stations.”
The stations included various different football drills, including a timed 40-yard dash.
A series of tug-of-war contests concluded the camp.
“That was a lot of fun,” McDermott said.
Following the camp, each young athlete was given a piece of fruit, a granola bar and a chocolate milk.
“Who had fun?” Anderson asked to a group of youngsters who raised their hands high. They kept those hands raised as he asked, “Who’s coming back next year?”
Anderson and his wife Keelie started the Colt Anderson Dream Big Foundation. The non-profit Organization is dedicated to creating positive change for children by providing resources, innovative opportunities and experiences that will empower them to find there passion to dream big and succeed.
The event this week included a gala on Thursday night and concluded with a day a lot of boys and girls will remember for a lifetime on Friday.
Anderson is hoping they will leave knowing they are capable of achieving great things.
The foundation, Anderson said, is just getting started.
“This is just the start with the camp and the family fun day,” he said. “We’ve done a little bit with the kids in the schools, but this is just the start. We look forward to doing more good things for the youth in Montana.
“Everybody’s got to dream.”
Anderson walked on at the University of Montana after playing for Butte High. He has spent the last nine seasons in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills.
Currently, Anderson is a free agent.
Click here for more information about the Colt Anderson Dream Big Foundation.