Area businesses chip in on travel costs for little league parents

2011-08-25T11:04:00Z 2011-08-26T00:15:44Z Area businesses chip in on travel costs for little league parents

Gazette Staff

The Billings Gazette
August 25, 2011 11:04 am  • 

It’s not cheap for the families of the Big Sky Little League All-Stars to be with the team in South Williamsport, Pa., during its historic run through the Little League World Series.

So businesses and residents around Billings and the state are stepping up to the plate to give them a hand.

Universal Athletics at 24 24th St. W. is selling Big Sky Little League All-Stars shirts for $10, with all proceeds going to the league.

A donation fund has been set up at First Interstate Bank to help family members of the Big Sky players pay for their trip to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.

The funds will be equally divided among the families, many of which are taking unpaid leave from their jobs to make the trip.

Those wishing to donate can send donations to: Hello Williamsport Fund, First Interstate Bank, Attn: Amy Carter, PO Box 30918, Billings MT, 59106.

Hooligan’s Sports Bar, at 109 N. Broadway, and the Vig Alehouse, at 501 Hilltop Road, are collecting donations for the fund from customers and will match every dollar collected.

Sean Graves, owner of both businesses, said his cousin, Dawson Smith, who plays for the team, asked if there was anything he could do to help the team, because the costs for families are quickly piling up.

During Wednesday night’s game versus California, they raised more than $1,300. Graves said the fundraising will go through the weekend.

“I’m pretty happy with what we’ve got already, and I expect a huge day on Saturday,” he said. “It’s not just paying for them to go out and have the time of their lives, it’s to help them out.”

Buffalo Wild Wings will donate a percentage of its game-day sales to the Little League travel fund as long as the Big Sky All-Stars keep playing, marketing director Mike Bilanski said after Wednesday night’s game.

Bilanski said that every day the Big Sky team plays, Buffalo Wild Wings will donate 10 percent of its daily sales from the entire day, not just during the game. He said the restaurant raised more than $1,200 on Wednesday.

In Glasgow, Farm Equipment Sales and the Glasgow Cal Ripken League, a youth baseball organization for kids ages 7 to 13, have teamed up to raise money for the Big Sky All-Stars as well. The business started by donating $500 and then challenged people and businesses in the community to contribute as well.

Stacie Rhoads, league treasurer, said they’ve raised a little more than $1,000 so far and are still going strong.

“Everything will come to us and we will donate it right back to the Big Sky All-Stars, she said.”

For Montanans on the East Coast who want to go to the game, the Montana State Society of Washington, D.C., has chartered a bus to make the 200-mile trip to the game.

There are 55 seats, at a cost of $45 per ticket, on the bus.

“One of the best parts about being from Montana is that the support community follows you wherever you go,” said Jed Link, the society’s president.

The trip is partially sponsored by a Washington bar and restaurant, My Brother’s Place.

For more information, contact link at


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