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Montana schools host 'Wear a Cap Day' to benefit Havre referee's - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Montana schools hosting 'Wear a Cap Day' to benefit Havre referee's daughter

Montana schools hosting 'Wear a Cap Day' to benefit Havre referee's daughter Montana schools hosting 'Wear a Cap Day' to benefit Havre referee's daughter

Ken Larson couldn't get Finnley Grace Foster off his mind. The 13-month-old from Havre began to show symptoms of an illness when she was only four months old. In June of 2015, doctors found an abnormal white blood cell count in her body.

After numerous trips to local doctors, Finnley Grace visited an immunologist specialist at Seattle Children's Hospital where she was tested for Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID). The condition was so rare, doctors recommended keeping the baby out of day-care, away from sick individuals and as clean as possible. Months later, doctors are still searching for the exact form of SCID Finnley has.

Finnley has already had a long medical history and Larson wanted to help. Finnley's father, Pat Foster, is a Havre-area referee and well known in the Montana high school sports world. As medical bills continued to mount for Pat and Finnley's mother, Katie, a simple fund-raising effort arose in Larson's office. The Conrad principal created 'Wear a Hat Day' where students and teachers in the school would be allowed to pay $1 to wear their hat throughout the school day.

"This isn't about me or Conrad," Larson said. "I'm just the guy with the idea. I don't know what drove me to pursue this other than I couldn't get it out of my head following the divisional tournament in Malta."

Eager to share the idea, Larson began emailing other principals across Montana and schools were more than willing to participate. More than 60 schools have designated their own 'Wear a Hat Day' on any Friday during the month of March. Each school will collect the profits from students and teachers and send them to Larson, who will give the proceeds to Pat and Katie in April.

Schools like Broadwater County in Townsend were quick to answer the bell after watching Montana come to their aid in recent years.

"We've been through some tough times in recent years," said Broadwater County principal Sheri Heavrin. "I know how overwhelmed we were with the compassion of our Montana school families and the outpouring of support. It's a magical place to be. You never have to tackle something on your own or be alone."

Larson and Heavrin's hope is that the idea will spread beyond the Montana school systems. Businesses and individuals are encouraged to participate and donate money for Finnley Grace.

"I had an idea that maybe we could get the broad community involved," said Heavrin. "We want to see if any local businesses want to participate and we'll funnel the funds through here and get it to Ken Larson."

For more information on how to donate, businesses and individuals are encouraged to contact Larson by phone at (406) 278-3285 or by email (ken.larson.conradschools.org).

A simple idea, with an easy price-tag of a dollar, the fundraiser could raise hundreds, maybe thousands for the Foster family.

"I have a feeling that will definitely be the case," Heavrin said. "I'm sure other fundraisers will spring from this. ... Kids are great and come up with great ideas, so who knows what they could add to it."

"I think part of it isn't just the financial part but in the tragedies we've been through it's not just the money and things sent, it's the knowledge that, 'Wow. This many people are behind us,'" said Broadwater County K-8 principal Brad Racht. "(Pat) being someone who has done a lot for youth sports over the years, what a great place to start this in the schools. For them to know this many people are behind them, we hope that helps."

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