Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Bombers football, leading by example


October 19, 2017

Lois E. Johnson

Michael Lilya presents a football signed by the members of the Bombers football team to Caidan Anderson, 9, on Wednesday, October 11.

Life hasn't been easy for Caidan Anderson, 9, a student at Barnum Elementary School.

Caidan was born with a cleft palate and has undergone mouth surgeries and orthodontic work for the last two years.

He also loves football and wants to play the game. He brought his football to the Barnum Bombers Homecoming game.

"We attended the Barnum Homecoming game last Friday (October 6) and senior Mike Lilya signed his football and took him on the field for the first huddle and game call," explained Caidan's mother, Colleen Anderson. "He was invited back to practice today (Wednesday, October 11) to receive an autographed game ball. He has finally been able to join the flag football league this year, and next year he will be on the Bombers fifth-grade football team."

"I could tell it meant the world to him to be at that game," said Lilya, as he was interviewed by Barrett Anderson of Channel 3's "For the Love of the Game" that Wednesday. "He had brought his football. I saw him out there and I went up to him and asked if he wanted it signed."

Lilya signed it for Caidan, but the football was wet from the rain that evening and the signature smudged. Lilya said he would get a game ball for him and get the signatures of everyone on the team.

Lilya presented that ball to Caidan when the team was practicing.

"He loved it," said Lilya. "He is really excited. At the game, I asked him if we should run or pass for the first play of the game. He said pass. It was cute."

Caidan has made a new friend.

"He asked Mike to come to his birthday party to play football," said Colleen. "His birthday is February 19. They will have to play in the gym."

Lilya knows the value of stepping up when he sees a need. His brother, Danny, is a parplegic and a member of the Rebels football team as a place holder. He holds the ball for kickoffs.

Danny spends his life in a wheelchair, but he is an athlete. In addition to football, he plays sled hockey, is on the Rebels track team and conquers many other challenges that come his way.

Michael added, "We have to lead by example. If others see you doing the right thing, they will do the right thing."


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