LEWISTON — The Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl returned Saturday afternoon. It had a new venue, Don Roux Field at Lewiston High School, but the game was the same. East vs West. Cheerleaders represented the two regions but performed together. It was as if nothing had changed.

As usual, the game was not played for the players or cheerleaders participating, or for their friends and family in the stands. When David York of Kennebunk booted the opening kickoff for the West to Skowhegan’s Marcus Hampton, it was for kids like 6-year-old Carter Clark of Clinton.

Carter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 18 months old. Since 2018, Carter has received treatment at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, Massachusetts. Thanks to that treatment, Carter is able to run around like a typical 6-year-old kid. He swims, snowmobiles, plays basketball and T-ball.

Saturday afternoon, wearing a blue West jersey, No. 24, Carter Clark tossed the coin to start the game. Then he played in the shade of the inflatable helmet the West squad ran through to take the field, roughhousing with a friend.

Because of the Shriners Hospital, he could.

“The Shriners had such a great impact on the quality of my son’s life,” said Bo Clark, Carter’s father. “He’s able to do everything he wants.”


That’s what was missing these last two summers when the Lobster Bowl was on hold, stories from families like the Clarks, who don’t see the Lobster Bowl as just a football game, but a lifeline.

The last time the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl had been played in his normal format was 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 game. Last summer, after the 2020 high school football season was scrapped and a flag football season was inserted in its place, the Lobster Bowl was a 7-on-7 tournament.

Last year’s event was better than nothing. It gave seniors who had lost so much a chance to compete at some level. It even raised $16,000 for Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston and Springfield, the beneficiaries of these games since the first Lobster Bowl in 1990.

This year, though, the fundraising went into overdrive, bringing in $150,000 – a record for the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl.

Before the two-year pandemic pause, the Lobster Bowl typically raised between $90,000 and $110,000 for the Shriners hospitals. According to Joe Hersom of the Kora Shrine Temple in Lewiston and the president of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, the money raised by the game is the biggest fundraiser the Kora Shriners undertake each year.

“We have a bunch of different fundraisers over the year, as far as the temple is concerned, but this is the No. 1 fundraiser for the hospital. The money goes directly to the hospitals, to the families, for new equipment, for transportation, for lodging. They need these events,” Hersom said.


Danny White of Foxcroft Academy was the East head coach this year, while Chris Kates of Lisbon was head coach of the West. Both played in the game after graduating from high school, White in 2003 and Cates in 2005. Both knew to stress to their players the game’s greater importance, and to have fun.

“Slow down, that’s probably the biggest thing. Slow down and enjoy the moment,” White said. “It’s humbling. I feel like I have a greater appreciation for it now. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That’s a remarkable effort statewide.”

Participants will remember the big plays, clutch tackles and long touchdown catches, of course, but those things will be overshadowed by the memories of the friendships made and the patients at the hospitals the players helped.

Players like Liam Clayton, a linebacker from York. As Carter and his dad left the field after the coin toss, Clayton ran to greet them.

“Carter, buddy!” Clayton said, extending his arm to give Carter a high five.

That’s the memory Clayton will take from his Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl experience.

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