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From assemblies at schools to the Rip City Rally, the Blazer ambassadors brought something for everyone.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BRUCE ELY/PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS - An estimated 500 people attended the two-hour Portland Trail Blazers Rip City Rally on Thursday, Sept. 13, between 4 and 6 p.m., in the plaza in front of the Madras City Hall. The Blazer ambassadors arrived early and spent school hours visiting with fifth-grade students at Buff Elementary and participating in assemblies with students at Madras Elementary and Jefferson County Middle School.
After a full day of visiting local schools, where they played games and engaged with kids, the Portland Trail Blazer ambassadors pieced together mats and set up booths in the plaza in front of the Madras City Hall for a rally last Thursday.

HOLLY M. GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - Madras Mayor Royce Embanks holds a Blazer jersey, surrounded by, left to right, Blazers television analyst Lamar Hurd, former player Bob Gross, sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam, play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro, and Scott Loftin, a senior vice president at Moda.
"We were very pleased with the turnout and estimate approximately 500 people came through the two-hour event," said Lysa Vattimo, communications specialist for the city. "The Trail Blazers were a great organization to work with."

The Blazers, in partnership with Moda, selected five cities for this year's Rip City Rally, which began in Klamath Falls on Sept. 10, and traveled to Bend and Prineville Sept. 11 and 12, before hitting Madras on Sept. 13, and Hood River on Sept. 14.

HOLLY M. GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - Former Blazer Bob Gross, a member of the 1977 championship team, poses with the team trophy and Sharon and Tom Miller, of Madras, longtime fans, who brought the poster in the foreground with them.
Madras officials chose the location for the rally. "We needed a place that had level concrete, some open area, enough electricity to accommodate vendors, and drive-by exposure," said Vattimo. "This was the first community event we've held in the civic plaza, which was built for community events. It was just the right size; I think everything went perfectly."

In each location, the Blazers and Moda focused on healthy and active living and provided fun activities for families.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BRUCE ELY/PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS - First-grader Anna Laiya Williams Orozco, and other Madras Elementary School students, get excited during an assembly with Blazer activities in the gym prior to the Blazers' Rip City Rally, from 4-6 p.m.
At Madras Elementary, Todd Bosma, director of game operations for Portland Trail Blazers, shared his message with approximately 430 students at a 45-minute assembly.

According to Principal Chris Wyland, Bosma stressed the importance of paying attention to teachers, being physically fit, and eating healthfully.

After listening to the message, Wyland said, "We had some different, goofy races. Even if somebody lost, we clapped for them. Todd said we're all on the same team."

Each of the students was given either a Hydro Flask or a Blazers yearbook.

HOLLY M. GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - Karen Reinholt, of Portland, airbrushes a Blazer logo on to 6-year-old Koda Boise's arm, while his sister, Angel Boise, 10, watches.
"I think our students were really enthusiastic and enjoyed themselves," said, Wyland, who was proud to hear that "Our kids were more engaged than other schools. Any time you can bring Blazers in, it resonates with students. I think the Blazers did an awesome job of reinforcing the message of listening to teachers and working hard."

Throughtout the two-hour rally period, people continued to pour in to the plaza, where the Blazers gave away at least 250 T-shirts, along with other prizes.

"They told us Madras had the highest attendance of any of the cities and the schools were very welcoming," said Vattimo. "Once again, I'm so proud of Madras and our surrounding communities!"

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